Archive for the ‘Personal Posts’ Category

SXSW Breakfast, Anyone?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

I’ve been a regular at Austin’s SXSW for far longer than I care to remember. It’s a heady mix of music, film, and ‘interactive’ stuff and I’ve always met many old friends, made new ones, and had my creative batteries refilled from spending a week or two in Texas.

This year is no different, and I’m flying out today.

The other thing that happens every year at SXSW is Saturday morning breakfast at Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. As usual I’ll be there a little bit ahead of 8am to grab a table and see who else turns up. A few of you have already asked and got the date in your diary, for everyone else reading let me know if you plan on turning up.

And if you want to meet at SXSW for any reason, I’m there for the full duration through to Sunday 19th March.

Gene Cernan RIP: Speaking To The Last Man On The Moon

Monday, January 16th, 2017

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Gene Cernan died today.

He was the last man to walk on the moon, an astronaut from a time of heroes, a pilot from a time where best friends didn’t come home. He also drew his daughter’s initials in the moon dust. They’re still there…
 
I was very lucky to speak to him in 2014 as he promoted Mark Craig’s documentary/biography ‘Last Man On The Moon.’ 

I’ve posted it above, and I’m going to listen to it again.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

The modern day grind of a blog writer

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

TechCrunch’s John Biggs on what he has learned after writing 11,00 blog posts. There’s a lot here that I can relate to:

Nobody cares. Nobody will read you. The only way to make them care is to keep doing it, day after day. Write 1,000 words a day. Don’t stop. This holds true in everything. Can you write more words per day? You can, but start at 1,000. Once you do that, day after day, people will notice. Then people will read. Then people will come back. Then you’ll gain a following. You probably won’t make any money but you will have a marketable skill that you can sell.

If anyone wants an idea of what I do for my job, BIggs has pretty much summed up what I call ‘the grind’.

Nostalgia is typing everything exactly as you see it printed

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Usborne computing have released two new books for children to learn about computers and programming (they are Key Stage 1 level, if that means anything to you). ‘Lift The Flap Computers and Coding‘ and ‘Coding For Beginners Using Scratch‘ may be popular in school libraries in the next year or two, but it’s what Usborne released for free download next to these titles that excites me.

The full range of their early 1980s Computer Guides… some of the books that started me programming on the ZX Spectrum. Including the classic ‘Computer Spacegames‘, which was the first of the guidebooks I remember.

The full collection is here. A more civilised  time with better artwork and lots of ‘guess a number’ apps!

When I’m ready to buy a new Filofax…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

I’m leaving this link to Van der Spek more for my reference in the future, but if you’re looking for a customised Filofax/planner/diary (especially if you’re looking for the old one and a quarter inch rings) in a choice of colours, materials, and sizes, you might want to check them out as well.

When did Coldplay realise they were the ultimate support act?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

I wonder if Coldplay were… “in on it” and realised they were the cover story and opening act for the Beyonce Political Rally? There must have been a moment they went from ‘we’re doing the whole show’ to becoming the warm-up act that nobody ever mentions in the gig review.

That’s the story I’d love to hear about the half-time show at Superbowl 50.

Disney’s Cowboy Bebop

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

It’s taken me a while to get round to Disney XD’s Star Wars animation ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, partly because I’d ignored the Clone Wars series, but also because there was another Star Wars episode to see last year all the focus was on that.

So it was a delight to settle down with Rebels and discover a almost piratical crew led by rough-edged Jedi with amazing gun control and close-quarters fighting skill, a heavily muscular ‘Second Mate’, a feminine sharpshooter, a street-wise urchin, and a cute puppy-like droid that knows far more than it tells.

That crew sound awfully familiar to us Space Cowboys.

No empty bench in Soho Square

Friday, December 18th, 2015

I fell out of favour with Heaven somewhere. And I’m here for the hell of it now.

Boys and girls, can you see which way Twitter went?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Nothing says Christmas (in the UK at least) than a pantomime. And nothing says innovating online than successfully holding an online pantomime as a piece of performance art. How about a pantomime on Twitter I hear you say-

…traditional wait as you all shout ‘how about a pantomime on Twitter?’ at me…

Been there, done that, it was cutting edge in 2008. Jon Bounds recalls the bleeding edge of comedy 2.0:

 Looking back at the first Twitpanto, which was organised haphazardly and quickly. It stands out for me that it had no commercial or charitable goal. It was purely for the enjoyment and to see if it was possible, and more than that it was able to break across social groupings and filters. A nib in the Birmingham Post the following day reminds me of the cast: some people whom I was friends with mainly online and had never met; some people I had worked with; some journalists, and a cabinet minister. The cabinet minister was Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich near Birmingham, a ferocious advocate of digital technology’s place in the real centre of social discourse – but this was no demonstration piece, this was for laughs. This era, is sadly over. Could the now deputy leader of the Labour Party play Barron Tweetup today?

A Quick Trip To San Francisco… Who Has Interesting Things To Show Me?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

This weekend I’m nipping over to San Franciso and the Bay Area – as you do – with a view to meet as many people as possible for coffee, snacks, lunch, and dinner. If you’re reading this and around between Sunday 27th and Wednesday 30th, let’s meet up, you all know how to reach me.

And anyone who has something interesting to show me with my Forbes hat on that pushes new technology in mobile, and social media, reach out to me via email (ewanspence@gmail.com).

Living Like An Online Swan

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Paul Jarvis raises a point on Medium that is always worth repeating:

What I share online only represents a tiny portion of my life. Sure, I live a pretty decent life, and really don’t have anything tocomplain about, but still?—?it’s not nearly as interesting as a lot of folks assume. And conversely, I’m sure a lot of folks I assume have an amazingly awesome, super interesting life are exactly the same.

I always say that life, especially online life, is like a swan. Everyone looking at someone else sees the graceful moves, the supple neck, the effortless gliding from one shore to another. Underneath the waterline is another story… it’s ugly, it’s splashy, it’s frantic, and it’s a heck of a lot of effort (much of it wasted) to get any sort of traction.

Never forget that I’m a swan in every respect:

So when I think about what I’m doing, I have to remember I’m not comparing like with like. The failures and knock-backs that I receive, the moments where getting the words out of my head and onto the screen are like detention with Umbridge, the struggle to get a work-life balance… everyone I am talking to have these moments as well.

I have to remember when I tell people some of the things I have been up to in the last year, they only see the top of my iceberg, so they are comparing my success with their struggles. We’re all human, we’re all putting on the best show for everyone else, and we’re all paddling furiously under the water thinking we are going nowhere fast.

I appreciate every day just how hard everyone is paddling.

That’s my Christmas sorted

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

How can you lose a referendum and then win the election?

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Professor John Curtice writes at FiveThirtyEight on the SNP and the upcoming General Election vote in Scotland:

There are three main parts to the answer. The first is that May’s election is being held under very different rules from the referendum. Second, the question of what Scotland’s constitutional status should be now matters more to voters than it did in the past. And third, the SNP has come to be regarded by many voters as the party keenest on creating a more equal society.

At 45 percent, the average level of support for the SNP in current Scotland-wide polls matches the percentage that the “yes” side won in the referendum. Indeed, it also equals the 45 percent that the SNP won in the election to the devolved Scottish Parliament held in May 2011. The crucial difference is that whereas 45 percent is always insufficient to win a referendum, it can be enough to win a landslide in an election that is held under the first-past-the-post electoral system and in which a multitude of parties are in contention.

This is a good primer for anyone wondering how you can go from losing the referendum on Independence in September 2014, and then potentially hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015.

Get the most from SXSW with my introductory podcasts

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

SXSW is here, and that means I’m in Austin, Texas for the usual jamboree of music, film, and interactive bits and pieces. As always I’ll be blogging, interviewing, and podcasting, over at sxswbaby.com. As part of that, there’s a series of podcasts on how to get the most out of SXSW. You could subscribe to the podcast (here’s the RSS feed), but to get you started, here’s the three ‘primers’ for the two weeks in sunny Austin.

The Beginner’s Podcast

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The Intermediate Podcast

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The Ninja Podcast

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And I’ll have more from Austin and SXSW every day at SXSW Baby!

Support for this year’s podcasts comes from HipChat. Bring your team to life, with group and private chat, file sharing, and integrations, all at hipchat.com.

That’s what being alive is all about

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

From @TerryAndRob

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

Probably one of the most gut-punch tweets you’ll read in a long time, even if we knew it was coming. Rest well…