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Computer Weekly

Where Emerging Technology and Business IT Intersect

I’ve been a Computer Weekly contributor for a while, peppering the venerable title with the occasional review, opinion piece and even video.

Well, I have now fully grabbed the reigns of its Inspect-a-Gadget column, where my remit will be regular stories covering where emerging technology and business IT intersect. Or, less elegantly, what the latest gadgets and consumer tech mean for the workplace.

Among my recent stories there, I have looked at how the all-new Bluetooth 5 standard ups the ante for the Internet of Things, got an early hands-on with the QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry KEYone smartphone, and visited London Tech Week to meet a UK startup that claims to have cracked Siri for the office:

Earlier this week, I began looking at some new entries to Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017.

Keep an eye out for new stories on the Computer Weekly Inspect-a-Gadget column or head over to my Twitter feed.

bbc one logo

BBC X-Ray Summer Special – Photography Tips

David McClelland joins the BBC X-Ray team for a photography summer special.

As regular visitors here may know, I’m a photography nut. Naturally, I was very excited to be asked to be part of the BBC One Wales X-Ray Summer Special on how to make the most of your camera. I was pleased too that a primetime TV show had dedicated its slot to talk about photos – after all, with smartphones in almost every pocket now, snapping photos is something that many of us do all the time.

On a blustery afternoon in late-spring, I arrived by train into the picturesque Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth. Heading first for the seafront, and then to the Arts Centre, I spoke with presenter Lucy Owen about all manner of issues that might arise when taking pictures and sharing them online — even how to back them up:

The show also looks at how to take better pictures with your smartphone, how to get great footage while safely flying a drone, and how the National Library of Wales preserves its priceless collection of photos.

UK licence fee payers can watch the whole BBC One Wales X-Ray episode on BBC iPlayer.

Smashing Security

Sexy Cybersecurity: The Smashing Security Podcast

David McClelland turns the internet’s air blue as he guests on this week’s Smashing Security podcast.

I’ve been listening to and enjoying the Smashing Security podcast since it began late last year.

Hosted by security industry veterans Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault, the weekly show rounds up the latest news on hacks, data breaches and cyber security with a healthy dose humour and energy.

So, I had no hesitation when Graham asked if I might appear as a guest on the show. I suspect he may hesitate before asking me again though…

Tasked with covering some of the week’s news, I quickly rounded on three sex stories:

  • how the UK government plans to enforce age verification for sites serving adult content by April 2018
  • how the owner of the Ashley Madison website has set aside $11 million to settle with disgruntled users following the 2015 data leak
  • how one online adult service has introduced biometric authentication for male members

Needless to say, we covered the news with a professionalism befitting the material. Well, mostly. Hear for yourself:

To check out further episodes of the show, and to subscribe, visit the Smashing Security website.

frackulous technology podcast

Frackulous: a Technology Podcast for Humans

Frackulous is a technology podcast (for humans) featuring tech journo-turned-video whizz Will Head, Guinness World Record botherer-turned YouTube train traveller Geoff Marshall – and me.

Will, Geoff and I chat about being content creators and the tech that we use (with no apologies for geeking out on that part). What’s more, because we don’t like doing things the easy way, Frackulous is both a video and an audio podcast.

For his latest project, Geoff has been visiting all 2,563 UK mainland train stations, so recording has been a little sporadic of late. But with this latest episode, we’re back on track.

Here is that latest ep. After the gap.

Subscribe to Frackulous: a Technology Podcast for Humans on iTunes (audio and video), YouTube and lots of other places too. Visit frackulous.com to see previous episodes and shownotes.

The One Show - Toddlers and Tablets

Healthy Habits with Smartphones and Tablets – The One Show

This week I appeared on BBC1’s The One Show sharing advice on how parents can help their children to develop healthy habits when using smartphones and tablets.

One Show - Toddlers and TabletsFor the film, we visited a high street phone store and let a dozen under-elevens loose to observe how they used the selection of phones and tablets on display.

I’m a dad, and like most parents, I feel as if I’m making it up as I go along – which, of course, I am. How I introduce my children to technology is no exception.

Understanding a little about how children develop, what their needs are at different ages, and how easily influenced they are by adults around them, can all help make sure that children – and their parents – have a happy relationship with gadgets.

Technology offers amazing opportunities but, for me, the old adage that ‘too much of a good thing is a bad thing’ stands as true with smartphones and tablets as it does with anything else.

The One Show is on BBC1 at 7pm most evenings, viewers in the UK with a television licence can watch here.

Tech TV at London Tech Week 2017

It’s London Tech Week 2017 and all week I’m fronting Tech TV, the festival’s official broadcast channel.

Based at London Tech Week’s flagship event, TechXLR8, I am interviewing inspiring industry leaders, getting hands-on with some cutting-edge tech and…

…watching people fly around in jetpacks:

Richard Browning, the founder of Gravity, built the rocket man suit with the help of friends over eighteen months and is already a world record holder with it. Richard spoke live on the main stage at #LTW before heading outside and giving us a demo.

Now in its fourth year, London Tech Week showcases the capital’s bustling technology scene, bringing together cutting-edge developments in 5G, VR and AR, AI and Machine Learning, Connected and Driverless Cars, and more.

Tech vs Trolls: The Economics of Online Abuse

In today’s Metro, I ask how the tech firms are tackling online abuse.

Despite the efforts of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, many of the internet’s most popular destinations remain troubled by trolls.

When the trolls are in town, popular social platforms become unpleasant, unsocial places, not a carefree online destination to catch up with family and friends.

Some of those accused may claim they are exercising free-speech, but that doesn’t wash if the intent is to cause alarm or distress. Hurling abuse at somebody isn’t free speech, it’s hurling abuse at somebody.

So, isn’t it high time that tech firms stepped up their game to tackle the online abuse that runs riot on their platforms?

That’s what I examine in How tech is tackling trolls: how artificial intelligence, machine learning and image recognition are being deployed to disarm the trolls who terrorise the web.

However, there’s another angle to this that I’d like briefly to expand upon here: social networks need to tackle online abuse not only for their users’ sakes but for their investors’.

You see, for online social platforms driven by advertising – which is most of them – it is impossible to ignore the economics of trolling.

Economics of Trolling

Social networks are based on the principle that we humans are social creatures who like to express ourselves. The more we share, the more the networks know about us, and the more able they are to sell targeted advertising (ads that are, in theory, more relevant to us) on behalf of their partners.

Overall, it’s a happy relationship, and the numbers speak for themselves: almost 2 billion of us log in to Facebook every month to share status updates, likes and photos, from which it made almost $10 billion in 2016.

However, fear of unsocial behaviour on social platforms makes us more reluctant to express ourselves online; the less we share, the less they know and the less we visit, so the more it hurts the online platform’s ad revenues. The likes of Facebook and Twitter make nothing if we’re too afraid to use them.

Facebook and Twitter make nothing if we’re too afraid to use them

Twitter: We Suck

There are other ways in which the economics of online abuse can hurt too. Last year, Disney dropped its plans to buy Twitter over concerns that widespread trolling and bullying on the platform might, according to Bloombergsoil the company’s wholesome family image.

Months before, Twitter boss Dick Costolo wrote, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls,” adding “It’s no secret, and the rest of the world talks about it every day.”

It does: just ask Leslie Jones, Katie Price, Zelda Williams, Katie Price, and countless others who have made the news after leaping from the toxic platform, having unwittingly stirred the trolls’ nest.

Sound Investment

So, clamping down on unsocial behaviour is an obvious investment for businesses that rely on us being socially generous.

As I explore in the Metro feature, technology can go some way to weeding out abuse, but the trouble with automated tools is where the boundaries blur between abuse and robust argument. Even human moderators struggle with this and, for a while yet in my opinion, it’s likely AIs will too.

The RTE MoJoCon Mobile TV Studio

Live from Mojocon 2017: How mobile powered RTÉ’s pop-up multi-camera TV studio in Galway, Ireland

Last week, I was working with the RTÉ team at MoJoCon in Galway, Ireland. For the event’s live-streamed interviews, RTÉ set up a multi-camera TV studio. But, being MoJoCon, there was one major twist…

MoJoCon brings together broadcasters, journalists, filmmakers and social media specialists from around the world. Now in its third year, the event explores how new technologies – from smartphones to 360-degree cameras – are revolutionising the way we tell stories on television and online.

Teradek Live Show studio at RTE MoJoCon 2017

Teradek Live Show studio at RTE MoJoCon 2017 (image: Live X)

As was appropriate for a show focusing on mobile tech and the media, the RTÉ pop-up TV studio from which we live-streamed our interviews was powered by mobile.

It’s an impressive setup: the five studio cameras were Apple iPhone 6s plus smartphones, each kitted with superb quality Zeiss ExoLens lenses mounted on a Helium Core iPhone Rig; the vision mixing and encoding was handled by Teradek Live:Air running on an Apple iPad Pro 12.9 tablet.

For day-long power and belts and braces connectivity, the devices were hard-wired to Ethernet, although a wireless setup is perfectly possible too. I would say the only non-mobile component of the studio was the sound: traditional XLR-connected lavalier mics supplied a standard mixing desk, the master output of which fed into one of the mobile devices from which the Teradek software took its audio feed.

Here’s a clip from the end of day two where my co-host, the lovely Róisín Ní Thomáin, and I embarked on a quick studio tour.

Over two days of the show, Róisín and I interviewed some inspiring broadcasters, journalists and innovators including BBC Sport’s Conor McNamara, Story-Up’s Sarah Hill and Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum. The topics we covered were as broad as How to be an App Store Millionnaire, to The Evolution of 360, VR and AR Storytelling.

Further technical stuff about mobile studio has just been posted on the Teradek website, and all of the interviews are available on demand from the RTÉ MoJoCon YouTube channel.

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