Posts Tagged ‘sxsw’

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.

Trivial Posts #26: Fast Scripts, Slow Games, And A Martian Graveyard

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Another week, and another collection of internet links that have made me stop and think during the last week. Hopefully they’ll make you do the same. Never forget you can sign up to have this posted out to you every week, subscribe to the newsletter version here.

When Reality Shows Meet Reality

As the reality TV season kicks in on prime-time Saturday night television in the United Kingdom, ‘Strictly Come Dancing‘ and ‘The X-Factor‘ are set to dominate the schedules and the social media chat. It’s also a time where the power of the producers and scriptwriters of the shows can be seen impacting the fortunes of the contestants. Alongside a primer on how these shows work in practice, Sofabet’s Daniel Gould’s retrospective of the scriptwriting behind a previous contestant on ‘The X-Factor‘ illustrates just little power the contestants have:

Today’s article is an in-depth case study on the treatment of recent eliminee Abi Alton. We hope it will be an accessible introduction for newbies to the kind of tactics used to manipulate viewers’ perceptions of acts. For more seasoned observers, too, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I believe that rewatching an act’s entire journey with the benefit of hindsight, as I did to write this piece, is always a worthwhile learning exercise. It sharpens our ability to read future clues.

Abi’s Journey: A Case Study in X Factor Manipulation

Were You ‘Deadly’?

No Man’s Sky‘ is the reason I asked for a PlayStation 4 for Christmas…. last year. Now it has arrived I’ve been entranced with its eighties throwback nature, lack of competitive online combat, leisurely pace, and a meta of finding your own reason to live in this world. You know, how gaming used to be when I were a lad.

Turns out Martin Belam agrees, and agrees in a far more coherent form than me!

So it doesn’t strike me as odd that the four or five people I know who have really got into No Man’s Sky are all of a similar-ish age and generation to me. I feel like the game fulfils an 80’s vision of games, the kind of thing I could have played years ago. Except infinitely bigger and brighter than anything we had back then. The features that it “lacks”, that have made people angry, are almost exactly the same features that make it appeal to me and some of my peers.

How No Man’s Sky Exposes The Gaming Generation Gap For 80’s Kids

Facebook Instant Articles… Worth The Hassle?

The little lightning symbol on articles linked on Facebook means you can read them in a Facebook formatted post, with pre-fetched data, and generally it feels like reading in the Facebook app. Many major publishers are using the ‘Instant Article’ system, but is it worth it in terms of revenue and handing over user ownership to Mark Zuckerberg?

The revenue is improving too. In February, the CPM was $1.30. In the summer, it rose to $3.40; now, it’s back down to $2.10 — double the Instant Articles ad revenue it made last year, when it pulled in around €10,000 ($11,200). On its own mobile sites, CPM is less than $1.

Not everyone, however, is seeing the same success with yields. The commercial chief of a major digital media publisher, who wished to stay anonymous, likened the yields on Instant Articles to the equivalent of remnant inventory traded programmatically.

UK Publishers Are Mixed On Performance Of Facebook Instant Articles

Get Your Musk To Mars!

Bond villain in training Elon Musk wants to die on Mars and be buried there. This week he’ll make a big speech about how everyone should be funding his program to get to the red planet (presumably while stroking a white cat on his lap):

Meanwhile, during the next five years Musk might fly his Red Dragons to Mars. He might continue to develop and test the Raptor engines that would power his next-generation rocket. He could make reusable rocketry a reality. He could fly commercial crew missions safely and demonstrate his reliability with US astronauts. He could continue do all of this at a fraction of the cost of similar government programs. If he does this, a commercial pathway to Mars, offered by SpaceX at a cost of $50 billion to $100 billion might have some credibility with a future president and Congress. And if NASA doesn’t buy it, perhaps another foreign government might.

Between A Rocket And A Hard Place

I’m Sorry Dave, I Can’t Print That

Got an HP printer? A number of the devices stopped accepting third-party ink cartridges this month, following on from code that was part of March’s firmware update. If it’s not HP in HP, you won’t be able to print anything. That’s the long-game right there to make sure the code was in place before it was triggered. More at Boingboing from Cory Doctorow:

On September 13, owners of HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X began contacting third-party ink vendors by the thousand, reporting that their HP printers no longer accepted third-party ink.

The last HP printer firmware update was pushed in March 2016, and it appears that with that update (or possibly an earlier one), HP had set a time-bomb ticking in its customers’ printers counting down to the date when they’d begin refusing to follow their owners’ orders.

HP says that the March update’s purpose was “to protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property.”

Of course. And it’s nothing to do with selling printer ink that costs in the region of $2,700 per gallon.

HP Detonates Its Printer Timebomb

Quick Hits

The once-dominant Symbian OS had a Twitter client called ‘Gravity’. The developer now has a version available on Android, called ‘Gravity Forever‘.

Tom Forth’s automatic Guardian comment generator.

American sportswriters love Marriott, which goes some way to explaining the power of points-driven loyalty schemes in the travel industry.

What Have I Been Up To?

I’ve written up some of the strategy behind the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for Forbes where I ask ‘Is Apple Flying or Dying?‘ along with the weekly Apple and Android news columns.

Away from technology the weekly radio show that is ‘Europe’s Heartbeat’ continues to air weekly on various radio stations around the world. It debuts every Saturday morning on Radio Six, and you can listen to the previous week’s show on demand at

Before the end of the year I’ll be attending the Web Summit (Lisbon 7-10 November 2016), and I’m planning to be at Tech Crunch Disrupt in London (5-6 December 2016). Next year’s plans include attending SXSW (Austin, 10-20 March 2017). If you want to meet up at any of these events, let me know.

‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.

Shall we meet at SXSW?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Once more I’ll be jetting off to Austin in March for another week or so at South by Southwest and I’ll be attending the three main strands (Interactive, Film, and Web). As always I’m going out with a few aims.

The first is to meet old friends (and make new ones) so if you want to grab a coffee over some gingerbread pancakes, let me know. The second is to see what’s new in the tech, media, and music world. Be it start-ups, bands, films, ideas in the seminars, products on the show floor, SXSW is a guide to many new ideas.

Finally it’s about inspiration and getting ‘fired up’ over new ideas.

So, I’m going to SXSW. If you are as well, let me know and let’s ‘do coffee’.

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 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

Trivial Posts #7: Omnishambles, Mobile Search, And Freemium Snooze Buttons

Monday, January 19th, 2015

There are some weeks I find a lot during the week to put on the blog, others where it is either a bit quieter, or my attention is focused on deadlines or other projects. It was the latter this week, but I’ve still been squirreling away links and articles that have made me think. And as Monday kicks off, you can enjoy them as well in my  weekly collection of interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye online.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list so you always get your Trivial Posts every Monday.

Trust The Omnishambles Armistice

Armando Iannucci calls for Al Murray to debate Russell Brand ahead of the UK General Election in 2015. It says a lot for UK politics that this is probably the most sensible discussion around televised debates and engaging the public ahead of the vote in early May going on at the moment….

That said, I really want this to happen. And Iannucci to chair it.

It’s Time To Push For Change

This Is How Pop Will Eat Itself

The hollow husk of the 20th century music industry rolls on, but increasingly everyone who isn’t a middleman is finding ways to step out of the way and find their own path to a earning a living by being creative.  Thomas Honeyman lays out how the music industry as killed by a single generation and the power of the internet and the general purpose home computer took the power away from The Man.

How one generation was able to kill the music industry

Could You Extrapolate MySpace?

In 2004 the BBC Creative’s Research and Development team decided to think about how children would interact with the online world in ten years time. How did Matt Locke, Fiona Romeo, Alice Taylor, Hannah Richardson, and the rest of the team, get on? Locke looks back and finds out the answer is a rather English ‘not bad, not bad at all.’

Scenarios From 2004 ABout Kids Online Lives In 2014

Search’s Quiet Transformation

At some point in 2015, more searches on Google will be made from mobile devices than desk bound technology. That changes Google’s mission, and requires ‘changing the jet engines in mid-flight’ I could have put this in the ‘Long Read’ section of the week, it’s going to need twenty minutes and a strong cup of coffee, but Steven Levy’s look at Google Search in the world of smartphones and mobiles lays out the challenge for the company that is arguably the glue that holds the internet together.

How Google Search Dealt With Mobile

The Numbers Behind An Illusory Adventure

With the flag that it really is at the top of the ‘long tail’ the eight-strong team that make up the London-based Ustwogames has released the financials around the 2014 hit game Monument Valley (and it’s sequel/part two Monument Valley: Forgotten Shores) over on Tech Crunch. All the marketing strategies, awards, and promotion hide two basic facts. The first is that it is a really designed and gorgeous looking game. The second is that the biggest money earning strategy was… releasing new content.

The Cost And Reward Of Making A Hit iOS Game

Paying To Sleep In

Now this is just… evil. It’s an alarm clock for your smartphone, but the use of the snooze button is a freemium element. If you want another five minutes, you’re going to pay the developers. Every. Time.

This Alarm Clock Charges For Snoozes

This Week’s Long Read: Can I Come Down Yet?

It costs roughly the same as one carrier group for the US Navy, it is the pathfinder to getting off the Earth in the future and outliving the plant, it’s the waypoint to finding new resources in space, yet the story of the International Space Station (literally) goes over the heads of many people. Charles Fishman’s essay in The Atlantic will hopefully remedy that.

5,200 Days In Space

What have I been up to?

Only annoying the five BlackBerry überfans that are left with my review of the BlackBerry Classic. Bringing the BB Bold from 2008 forward seven years to 2015 is a… courageous strategy from BlackBerry’s CEO John Chen.

It’s also the time of year where my duties as the janitor of SXSW Baby! kick in as myself, Eric Young, and a team of contributors bring together the news, views, hints, and tips, to get the most from Austin’s SXSW festivals of music, film, games, health, interactivity, and everything else. The podcasts should kick off in February, but if you are heading to the Texan capital in march, bookmark the site!

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The Austin Connection

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

While this is the fifteenth airline leg so far this year, the current episode of ‘Where’s Ewan This Week?’ has nothing to do with the Eurovision Song Contest (okay, almost nothing, Manga are in town and I might bump into the boys in a Turkish bar). I’m en route to Austin, Texas, for my ninth trip to South by Southwest.

This is actually a strange feeling. The last few trips (Finland, Estonia, and especially Latvia) have felt like real adventures, to new locations (or in the case of Helsinki, seeing far more of the city and the surrounding suburbs than previously). But I’ve done the drag to Austin countless times for SXSW and more, so much of the trip feels like bumping into an old friend. I’ve stayed in the same hotel for the last six years, and there’s a comfort in knowing what to expect.

And that sums up SXSW for me. it’s a mix of exploration and new discoveries, along with old friends and familiar surroundings. Every year I have arrived at SXSW with a rough idea of what’s going to happen but leave much of the planning up to serendipity. Every year that has thrown up some amazing technology, new friendships that have endured, wonderful memories, and mentally fired me up ideas and inspiration.

As usual you can keep an eye on some of the fun from the Texan state capital on SXSW Baby!, with daily posts of things to do, thoughts on the event as it progresses, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting a few podcast interviews on the site.

If you are in Austin over the next two weeks and want to meet up for a chat, show me something fun, share some music, or anything else, then get in touch. The usual social media channels will work, but email is still the best (

The SXSW Music Sampler for 2014 is now available

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Over on SXSW Baby!, the annual 80 track sampler of the SXSW Music Festival has just been posted. Covering a wide range of musical styles, sounds, genres, and performers all playing in Austin this week and next, it brings together YouTube videos, Soundcloud clips, and other media in one handy file for you to unzip and pop on your current ‘device with an MP3 player’.

DOWNLOAD the SXSW Baby! “Best of SXSW 2014″ sampler link (314 Mb)

I wanted to create some great moments when listening to the songs, to have the music flow into each other, to have sequences that would allow you to both dip in and out of the sampler, or stick it on a five hour playlist (which should just about reach from the TSA screening at your local airport to the reception desk of your hotel – or twice through if you’re flying from Europe).

If the eighty tracks feels too much for you, then you can break it down to eight ten-track playlists.

  • Welcome to SXSW (Tracks 1-10)
  • The Second Bite Sounds Just As Nice (Tracks 11-20)
  • Chill Out And Kick Back (Tracks 21-30)
  • The Music Of America (Tracks 31-40)
  • Foot On The Amplifier (Tracks 41-50)
  • The Wonderful World of Music (Tracks 51-60)
  • Turn On The Electrics (Tracks 61-70)
  • We Hope It Never Ends (Tracks 71-80)

If you’re not sure, here’s the deal. Listen to the first ten tracks. I’m confident that not only will this give you a great hit of SXSW Music, but you’ll want to listen to the rest of the sampler.

Oh and our 2014 performers in full?

Adam Arcuragi, Ages and Agesm Air Traffic Controller, American Authors, The Apache Relay, Band of Skulls, Barcelona, Basia Bulat, The Belle Brigade, Black Books, Blacklist Royals, Boy & Bear, Bring Me The Horizon, Caroline Rose, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Cello Fury, Charli XCX, The Crookes, David Ramirez, The Devil Makes Three, East Cameron Folkcore, Elle King, Ezra Furman, Gabby Young and Other Animals, Good for Grapes, The Griswolds, Heymoonshaker, Hollis Brown, Honeyblood, Hozier, Hunter Hunted, James Bay, Jeetta, Judith Hill, July Talk, Kashmere Stage Band, Katie Herzig, Kill it Kid, Kongos, Kyle Andrews, Leif Vollebeck, Lincoln Durham, Lions in the Street, Little Daylight, London Grammar, The Lonely Wild, Los Lonely Boys, Magic Man, Mandolin Orange, Matrimony, Mia Dyson, Mighty Oaks, MisterWivers, Moon Taxi, Neulore, Nonono, Only Real, Pockets, Poolside, Quiet Company, Saintseneca, San Fermin, Shelby Earl, Skream, Sleeping At Your Door, Social Studies, Streets of Laredo, The Strypes, Talib Kweli, Timber Timbre, Tinariwen, Tom Easton, Typhoon, The Unlikley Candidates, Vnace Joy, Wardell, The Whigs, Wild Party, and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

Looking back at SXSW Music on The Rock Show

Monday, March 25th, 2013

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MP3 FileShow Notes – RSS Feed

Probably the first of a few weeks of ‘Rock Show podcasts’ powered by the bands and performers I found at this year’s SXSW Music. This week with Delta Rae, Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackets, Little Green Cars, Chappo, and Ruby Jane.

It looks like Twitter has finally broken ‘Is Scoble In This Room’

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

'Is Scoble In This Room' is broken?

Damm, now he can sneak up on you!

Travelling home via Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

So let me get this right. I walk through a door, sit down in a tube for a few hours, stand up and walk out the tube again. Do that three times, and I won’t be in Texas any more, but back home in Edinburgh?


Dear SXSW bands, where is all the merch?

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Something I’ve noticed at SXSW Music this year is the lack of merchandise on sale after a showcase. With over 2000 official performances, the people in the crowd are already invested in you. They’ve given up close to an hour of their time to listen to you. If they are up on their feet. cheering and applauding at the end of the gig… you’ve made the sale! You’ve got them! All you need to do is close the transaction and you have a fan for life!

Except in three nights of back to back showcases, only two artists I’ve seen have had CD’s on sale after the gig. When the short term musical memory is about to be over-written by the next band, it’s incredibly important to get a physical memory into the hands of your potential new fans.

Podcasting SXSW

Monday, March 11th, 2013

In case you’ve missed it, I’m doing a short (twenty minute) audio podcast/chat show every morning from Austin and SXSW. Head over to SXSW Baby! to listen in your browser, or subscribe to the RSS feed in your favourite player.

SXSW time, my US mobile number

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Or, to speak the lingo, here’s my cell while I’m in Austin.

512 993 4552

Those of you with my UK number can still use that (if you;’re quick, it is at roaming rates), but for everyone else, texts and calls while I’m around SXSW can be safely directed here. And then if you could forget the number as I’ll likely never use it again, that would be grand.

The SXSW Baby sampler album for SXSW Music 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Here are 80 tracks from bands, singers, and performers at this year’s SXSW Music, curated by myself and the team at SXSW Baby.

DOWNLOAD the SXSW Baby! “Best of SXSW 2013″ sampler link (314 Mb)