Thursday 15 September 2016

new school term - the eternal challenge

08:23 Posted by G No comments

Parent : What did you do at school today ?
Every child ever : nothing

I came across this article (and while very American) there's a couple of quite neat alternatives to try and get blood from the proverbial stone and elicit a sensible response from a child.  There's 30 in the list, but these are the ones that stuck out to me :

  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  • What was the nicest thing you did for someone else?
  • Who made you smile today?
  • Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?
  • When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
Full article here

Friday 5 August 2016

Giving blood

19:14 Posted by G No comments
I am a huge fan of the NHS, and as learnt from my dad, giving blood is really important to me.  Few things made me as proud (and restores your faith in our country) as during the bombing of 7/7 queues of ordinary London folk outside hospital's waiting to give blood.

Anyway enough of me rambling on, having given blood 2 weeks ago, I got this text from the National Blood and Transplant service :

Pretty cool I reckon, its obvious that they would have an amazing inventory and tracking system, but to the feedback that mine has been used, is not only cool, but really incentivises me to make sure I'm booked in again - nice work whoever thought that up !

GE boss on culture, coding and staff evaluations

19:14 Posted by G No comments
Interesting from GE, a couple of statements just out :

" Which brings me to how we will get there - our culture. We may be a century-old company, but we need to move quickly, take risks, fail fast and behave like a startup to keep winning. I joined GE 34 years ago, and until recently our management could make every decision in the headquarters. Those days are over.  We have to embrace decentralization and use technology to help our people to stay connected and allow more automated decision-making so you can look at an app and see what’s going on inside the company.

But culture is not just apps. It's a combination of people and technology. If you are joining the company in your 20s, unlike when I joined, you’re going to learn to code. It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code. We are also changing the plumbing inside the company to connect everyone and make the culture change possible. This is existential and we’re committed to this."

"We are also changing the way we evaluate our people. We’re trying to end anything that was annual or quarterly and make everything more real-time. We wanted to make the feedback process more like how we give each other advice in the real world. Instead of an annual review, we have an app PD @ GE where our people are getting continuous insights from their colleagues that they can use to get better every day."

GE is an interesting company, the few people that I know who have worked there, all rave about the culture, and what a great company to work for they, and that always amazes me for big companies to get that right.  They are also making a big push on digital, setting up a digital business unit, and it's interesting to see them continue to talk about culture, and I like the fact they are moving away from annual reviews (fast feedback is key), and that everyone will be trained to code.

full article here :

Monday 1 August 2016

Dan TDM - who knew

19:10 Posted by G No comments
my kids are 12 and soon to be 10, so as we head into the teenage years, my wife and I are expecting less and less conversation and more and more grunts and general huffing (Kevin the teenager behaviour).

However for a couple of hours last night, they were the most animated I've seen them in a long time.  The reason - Dan TDM was in town.  Dan is a Vlogger, who mostly creates videos about Minecraft.  Over the last 5 years Dan has amassed over 11 million subscribers to his Youtube channel.  This is a staggering number in anyone's book.

What really caught me off guard (apart from how excited about seeing him live the kids were) was just the general level of celebrity endowed upon Dan and his wife Gemma.  He seems like a nice enough bloke, and the kids loved the show as you can see from the photo...!

In the cold light of day this morning I looked at who the biggest Vloggers are in the UK.  What's very interesting is that the top 5 is :

  1. One direction
  2. KSI
  3. Adele 
  4. Dan TDM
  5. Zoella

this makes Dan the biggest Youtuber that's not a musician, which is pretty phenomenal when you think about it.

Certain amount of dad kudos (in short supply these days) was Dan liking our tweet...!

Thursday 7 July 2016

Accidental minimalism

09:36 Posted by G No comments
I went to a connected home briefing for insurers earlier in the week, run by Jeremy Burgess of The Insurance Network.

I was pleasantly surprised that the room was filled with senior insurance bods from across the market, but then again that could have been the free full english at the top of the Gherkin that attracted them.  Or it could be that listening to my colleague Rob Moore (head of partnerships at Hiscox) talk about his thoughts on the connected home.

Rob gave a very interesting talk about our approach, and referenced the 2015 report that Hiscox produced called - What will the home of the future look like?  (link).  Rob talked around a few key themes :

Product - what will be selling, and who's problem are we fixing.  Historically we've been very good at selling insurance, but if the customer has a fully connected home, what do they want insured?  this is where the ‘accidental minimalism’ phrase turned up.  I'd not heard this before, but Rob and the report explains :

As even more of what we own becomes virtual (books, music, films, photographs), we will become ‘accidental minimalists’ – freeing up space previously allocated for bookshelves and placing even greater importance on the items we choose to display in the home.  Less cluttered houses, with less space devoted to storage, will facilitate even more flexible use.

What's interesting about this is that as we move our possessions to rent rather than buy, what are we insuring ?  Replacing a CD collection after a fire would be a huge and expensive undertaking, but if all your music is via Spotify / Deezer / Apple Music etc, there is nothing to replace (apart from the playback devices).  This is a very different world for us as insurers.

Rob also talked about distribution and partnerships; with the brave new world of IoT devices, it doesn't seem sensible (or credible) for insurance companies to be providers of IoT devices or platforms.  What makes much more sense is to become partners in a much wider group to build an 'ecosystem' of solutions that has greater relevance to the customer.

This is very much an emerging market, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out...

Yamaha RN-301 Networked Amplifier Airplay not working

08:41 Posted by G 1 comment

I've been having problems with my RN-301 not being able to use it as an Airplay target, the rest of the functions worked fine.  I knew the networking was fine as I could connect to it via the mobile apps over the home wifi, but for some reason Airplay wasn't working.  After trying a firmware upgrade (see my other article here) not fixing it, again I had to resort to old school methods and actually speak to someone.  Ringing tech support is always an ordeal, but I'm pleased to report that Yamaha we're very good, after a little IVR choosing, I got through to a tech support person, who was helpful and knowledgable.

after skipping through have you rebooted your router and the amp (!), he suggested doing a factory reset.  After talking me through how to do this, and a quick reference to the manual, I did this.  As he suggested you can tell the reset has happened,  as the 'friendly name' is reset, and the volume is back to it's default of 40.

once I'd done this, and reconnected to the mobile app, all was working again.  Not entirely sure why it stopped working, but most happy that it's back.

Resetting to defaults is in the advanced menu...

and is on Page 41 of the manual (link

Thanks to Yamaha tech support, very helpful, unfortunately I didn't get the guys name, but he knew what he was talking about.

Yamaha RN-301 Networked Amplifier Firmware Upgrade

08:30 Posted by G No comments

I thought I’d post this article as it wasn’t very straight forward how to do this.  I didn't even know that the firmware was out of date (I was running version 1.02) which I think introduced the Spotify capability.

Anyway Airplay had stopped working for me, so being a computer nerd, I thought I'd get it up to the latest firmware (as this is what all tech support people say..). Checking the Yamaha site doesn't yield anything useful (link), and I couldn't find anything useful on the typical AV forums, so as a last resort I read the manual (!).  Deep within the manual are steps to upgrade the firmware.  

Page 41 has the advanced options, the key to success is starting the Amp in advanced mode.  To do this turn the amplifier off.   Then (with the amp off) hold the return button, and at the same time press the power button.  This should then show you 'advanced' (or something similar) on the front of the amp.

At this point you can follow the instructions in the manual (link) and it's relatively straight forward (you need to make sure that your amp is connected to the internet to be able to download the firmware.  It didn't take too long, maybe 10 minutes ?

A couple of oddities; I don't know what the current firmware (1.04) gives me, I can't find any release notes ??  also I only found out there was a firmware update available by connecting to the amp from one of the mobile apps (iOS or Android) if you have these installed, going to the more options button will show firmware version and there should be some text saying either 'firmware up to date' or 'firmware update available'.

Secondly it is possible to connect to the amp via a web browser, find the machines IP address either by the network menu on the device, via the mobile app, or your routers DHCP reservation list.  Once you connect to it, there's very little you can usefully do. It's possible to change the friendly name (you can also do this via the front panel/remote or the mobile apps [much easier]), but there's also an option to upgrade the firmware via this web control panel, however you need the firmware file to do this, which I've not been able to find, so I don't recommend this route at all !  use the method described above (and in the manual)

UPDATE :  I tweeted Yamaha AV UK yesterday, and they've kindly replied, when they do post the release notes, I'll update this article