About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

FIVE GOLD GIFTS… Lumie Bodyclock luxe 750DAB

This alarm clock is not cheap, but looks good, tells the time and has a great radio

lumieThe alarm clock has changed over the past 20 years and instead of being woken by a monstrosity of bells and an unwieldy device, it’s generally our mobile phones that awaken us.

These ringtones from our phone have also changed. No longer are we woken abruptly as if we have to go down the pit, the very nature of our jobs, especially knowledge workers, is to be awoken by something more benign and chilled; something that makes us love the morning, not despise its very meaning.

So welcome to the Lumie Bodyclock luxe 750DAB, a sexy little piece of kit that looks like it comes from the future, but with a functionality that belongs to the past (in a good way).

Like all tech devices nowadays, it takes time to set it up, the four frontal buttons are a little difficult to control, but once the basics have been done, the Bodyclock really does seem as onomatopoeic as it sounds.

It’s so much nicer listening to the radio when trying to nod off to sleep, knowing that you will be in the clouds with the sheep before the radio turns itself off, it makes insomnia a stranger and that’s a very good thing.

The alarms are also wondrous. There are swatches to choose from and if you prefer falling rain and natural birdsong to bells and whistles, then your (recently awoken) dreams have all come true with a duration from 15 to 90 minutes. One tap to send to snooze.

The Lumie also uses fully dimmable bedroom lighting using mixed LEDs to mimic the colours of a real sunrise/sunset. It also has hiigh quality Bluetooth speakers, DAB radio and more than sleep and wake sounds with a seven-day alarm setting. It also claims to treat SAD and those winter blues.

It’s not cheap at £199.99, but it will last a lifetime and that will be a lifetime of dreams that are not shattered, but filled with a longing for the morning, brought alive by sounds that almost replicate Circadian rhythms. Sleep well!

BOOK REVIEW – Chasing Black Unicorns by Marek Zmysłowski

Marek Zmysłowski is an amazing entrepreneur who has written a real-life thriller based on his career in Poland and, most intriguingly, Africa.

Zmysłowski

I have met Marek Zmysłowski twice in Africa and, more recently, in London. The nights we had in Johannesburg and Lagos were legendary, but a gentleman never tells.

He is a Polish firebrand and whirlwind, driven by entrepreneurial zeal and loves life almost as much as I loved his book, Chasing Black Unicorns.

They say that there is a book inside every journalist… and that’s where it should stay. I would also say that there’s a book inside every entrepreneur and that’s where it should be buried, but not in this case.

This story is more like a Robert Ludlum African-based thriller and it rolls and rolls like an exciting rollercoaster.

It begins slowly with a young Zmysłowsk dreaming of big things in a small Polish town. His ambition knows no bounds as he chases the zloty and dollar by working in finance and, memorably, in the funeral business. He spends what he earns and he loves spending as his internet pioneering makes him a Polish player.

Then an opportunity arises with Rocket Internet to set up the ‘African equivalent of Expedia’ in Nigeria. Zmysłowsk takes up the challenge and heads to Lagos and in the next couple of years does the almost-impossible in doing exactly that.

Then the problems begin. Agent provocateurs, dissembling investors, strategies-from-above and all of the above magnified by the chaos of Nigeria mean trouble for Zmysłowsk. Not only is he ousted from the business he built up, but his new venture is seen as a threat.

Before he knows it, he is on Interpol’s most wanted list and endures prison after being arrested at Warsaw airport expecting to be extradited to Nigeria.

I won’t spoil the ending because there is much to read and admire here. His writing is crisp and he never loses faith even when the Gods seem out to screw him over. His book is a hell of a ride, I recommend you join him. A really excellent story.

Finalists announced for the AIBC Awards on blockchain island

Grammy-winning artist Akon and AKOIN co-founders Lynn Liss and Jon Karas will present the Social Impact Award at AIBC next month

AIBC

AIBC Summit has announced the finalists for the Malta AIBC Awards taking place 7th November 2019, at the InterContinental Hotel, St Julian’s Malta.

On the first day of the summit, the AIBC Awards ceremony will honour the best of the best in the worlds of AI, blockchain, tokenisation, robotics, IoT, and more. The awards evening includes a gala charity dinner at the InterContinental ballroom. This fund-raiser is organised by SiGMA Group and all proceeds will go towards The SiGMA Foundation.

Thousands of nominations were received for consideration and 30 experts from the blockchain, AI and deep tech space have chosen three finalists in each category. The winners of each award will be decided by a panel of 7 judges of influence within the industry.

Finally, it has now been confirmed that Grammy-winning artist Akon will also be judging the Social Impact Award along with AKOIN co-founders Lynn Liss and Jon Karas.

The finalists are as follows:

PAYMENT SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR 2019
Finalists: Wirex/Salamantex/Trustly

DAO BUILDING OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AmaZix)
Finalists: Dash/MakerDAO/DAOcasino

IOT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by Momentum Protocol)
Finalists: The Things Network/Deloitte/Yptokey

SOCIAL IMPACT AWARD 2019 (sponsored by Lucky.io)
Finalists: Fintech4Good/Ethichub /Give Foundation

BEST AI APPLICATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by TakaMaka)
Finalists: SingularityNET/Spacept/Unbiased

MASS ADOPTION PROJECT OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AmonTech)
Finalists: Salamantex /Future1Exchange/HUPAYX

FINTECH STARTUP OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by OVR)
Finalists: AeroBand/Cashaa/Pynk

ASSET TOKENIZATION OF THE YEAR 2019 (sponsored by AeroBand)
Finalists: TaoDust/BlackMantaCapital/STOBOX

BLOCKCHAIN & AI FOR ARTS AWARD 2019 (sponsored by Black Manta Capital)
Finalists: Solarex/Umnai/Domineum BlockChain Solution

DEFI AWARD 2019 (sponsored by 8 PAY)
Finalists: MakerDAO/Sologenic/Simply VC

Malta AI & Blockchain Summit is a bi-annual expo covering topics relating to the global sectors for blockchain, AI, Big Data, IoT, and Quantum technologies. The event includes conferences hosted by globally renowned speakers, workshops for industry learning and discussion, an exhibit space accommodating more than 400 brands and much more.

BOOK REVIEW: The Emoji Revolution by Philip Sergeant

Emoji are part of today’s language and this book explains them wonderfully.

emoji

I promise I will not use emoji to illustrate this article. I promise I will not use emoji to illustrate this article…

… but it’s not going to be easy.

This really is a wonderful book, a fantastic guide and a fascinating exploration of language, gesture and how we call communicate.

There are those who think emoji are symbols that children use, but their importance stretches out in the world and probably as far back as cavedwellers who used to like writing on walls.

Like many, I use these strange symbols and I find myself doing that more often as social networks begin to proliferate, but I usually use the same ones without any real idea what I’m trying to say. After reading this book, I now know how much detail and subtlety is needed when using them.

On first look, I didn’t think I’d feel this way. The cover was underwhelming, the pages were as shiny as the heaviest of academic books and the text was, bizarrely, unillustrated apart from black-and-white emoji. I expected a stodgy read.

My experience was the polar opposite. Coming in at just under 200 pages, the book is not a quick read, but the information therein is delivered with aplomb, beautifully written and full of old and future knowledge.

From the weird control of the 12 Western people who sit on the board of the Unicode Foundation to Marcel Duchamp to Moore’s Law to the etymology of obscure words such as ‘snollygoster’, this is a work that loves words as well as symbols.

As a person who loves books and words, I learnt more here than I ever would in three Malcolm Gladwell novellas and with enough emoji knowledge to hold my own at a dinner party… or children’s tea party.

After years of reviewing books, this was the greatest surprise of them all and if you were wondering what snollygoster meant, it was an early 20th Century word, favoured by Harry Truman, describing a shrewd, but dishonest person, especially one involved in politics.

Sound familiar? Perhaps we could bring it back… and without an emoji in sight.

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