BOOK REVIEW: Ends by Joe Macleod

Ends – From advertising to products and even to death, we tend to put too much emphasis on beginnings, not endings.

ends

Ends is a book that focuses on how humans are very happy being taken on a journey from the beginning, but we find it difficult to face the end of such journeys. Naturally, the notion of death is the ultimate example.

I met the book’s author, Joe Macleod, in Sofia recently after he spoke at a conference. He has the look and mien of somebody obsessed with design and his book reflects that passion.

It’s a fascinating concept and one that held my interest, not only when I met him, but also while reading his book, a quick read that shouldn’t take a devoted reader any longer than two days.

Macleod has had an interesting career working for companies such as Nokia and talks about how advertising sets people up for a beginning with a product, but doesn’t prepare them for the inevitable ending.

Nokia is a case in point. When it once ruled the mobile world, mobile devices were replaced even faster than they are today, but Nokia wanted people to buy more, more, more and that led to a world of used devices that nobody knew how to recycle.

Moreover, in the space of 12 months Nokia went from being one of the world’s most popular brands to one that finished faster than anybody expected. Nobody was ready for that ending.

Macleod is a clear writer, but the concept can feel a little elusive at times. It’s an easy read, but there’s a huge idea in there that wriggles away from the reader as he/she grapples with answers… perhaps Macleod needed a better editor.

As an ex-Fleet Street sub-editor, I find any book with typos a crime against humanity and there are several in this book. However, I still enjoyed reading it and understand where the writer was coming from.

Typos and editing aside, this is a decent read for anybody trying to make sense of how it’s all going to end.

Available now on Amazon for £16.99 or £5.99 on Kindle (the latter being maybe the better option).

REVIEW: PaMu TWS wireless earphones

The PaMu TWS is a really good addition to the range of excellent wireless earphones.

PaMu

The PaMu TWS wireless earphones are a product of crowdfunding and while that platform can sometimes be overhyped and insubstantial, it regularly turns out useful products. In this case, an excellent one.

When reviewing such products, I usually road test them myself, then ask my teenage son to do the same and he usually comes up with the better ideas and suggestions.

I’m not generally a fan of devices that keep music quiet and personal in people’s ears. I hated Sony Walkmans when they first came out and I have never really changed since that time. I like music to be shared, I like to hear it loud and I like it flawed and analogue.

My teenage son, however, is literally wired differently, his head is continually in his ears listening to music and he loved the PaMu TWS, not least because of the sound quality, but the cuteness of charging them.

There’s no need to think outside the box, the earphones are charged within the box and he won’t allow me to take repossession of them, which is its own positive story.

The company’s claim that these earphones never fall out are also credible, I tried everything I could to get rid of them, but they stayed in place. They’re also water-resistant and it’s good to use a product that seems to be made for the long-term, not just a short-term throwaway piece of gimcrack.

Available in black or white and currently retailing at $79 (£59) at a discount from the future price of $100, these earphones are an excellent option for a birthday or Christmas present.

It’s only June, but maybe it’s time to put in a Christmas order to the teenagers in your life, they’ll thank you for it, take my (and my son’s) word for it.

Where you can ACTUALLY use bitcoin to buy stuff

Bitcoin is a currency, bitcoin is a commodity, bitcoin is a sham, bitcoin is the future, bitcoin is a conspiracy theory. Bitcoin should be upper-case, bitcoin should be lower-case.

bitcoin

Bitcoin isn’t as good as Ethereum, bitcoin cash is a better bet than bitcoin. Bitcoin was just lucky, blockchain is the important thing. Bitcoin is the blockchain, blockchain is lower-case for non-bitcoin. I could go on and on and on and on…

All of the above may be true, but where can you actually spend it if you have some? This comprehensive infographic from the clever image wizards at 16Best and I quote…

“Everybody will remember 2017 as the year when cryptocurrencies skyrocketed in value, especially bitcoin. While bitcoin had been slowly rising since its creation, 2017 was the year when its value went from around $1.000 to almost $20.000, making some of the naysayers rethink their stance on cryptocurrencies.

“Even though cryptocurrencies faced a lot of backlash in their early years, today almost everyone is on the bitcoin bandwagon. Of course, some countries are still resisting, but the vast majority have embraced it. In a relatively short time, bitcoin went from being an obscure currency on the internet to a payment method of the future used by big-name brands in hundreds of countries.

“Now companies such Shopify, Subway and Tesla have fully accepted bitcoin payments, and you can pay for any of their products or services with them.

However, even if a company doesn’t support bitcoin, there are some creative ways to buy their best products with it. For example, Gyft.com will help you buy Nike shoes with Bitcoin, while Expedia has embraced this cryptocurrency altogether.

“If you are interested in learning what other companies are accepting Bitcoin, then this infographic is tailor-made for you. Just scroll down and prepare to be amazed at how many of them are there.”

FIVE SUMMER GIFTS #6 – Cybersecurity device Fingbox

Cybersecurity in the home is as weak as a cokehead’s nostril, but the Fingbox is an excellent device that protects the domestic environment from web prowlers, snoopers and black hats.

finbox

There’s a 1960s pulp Sci-Fi film that terrified me as a kid; my trauma must have been so complete that I can’t (or won’t) remember its name. The terror it engendered was because of a TV that monitored people’s homes, even in the bedroom.

It was like a rubbish 1984, but it was still horrifying, the only good news being that it was impossible to happen in my lifetime. Ha! Thank God I didn’t know at the time that n 2018 everybody with a decent broadband connection has opened their doors, TVs or devices to anybody who wants to watch.

The ignorance and fragility of IoT devices, especially those in the home, are staggering. Easy-to-read passwords, an internet this is rarely switched off and bad people looking for a way in have it easy.

So step forward the Fingbox, a physical device that works with a downloadable app that warns of any external infringements and works somewhat better than a tripwire and a can in the back garden.

The Fingbox is not cheap, but what price piece of mind? Retailing at £125 from THAT website that also constantly monitors you, it connects to the home router and offers a range of services to protect the home.

Technical Specifications

* Monitoring of all wired and wireless devices on a network
* Two-year warranty
* No subscription fees
* 1 GB/s Ethernet port
* ARM 7 processor
* 4GB home board storage

For somebody like me, and you too I would suspect, it takes time to set up the Fingbox and to connect it with the app, but for those who know their tech (not least the bullet-points above) it should be easy.

When I had finally got it working, I really felt safer and, more worryingly, it has already flagged up attempts to tap into my home network. Those people REALLY are watching, it’s not Sci-Fi, it’s here and cannot be ignored.

Take your home security seriously. There are other products out there that offer the same type of protection, but I would look at the Fingbox first, it could be your friend in the future.

Everything you ever needed to know about blockchain

Picking your way through technology is harder than remembering the acronyms that govern our lives.

As the word ‘blockchain’ moves out of its humble bitcoin beginnings, many profess to know what it means while secretly munching their eyelashes at not getting it.

However, have no fear, the creative people at BitFortune.net have kindly supplied you with the following infographic that should still your beating blockchain heart.

Future conferences, dinner parties or even conversations with builders in dodgy pubs are no longer congregations of fear. Instead, you can dazzle, learn, share and you might even copulate.

Please see below…