Just a quick note to say that Judith Kerr died. She is the woman I talked about in my New Year’s Day post. She was interviewed about her creative work at the Savoy at the age of 95, by the Guardian.
I thought about looking to find out more about her life, but in the end I decided against that. I know enough. I know all I need to know to set my own goals and design my own path.
She said she worked every morning, so she didn’t feel the day was wasted. I respect that. Especially for an accomplished woman at her age. I want to be such a person. And I want to be interviewed at the Savoy at 95.
So all I have to do now is fill that space between now and then with something worthy of an interview. And I have to keep myself fit and strong to reach that age and be able to work and go to the Savoy.
This is a brief post dedicated to the most impressive news I have read in a while. As you know I’m interested in new technologies like the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence etc. Boundless connectivity amazes me. It enables us to communicate seamlessly regardless of geographical positions. It makes existing technology far more efficient and cost effective.
But there is one risk: failing to protect all that data that new technologies collect. This is the main concern of all sceptics. Rightfully so. However, as an enthusiast and an optimist, I always felt that issues of security and privacy will eventually be adequately addressed. And they are. Even more so than I thought.
Today I read that researchers at Cambridge University are successfully using quantum mechanics to protect sensitive information. Apparently they use particles of light, photons, to protect encryption keys from hackers. In case of an attack, their quantum state changes thus eliminating valuable information.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, I also found out in the same article about quantum computers. They are like the computers we know but their function utilises quantum mechanical phenomena like superposition and entanglement. Quantum properties are used for the representation and structure of the data, and quantum mechanics for performing operations with that data. Google, IBM and others are already working on that.
Clearly the future holds many more impressive developments. Thankfully, for any risks posed on one end there is counteraction on the other to prevent fallout. I’m actually looking forward to seeing all this happening.
What do you think about it? Are you concerned about newfound threats or are you thrilled about human ingenuity?
In this post I want to share the most efficient writing advice I got so far. I started this journey in writing some time ago with the goal to write professionally. I want to write staff that people want to read. Don’t we all?
The more I write, the more I realize that professional
writing isn’t about the writer. It is about the reader. It isn’t about
self-expression, it’s about getting the message across. And getting the message
across isn’t always easy. Often it means that what you wrote is unreadable, or
useless. Writing for others needs to have a purpose, to serve their needs in
As my tutor says, what we write needs to either inform or entertain or educate or even provoke. In any case it needs to have something to offer. But even if there is something useful to say, how do we go about saying it? Fragmented writing is my main pitfall. It’s so easy to make too big a leap in your paragraph. To imply things the reader doesn’t know – because I didn’t write them. To skip some parts of the event and throw the reader right to the end without taking it one step at a time. And those are just some of my shortcomings.
So, what do I do to improve? The one piece of advice I was given by all tutors is to read it out loud. That is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I still haven’t been able to do it. Breaking the silence in the room scares me. Although as time goes by, I realize this is going to be a necessary tool. But not my favorite.
You know what my favorite tool is? Copying! Yes, copying as an exercise. Copying great writers using pen and paper. I find this to be such a powerful mental exercise. It is based on the rule of input – output. As a writer you can create great output only if great input goes into your head. And great input can have many forms. One of which is reading great books. And copying parts of those books the old-fashioned hand-written way. The way that allows the brain to process that input.
I know I have a long way to go, and this exercise really helps. It functions both as a technical guide – on sentence and paragraph structure – and as inspiration. The book I’m using right now for this is Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. Such a skilled writer. I am amazed every day by the way she writes long sentences. Her sentences can be five lines long and flow beautifully. I have to say, as I read them, I keep thinking: She must have read them out loud! Maybe even more than once.
That is the best writing advice I got so far. If you
are interested in any type of writing, go ahead and try this. Let me know what
Is there some valuable writing advice you would like
to share? Send me a reply and let me know.
What does AI mean in
real life, not in the movies? Science fiction loves to portray human-like super
smart machines that take over the world. Reality is not quite so impressive, or
Artificial Intelligence enables machines to process large amounts of data, to recognise patterns in that data and learn from them. Well known examples include the self-driving car and chess-playing computers. However, the way AI can contribute in health care and manufacturing is far more impressive.
As I was going through
articles and videos on the subject, I watched a video from Microsoft depicting
AI in practice. What struck me the most was the scene at the hospital with the
patient recovering from heart surgery. AI technology can track the movements of
the patient and notify the nurse in case he exceeds doctor recommendations. AI embedded
in the security cameras can also locate the nearest wheelchair and notify the
nurse so that she can get the patient seated as soon as possible.
In a chemical plant, AI cameras can learn to recognise a dangerous incident, like the spillage of a chemical and alert the staff. A computer can notify the right person to clean it up and all others to avoid the danger. Impressive!
Would you like to know more about how this technology works? Are you willing to accept that technology works in mysterious ways or would you like to explore the realities behind it?
I would love to know your thoughts on this. Please put them in a reply below.
Do you feel like a stranger in your own world sometimes? Does all this new technology make you feel like an immigrant in a new country? You are not alone. Technology is moving so fast these days, even professionals try to catch up. After discussing the Internet of Things in my previous post, I feel its time to get acquainted with BIG DATA.
What is Big Data?
Lets just start with
what data signifies today. Just data, not the Big Data variety. Data refers to information
we put in our computer every time we write something or make entries in a spreadsheet.
Pretty straight forward so far.
Today though, data is
generated in many more ways. Every time we use our tablet or smartphone to
connect with others, we create data. Every time we send an email, play a game
or purchase something online we generate data. Same goes with liking a
photograph, buying movie tickets, or using a smart watch. Tons of data is generated
and stored about our health and life choices when exercising with our smart
So Big Data, as you
might have guessed already, is massive amounts of data. Today’s technology
enables the collection, storage and analysis of mind-blowing amounts of
information. According to Oracle, the volume of available data doubles every
Three key concepts
define the term Big Data today:
as in high volumes of structured, unstructured or semi structured data.
as in the fast rate of collection and analysis. Today there is even products
that operate on real-time information.
as in the many different types of data. Today they can even derive from audio
and video files.
So we have Big Data.
What about it? Why is it important?
According to the World
Economic Forum, Big Data analysis will reveal patterns and connections that
will vastly improve most human activities.
Big Data means more
information, more information leads to better and more comprehensive answers.
Better answers provide better solutions.
Often, better solutions
lead to even better quality of data, so the circle closes and opens again
leading to accelerated progress.
The significant question is what organizations are doing with Big Data. Analysis provides information that enables organizations to implement:
cost and time reductions
maintenance based on accurate predictions
augmented customer experience
smart decision making and innovation
new product development
more comprehensive business strategies
What is really interesting is all the effort, imagination and creativity that is required in order make sense of all this and come up with something useful. I was surprised to read about the importance of asking the right questions. Behind all this technology there is highly skilled people involved in a process of discovery and innovation. All this doesn’t just happen automatically, which often comes as a surprise to non-tech people.
I am looking forward to
finding out what you think about BIG DATA. Send me a reply below with your
thoughts and questions.
What else would you
like to know about Big Data?
What new development would
you like me to write about next?
Simply put, it is things connected on the Internet.
What a surprise!
And by things, I mean devices. Already more devices than people are connected to the Internet. According to research by Cisco 50 billion things will be connected to the web by 2020. When world population is around 7.5 billion.
Just to impress you even further, it is estimated that IoT will add 1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years (Cisco). Interesting, huh?
IoT is here and it is
already affecting the way we live our lives and the way businesses function. It
is about time we all understand the term, grasp the challenges it poses and appreciate
what the future brings.
I believe it is important that all citizens of our world know about the recent technological developments, understand their basic functionality and make the most of them.
It is through this technology that our world is going to become even more efficient and even more rewarding.
How does it work?
Internet of Things is
not about devices and data. The main aim of this technology is the
collaboration of elements with a purpose: to find a solution to a problem. An
IoT strategy offers a holistic approach to problem solving.
This web of things involves three main elements:
devices for collecting data
clouds that store data
software that analyses data and turns it to meaningful information
What is Internet of Things used for?
As depicted in the graph below, the top three markets are smart city, industry and buildings. Not far behind we see cars, smart energy, agriculture and health services.
At home IoT applications include:
In buildings there is applications in:
In transport there is applications in:
shipping and supply chain
In health IoT offers applications for:
monitoring the elderly
caring for patients more efficiently
Not to forget the smart cities and the general industry where applications include:
utilities smart grid
augmented emergency services
What are the benefits?
IoT is expected to add
1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years. How is that
going to happen?
The potential of this
growth is driven by four parameters:
Improved performance of existing processes
Reduced costs for energy and maintenance
New revenue streams
To be more precise and
give you a better idea of the IoT potential here are some examples:
• In smart buildings it is expected that huge
savings will be generated simply by lowering operating costs and reducing
• In smart cities, savings are generated
through efficient waste management as well as innovative management of parking
spaces. Citizens will be able to find and reserve the closest available space
and local authorities can implement demand-based pricing.
• In the health sector there are devices
for monitoring patients, people with disabilities and special needs. There are
motion detectors and sensors that can immediately notify for help if someone
has had an accident.
Challenges posed by
Internet of Things
As with every significant
development, this technology poses challenges both to organizations and governments.
Technological standardisation which is still fragmented
Rapid innovation which poses significant challenges to governments
Appropriate governance of holistic approaches
Security, privacy and compliance
According to Samsung’s
Open Economy document, more than 7.3 billion devices need to be made secure by
their manufacturers by 2020.
Organisations have valid concerns about security, privacy, transparency and compliance. This is a challenge for businesses that function within IoT but one that is addressed by technology giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon Web Services and others.
Hopefully I was able to convey the meaning of the term Internet of Things without the use of overpowering terminology. I really do admire the fact that IoT is created with intention and that each application serves a specific purpose. Each time it is tailor-made to provide a solution.
The scale of the
benefits is mind-blowing, and I am most impressed by the potential for change
in our world. Positive change.
I feel it is our duty
to learn as much as possible about those developments, to be prepared and make
the most of them at home, at work, in our community.
It is for our
collective benefit that we have to make the most of all those technological
Human creativity has been moving us forward for centuries. This is yet another step!
I would love to know your
thoughts on this. Are you also excited about IoT? Send me a reply and let me know.
Have you ever tried this? Expressing the same idea in many different ways.
Writing down the same idea in many different ways is a first for me. Each time with a different aim in mind. This was part of a learning exercise for an online writing course, and I found it very interesting and very revealing. I never thought I could say the same thing in so many ways. Let’s begin.
The original viewpoint
Self-discipline: the ability to make yourself do things you know you should even when you do not want to. However difficult to achieve, it is an important attribute of successful people.
Moving towards the reader
yourself do what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it, is commendable.
Self-discipline is definitely aiding you in your road to success.
Moving away from the reader
is a commendable ability. Doing whatever necessary despite not feeling like it
is difficult, yet necessary to succeed in any field.
Moving against the reader
is not exactly your strong-suit, is it? Well, no surprise there! It isn’t
easy to do something when you don’t really feel like it. Success in life can
come without this self inflicting discipline. I get it.
Push: suggest, advise, reason
is the ability to make yourself do the things you should, even when you don’t
want to. It is often difficult but it is widely recognised as one of the main
attributes of successful people.
Push: state expectations, evaluate, reward and
is clearly expected of you at this stage. Your performance is clearly depending
upon that and high marks will only derive from such an approach. Failure is
imminent without this type of commitment.
Pull: listen, disclose, empathise
it is difficult. Self-discipline can be such a challenge, I know. I’ve
been there. But I also know that it is necessary. It really makes a
difference at the end if the day. It’s the only way to become the best and
Pull: identify common ground and create a
Self-discipline is the way. I know, I’ve been there. Within this predicament it is absolutely necessary I’m afraid. Only by doing what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it at all, you are going to excel and succeed. But it’s worth it. Joining this team is going to be an amazing experience.
What did you think of this exercise? I’d love to read your thoughts on the different types of expression. Do send me a reply below.
I would like to thank my tutor Philippa Davies for this course and for all the feedback she sends me.
Organising your tasks, whether at home or at the office, is so much easier these days. Paperless is the word! It is about time all those task management applications enter your life and remove clutter.
Desperately looking for your notes a few minutes before an important presentation can be disastrous. So is looking for a file while your boss is on the line. Today there are so many meetings, phone-calls and distractions during the day. Every day. It is imperative we take charge of all tasks, plan and organise them and keep them on track.
Organising makes you more efficient. It improves time management and enables you to free some time and concentrate on what really matters. So, here are some useful applications for you to consider:
There is lots to choose from according to your
individual needs and lifestyle. And they are mostly free. Usually they offer a
basic version for free and charge a monthly fee for some more specialized
upgrades. You can seriously take charge of your life and control all the
information at work and at home.
online learning courses worth the effort? Yes!
have enrolled in quite a few during the past couple of years; some free, some
quite expensive. Here are the main elements to consider irrespective of the
Video. Courses without video are boring. No matter how dedicated you might be, they are really difficult to follow. Completing them was a struggle each time. Video is helpful even if the tutor isn’t charismatic on camera. The experience is particularly enjoyable when the tutor has an interesting presence. This was the case once and I would repeat sections just to hear them explain it again!
Tests. Yes tests, even automated ones, help a lot. At first, I thought they were pretty basic and boring, but actually they make you re-think the content, process the information in your mind and thus learn it better.
Personalised feedback from a tutor. When an online course offers that option, it’s the best! Ever since a joined such a course for the first time, I decided to never pay for another one again that doesn’t provide this service. Personalised feedback from your tutor is really helpful and their comments can be really inspiring.
Peer feedback. That is the next best option. Peer feedback is useful and interesting, especially if a lot of participants are involved. It is nice to find out what others think of your work, but clearly not as useful as the opinion of an expert.
have to admit I am addicted to online courses! It is so easy to learn new
things from the comfort of your own home. The cost is minimal, and you can
usually make whatever time allowances fit your schedule. Learning new skills is
exciting and refreshing and I sincerely recommend it. Most of the courses are
self-paced and can be adjusted to the busiest lifestyles. Even 10 minutes a day
or an hour per week can make a huge difference.
My favourite courses in terms of presentation and interactivity were with Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and Udemy. Courses offered by edX are very varied and always useful.
The topics I study about are creative writing and grammar and style. I have also attended courses on blogging and online writing as well as digital marketing.
Browsing through the options I am amazed by the abundance of options that are available today. So many areas of knowledge, such horizons in our fingertips. I am grateful for this wonderful technology that brings learning in my house. Thank you!
I’d love to know about
your experience with online learning. Have you started or still thinking about
it? Send me a reply and let me know.
Yes, Internet is a tool. It can help us connect and
learn and communicate. We use it to find information, to amuse ourselves, to do
our job. And we use it because we want to learn more things, new things, better
I want to learn how to improve my writing. How to better communicate with my tribe and share my thoughts. I am trying to find out the right tone of voice, the right topic, the best way to put my words in a line so people can understand me. And help me.
In my effort to achieve this I have been bombarded by “how to …” posts. There are hundreds of them on any topic, often entailing conflicting guidelines.
Do write often –
Do not write often
Do write for
content mills – Do not write for content mills
personal staff – Do not share personal staff
There is lists and lists of “how to …” and “what to do
…” everywhere online. And once they find out you are interested, they overwhelm
you with e-mails and webinars and magical documents that solve everything.
My problem is, I am starting to feel they are lacking in honesty. Somebody somewhere decided that this type of posts and articles interest people. That they draw traffic and establish platforms. And maybe they do. I don’t know. So many websites are doing this, I guess it must be working!
But those writers, do they really think about me when
they write? Do they think of a person, any person, as they write? Or do they
follow the rules of success? Make up a list of instructions, make them easy to
read and simple and approachable and off it goes. I am starting to feel
How about we share more truth and less guidelines? The most useful and inspirational piece of content I read online recently was the interview of Judith Kerr in the Guardian. She is a 95 years old woman and every day she writes her books, she draws, she walks to the river. In her interview she simply talks about her life, her choices, her way of doing things. And that is great. She shares her experience with no intention to teach the reader or offer instructions. She just lives the way that is fulfilling for her. I wish to become like that one day. And she simply talks about her life. That is truly inspirational!
Back to the “how to …” content. I think I’ve already
had enough. I long to read more true stories, honest stories, human stories
about writing, living, learning. And maybe that is the path I am to follow.
What do you think about all those articles offering guidelines? Do you enjoy them or have you also had enough?