She means business

While doing some research around Living a conscious life. I was pleasantly surprised to find Carrie Green had included part of a conversation following the Tedx talk above, with her in North Tea Power in her book.

When I discovered this, I decided well I might as well get a copy for my ever growing library. Today I got my copy…

From the chapter – The little voice in your head

A guy called Ian Forrester climbed up to the stage, I handed him £20, the audience applauded and he went and sat down. A few weeks later we met up over a cup of tea and he told me how a brush with death a few years earlier made him make the decision that he was never going to let anything stand in his way. He said, “People are paralyzed by their fear of what might happen, and so they won’t reach out and grab what’s in front them. And that’s pretty much what I did.”

Thank you again Carrie for the quote and everything, I will never forget the moment.

Could the Mycroft 2, be the perfect replacement for a Google home

I saw the Mycroft v2 recently and had a look through the kickstarter page to learn a little more.

MyCroft v1

It looks promising but after some research and some tweets, I remembered the is something I looked at previously and was interested in installing on a RaspberryPi to see if I could create what I really need. Its one of my many projects I wanted to do with my holidays sometime. Its clear voice and hue lights could be very good, especially for guests but I don’t want google and philips to be involved in that process.

I also suggested mycroft and betty to Databox team, when we talked about voice in the living room of the future. It seems like a perfect match right?

Anyway, I think I might back the second one only because I don’t really want to do the hard work making it work on a Raspberry Pi.

Barbie will be the hacker’s number one stocking filler this year

I guarantee you… Forget the wifi pineapple, its all about barbie.

Why? Well anybody who understands technology knows why… But everybody else has just caught up.

But I absolutely love this picture of Barbie in the corner thinking about what she did. Like she has been a little naughty and taking some time to think about things.


Best bits of Google now

Nearby Tasks - UI Mockup for a Google Now To-Do

I won’t lie. I do love google now and he’s my favourite google now commands…

“Ok Google, What’s this song?” – Goodbye Shazam and Soundhound

“Ok Google, Remember to call Jane when I get home” – The reminder system is good but not bulletproof as it doesn’t seem to go into my task list. However…

“Ok Google, note to self copy files to a USB drive for work” – Does go into my google tasks.

“Ok Google, how many hours difference is it between Boston and London ?” – Useful when planning virtual meetings and hangouts

“Ok Google, What am I doing tomorrow? – Useful but my calendar is clogged up with USA TV show schedules, so I usually get that first. But at least I can see the rest in one complete overview. Great for when taking the lift in the morning.

“Ok Google, do I need a umbrella today” – Very useful in Manchester!

“Ok Google, where is the nearest petrol station” – this was useful when driving through Wales a while ago.

Let Her… talk to you


A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

This is a really good film. Some parts are funny and some parts are tragic. But this isn’t a review of a really good film but rather a look at the technology in the film her. There might be some mild spoilers and I would recommend not reading till you’ve seen it in full.

When I first heard about Her, I thought oh no here comes another S1mOne. Don’t get me wrong S1mOne is ok but gets a little silly in parts. Her on the other hand is smart and although it does go towards the obvious, it pulls back and finds a new more interesting path.

Adrian sent me a link to wired’s piece about the UI design in her.

A few weeks into the making of Her, Spike Jonze’s new flick about romance in the age of artificial intelligence, the director had something of a breakthrough. After poring over the work of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists trying to figure out how, exactly, his artificially intelligent female lead should operate, Jonze arrived at a critical insight: Her, he realised, isn’t a movie about technology. It’s a movie about people. With that, the film took shape. Sure, it takes place in the future, but what it’s really concerned with are human relationships, as fragile and complicated as they’ve been from the start.

The film is certainly about people and our relationships in the age of artificial intelligence. Reminds me very much of the book which imran gifted me which I’ve still not read completely, love in the age of algorithms.

But whats really interesting is the simplicity of the technology. Pretty much every interaction is with voice. There’s little interaction with screens, although there are giant screens in some of the shots. Even the camera which the main character uses looks underwhelming simple. I can only suggest in the near future we started to solve the power/battery problems of today.

We decided that the movie wasn’t about technology, or if it was, that the technology should be invisible,” he says. “And not invisible like a piece of glass.” Technology hasn’t disappeared, in other words. It’s dissolved into everyday life.

Here’s another way of putting it. It’s not just that Her, the movie, is focused on people. It also shows us a future where technology is more people-centric. The world Her shows us is one where the technology has receded, or one where we’ve let it recede. It’s a world where the pendulum has swung back the other direction, where a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isn’t an end in itself-that it’s the real world we’re supposed to be connecting to.

I think Wired is right, the movie is a total U turn on the likes of Minority Report and Blade Runner. There is a great scene where our main character is lying on the grass in a field. He’s talking to the AI like she is lying right next to him. The cinematography actually applies it from the camera angle.

The technology is there but it feels like that Internet of things dream, the technology is embedded everywhere. Not the Google Glass style future. something much closer to ubiquitous…

All of these things contribute to a compelling, cohesive vision of the future — one that’s dramatically different from what we usually see in these types of movies. You could say that Her is, in fact, a counterpoint to that prevailing vision of the future — the anti-Minority Report. Imagining its world wasn’t about heaping new technology on society as we know it today. It was looking at those places where technology could fade into the background, integrate more seamlessly.

After that Wired goes into depth about the User Interface being vocal and how its a perfect fit for the cinema. I don’t disagree but its only one of many types of User Interfaces which can be available. I do agree its a nice depart from touch interfaces which is in most films.

But the AI isn’t simply voice alone (this has been done many times in cinema too), its context sensitive, its perceptive! This is what brings the sense of magic to the exchanges. The AI seems like she is there talking and taking it all in. All those subtle gestures, human expressions, etc. They are all taken into account, making the AI seem very human.

…we’re already making progress down this path. In something as simple as a responsive web layout or iOS 7′s “Do Not Disturb” feature, we’re starting to see designs that are more perceptive about the real world context surrounding them-where or how or when they’re being used. Google Now and other types of predictive software are ushering in a new era of more personalised, more intelligent apps.

Arthur C. Clarke said…

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Her is does have a magic quality, its not the best film I’ve seen this year but its one which I do think will cause a trend showcasing different user interfaces in movies, instead of defaulting to the usual push/pull/touch interfaces.

Its well worth watching and enjoying, just don’t think about S1m0ne beforehand.

Things which google have done which bug me in the last year

how google perpetuates itself

Most people would say I’m a fan of google services but I just find them the best of a bunch. Don’t necessary buy their old do no evil stance but they do a good job on most things. One of my favourates is of course Google Now. However there some thing which have bugged me over the last year, heres my list…

  • Offline maps
    I don’t quite understand why they got rid of offline maps but its frustrating, as it use to save me tons of money in roaming charges. If I go on holiday somewhere, I could make a offline version of that city and happily know I have most places to hand. The best thing is it still worked with GPS, so I could be in a taxi or on a bus and track where I was going to the exact moment. Now Google have removed the feature and I’m aware of the “OK Google” trick but its not the same.
  • Hangouts vs Gtalk vs Google Voice
    I know Google have changed Gtalk to fit into Hangouts. Great but whenever I say lets hangout, people assume you mean video and audio, which is a hangout on air? Where does Google Voice fit into this frame? I have no idea… Don’t get me wrong, I love hangouts but the application does kill batteries and I quite liked Gtalk, as I could use it with Pidgin.
  • Google Voice for the UK
    The one thing skype has over hangouts is the ability to call and text phones. Google Voice does this but its not come to the UK still, even after years. I also don’t understand why it works on my android tablet (I have £10 worth of credit) but it won’t work on my android phone?
  • The built in browser in Android
    On Android there is the built in browser but you can install multiple alternative browsers. So I have Browser, Chrome, Firefox and Opera on most of my android devices. You can make any of them the default but I don’t really understand why Chrome isn’t the default?
  • Circles vs Categories for contacts
    Google Plus has been on the market for some time now and I like the circles, but what I don’t get is the categories which run parallel to the circle methodology. Ideally would be able to convert your gmail contact categories into circles. But Google have done nothing. Worst still Circles acts like taxomomies rather then folksonomies meaning there a duplicate scheme to sort contacts. If one was tag/folksomy based then it would be understandable.
  • Google Task API
    I know there is a Task API but it seems so flaky or at least all the apps which connect to it like
  • Inconsistency of staring something in Drive vs making it offline
    In the past, anything you stared in Drive/Doc would automatically be downloaded on Android devices. Some time recently that stopped being the case and you now have to manually select download on every device you want it on. This also can not be done remotely (from what I’ve seen). So I might have made it offline on my phone but not my tablet. The star system was better
  • Offline access generally
    Offline access generally isn’t ideal, its almost like someone at google hasn’t really experienced offline for long. Take for example Google Calendar. Offline mode, generally works without internet access, so you can go forward and backwards over a few months. But if you want to add or edit a something, forget it.
  • Google reader
    Of course no list about issues with Google wouldn’t be complete without a dig about Google Reader!