Top Tech, Banksy, And A Bit Of Dust

A Bit Of Dust

As I write this I am on yet another train to London. I have back to back meetings all day, and it wasn't until someone said that they couldn't just pick a date for a meeting as I am booked up months in advance, that I actually realised, I am indeed booked up for months in advance. In fact, I now have meetings scheduled for August 2016 and beyond.

Old Mobile Technology
Retro but still working!

 

The problem is that I can't split myself up into multiple clones. The other problem is that however much I try to relax, the stress keeps me ticking. A little bit like the dust that sits on age old technology. Holding it together, keeping it working, until someone wipes it away, and then wonders why the 1982 disk drive no longer works.

That pretty much happened to me. I found an old flip phone made by Ericsson in a box hidden away in the attic. I looked at its simplicity, then I pressed on the power button. Some nine or so years after using it last.

It didn't turn on at all. Why was I surprised? I found the charger and plugged it in expecting to get a shock at the least. I did get a shock, the thing turned on emitting beeps and displaying a mono screen depicting Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. It was pay as you go, I tentatively dialled the number for the top up line, and £2.40 credit was still intact and apparently usable. I checked by dialling my cell number for my iPhone, the iPhone started to play the Breaking Bad theme tune, confirming that the top technology of 2002 still worked. The credit was still available, and the phone was still working.

I left it switched on to see just how good the battery was after all these years, three days in and I can safely say it is pretty good. It has dropped to 80%. In three days it has used just 20% or the same as around 30 minutes of heavy use on my iPhone.

A number of things surprised me apart from it actually firing up, mainly that the number was still working, and because the network had left the remaining credit available. Now I see pay as you go contracts which remove your number if the sim isn't used once every 90 days, and top up credit lasts 30 days and never rolls over. You have to ask yourself, just how much do mobile operators make from unused credit? Probably enough to pay a small islands national debt, probably not quite enough to bail out Greece. I have no idea, but certainly more than you and I make in ten years.

So why is it that just twelve years ago when the height of technology was a mono flip phone, did the battery last longer, credit remained intact, and the screen didn't shatter when you dropped it on a cushion? Today we will take a look at some of the top technology over the last 50-years, and I can guarantee you that it is all still used today.

Three new offers this week offering substantial savings on my art work are available from Fine Art America. All prints are offered on a museum quality stretched canvas, and will make any wall space a focal point. All three of the works are recent, so not only will you save some extra cash, you will also be getting some of my latest art work.

This week we have:

Sundial
Sundial By M.A

Sundial is a 24x20inch abstract printed on museum quality stretched canvas. Created by M.A in 2015, this is a rare opportunity to own one of M.As prints at such a low price. You can view it here.

Melting by MA
Melting by M.A
Melting is a 36x24 inch abstract printed on museum quality stretched canvas. Created by M.A in 2015, this is another rare opportunity to own one of M.As prints at such a low price. You can see Melting here.
Melting by M.A
Water Lilies
Water Lilies by M.A
Water Lilies by M.A is a wonderful and vibrant expressionist work that reflects light and Water Lilies in the water. It comes on a 36x24 inch museum quality stretched canvas and is available at this low price for a limited time only. It's available here.
Melting by M.A

BANKSY

Murals, or as some people would say, graffiti, believed to have been created by that elusive, yet brilliant street artist Banksy on walls in Detroit and Bethlehem are to be auctioned in September.

One of the artworks, Donkey Documents depicts a donkey having its papers checked by a soldier. It was painted on a barrier dividing the West Bank, Israel in 2007. The second piece, "I remember when all this was trees", was painted on the wall of a derelict Detroit factory in 2010.

Together the murals could fetch as much as $1m (£638,000). The Detroit mural is owned by a small non-profit gallery and the sale will raise funds for community art schemes. The works will be sold by Auction House Julien's who have not revealed who removed the work Donkey Documents from its original location, or who will benefit from its sale.

Julien's have said that it is the largest and most intact and significant Banksy mural in existence from the artists visit to Israel. The work will be displayed at an undisclosed location in London before the auction takes place in Los Angeles on the 30th September 2015.

Removing Banksy's work from their original locations is fuelled with controversy that many claim diminishes the artwork. When one piece was removed from a shop in London, protestors assembled, voices were raised, but it didn’t stop the work being sold for more than £750,000.

Banksy, if you're reading this, please come and doodle on the side of my house. It will upset the rather stuffy neighbours, but it will also massively increase the value of my house; and I can then buy somewhere by the sea and paint away forever more.

TOP TECH FROM THE PAST

The TV Remote Control

TV Remote
Now Canine Friendly

1955, and finally a way to change the two channels on TV without leaving the sofa. This was the year that the TV remote marked the end of humanities struggle. The first wireless remote was designed by Zenith’s Eugene Polley. Essentially it was little more than a flashlight. After discovering that direct sunlight could change the channel of the remote receptive TV, Zenith brought out a model that used ultrasound. This technology lasted until the 1980’s when it was then taken over by infrared, much to the delight of many a dog.

Float Glass

In 1959 we saw the introduction of float glass. This method of creating glass was created by British engineer Alistair Pilkington. Previously window panes were made by squeezing a sheet of red hot glass between two rollers rapidly. Although this was a cheap method to produce glass panes, it also meant that the glass had a tendency to distort everything.

What Pilkington did was to create a new process by floating molten glass on a bath of molten tin, which is naturally flat. The first factory to produce usable float glass was then opened in 1959, and around 90% of today’s glass is produced this way.

The Jet Airliner

Jet Engine
The Jet Airliner A Modern Wonder

 

1958 was the year that Boeing debuted the world’s first successful jet airliner. This was the defining moment that revolutionised the aircraft industry and made commercial jet travel accessible and more affordable. Carrying 181 passengers at a cruising speed of 600 mph, and a range of 5280 miles, the Boeing 707-120 was the opening for air travel for the masses. The first commercial flight took off in New York and travelled across the Atlantic to Paris.

The Robot

The Unimate was the first ever industrial programmable robot and was installed on a General Motors assembly line in New Jersey. The design was conceived by George C. Devol Jr, but his innovation only received a lukewarm reception in the United States.

Japanese manufacturers on the other hand actually welcomed the idea. The Japanese licensed the design in 1968 and went on to dominate the global market for industrial robots.

The Cordless Tool

Where would we be today had it not been for an invention in 1961 by Black and Decker? The company released a cordless drill but the design was hampered by the design team being unable to achieve more than 20-Watts from its NiCad batteries.

Undeterred the team carried on refining gear ratios to achieve better efficiency. The technology also put tools into the hands of NASA astronauts, and today is one of the staples of any trip to Home Depot in the U.S and B&Q in the U.K.

The Communications Satellite

Telstar was launched as the first ever active communications satellite, amplifying and retransmitting incoming signals instead of passing them back to Earth. All of this happened in 1962, and was the father of today’s global communications networks. Just two weeks after launch, President Kennedy held a press conference in Washington D.C. The first to be beamed across the Atlantic.

LED

Probably one of the most widely used technologies of today is the L.E.D or Light Emitting Diode if you want to be overly technical. Nick Holonyak was working for a company called General Electric when he created a simple and inexpensive way for computers to display and convey information.

Had it have not been for this technology, today we would not know when our coffee is brewed and we certainly would not have seen such a bright 290ft Reuter’s billboard in Times Square, New York.

Smokey

In 1969, the exact year I was born, and man landed on the moon, nuclear technology was brought into the home. Randolph Smith and Kenneth House patented a battery-powered device that could detect smoke in the home. Using a chunk of americium-241. The element's radioactive particles generate a small electric current. If smoke enters the chamber it disrupts the current, triggering an alarm. This is the cheapest nuclear technology you can own.

Music

Imagine in 1998, it doesn’t seem all that long ago at all, but this was the year that the MP3 player was introduced. It was essentially the end of traditional methods of playing music, but it also created a new digital era. This was long before Apple asked the question, "Which iPod Are You?"

A Korean company, Saehan introduced the MP Man, and when the Diamond Rio hit the shelves a few months later, the Recording Industry Association of America sued providing huge publicity and boosting sales of the platform. The rest is history and today we have digital downloads for everything, and the CD is now outdated.

So that’s a roundup of the best technology spanning over 50-years. It is amazing to think that all of it is still in use today, and I wonder if the technology we invent today lasts as long. The only technology I really hope goes away is the "Selfie Stick". Once again this week I was poked in the face by a tourist extending his reach to take a snapshot of a London bus. Believe me when I say I very nearly extended his reach even further so he could get real close.

Traditional Film

Talking of a resurgence and continuation of old technology, more and more photographers are dropping digital and reverting to the use of traditional film. Not too many years ago high streets were awash with photographic shops selling huge ranges of 110, 35mm, and the rare 120mm film for cameras.

Many of those shops closed with the development of digital, but it seems that some photographers and buyers of photography prefer the graininess of traditional film. It has been described as the vinyl effect. Sales over the last 24-months and to an extent even earlier have been on the increase for film. Some of the remaining independent photographic shops are now seeing a rising demand for traditional film processing, and far more than they are seeing for digital photographs.

Black and White photography is also on the increase using traditional film. Young people are the trending market, taking some cool black and white photographs in a way that is different to mobile point and click. Shooting in black and white is exciting. I have recently dabbled, albeit with digital technology in shooting black and white images, and I am impressed with the definition that black and white brings. When you process the shots further, add in HDR, and use good film grain textures, the results are similar to the traditional film, although in my humble opinion, not quite so well balanced.

It is a sales trend that echoes the re-emergence of vinyl. I wrote about the death of the CD and between then and now, I have started to play some of my older vinyl on my old and trusted Technics turntable. The sounds are deeper and somewhat richer and more lifelike. Younger people in particular are moving towards vinyl, more to possibly do with it being a hip thing to do currently, but for those of us who were growing up when vinyl and traditional film were the mainstays, we remember the era with fondness.

Now pretty much every mobile you buy today has a camera built in. Digital camera sales aimed at the point and click audience must surely be in decline? So what’s next for photography? Is traditional film just about buying memories from the past or is there still a market that could see the introduction of good quality traditional film cameras once again?

A difficult set of questions to answer and I would love to hear your views on traditional vs. digital photography. Do you still use it, or do you prefer the hand holding of a digital experience?

CHRISTIE’S

News that Christie’s New York will present the 16th Annual Staff Art Show. The Exhibition "No Apologies" runs between August 12th and the 26th, and is the 16th annual staff art show.

Christie’s had this to say. Christie’s is pleased to announce the 16th Annual Staff Art Exhibition, No Apologies, taking place August 12-26. Since its launch in 2000, this annual group show of artwork by Christie’s New York staff has given additional meaning to the company’s slogan, The Art People, offering the public a unique opportunity to view the astounding array of artistic expression at Christie’s, the world’s leading art business. This year’s exhibition includes over 100 works by 61 gifted artists from many departments throughout the company, including: Marketing, IT, Client Service, Legal, Christie’s International Real Estate, Christie’s Education, as well as Art Handlers.

No Apologies will offer collectors at all levels a chance to purchase* stunning works of art, in many different media, including photography, painting, works on paper, sculpture and multimedia constructions. Artworks will be available for purchase via an online auction; go to Christies.com for details. Visit Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza galleries between August 12 – 26, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. weekends, for an opportunity to connect with these emerging artists. A selection of highlighted works will be auctioned off live during the opening exhibition. For any bidding inquiries, please contact amendez@christies.com.

*Works on view will be for sale at the discretion of the artist. A buyer’s premium of 7.5% will be applied to each sale, which will be donated by Christie’s to the Christie’s Education Trust.

FACEBOOK

Facebook
Facebook The Social Giant

 

It is official, half of the world’s estimated online population check in to Facebook at least once per month.

Facebook said that the number of people who use it at least monthly grew 13% to 1.49 billion in the three months to the end of June. The number is equal to half of the estimated three billion people who use the internet worldwide. Of those users, well over half (65%) were accessing the social media giants platform on a daily basis.

The rise in monthly users helped to drive second quarter revenue up 39% year-on-year, to an astounding $4.04bn (£2.6bn), with mobile advertising revenue accounting for more than three quarters of the total.

They are clearly keeping people hooked despite all of the recent changes, although I still maintain that for small businesses, changes to organic reach and quality of content make it a less attractive platform. People spend more than one minute in every five connecting to Facebook on their smartphones.

The question of is this good news for investors is bleak. Despite what Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said was a "strong quarter", its shares fell more than 3% in afterhours trading. Facebook shares currently trading at $97 per share, rising 24% so far this year. This beats the 7.9% rise in the NASDAQ over the same period. The share price was expected to be more for the company which historically beats the forecasts, but the drop was linked to a concern over higher than usual expenses. Facebook said that costs and expenditures for the quarter had surged by 82% to a hefty $2.8bn. As a result, net income fell 9.1% to $719m - equal to 25 cents a share, but the firm said if various expenses were excluded earnings would have been 50 cents a share.

Mark Zuckerberg said the costs reflected "ongoing investments and improvements" it had made, such as its new data centre in Texas, which had helped reduced crashes on the network.

To be fair some warning was given back in April that costs would increase so it is not totally unexpected. At that time Facebook had indicated that expenses rise by up to 65% due to various improvements in new staff, changes aimed at improving mobile revenue, and the costs of making improvements to products such as its WhatsApp and photo-sharing app, Instagram. Now the company is saying that expenses will be cut from the expected 65% to 60%.

The social networks share price dropped, despite beating expectations in revenue, mobile advertising growth and pretty much every other measure that can be applied as a signal of good company health. But the reality is that investors and analysts really do not like the look of the company’s expenses of $2.7bn for the quarter, up from $1.5bn this time last year. Although the company are investing in new data centres, and new ways to engage people online, investors, despite understanding it, are also nervous about the extra spending.

Facebook have also recently stated the increasing importance of video saying that usage of video is growing. Next year it hopes to start selling its 3D Oculus Rift Virtual reality headset. Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that both video and gaming will be huge, and once a critical mass is reached they can develop a social app which they are more specialised in.

If Facebook really want to start bringing in extra income they do need to invest heavily. The concern is probably more around a lack of understanding from a proportion of investors who perhaps need some additional confidence that the company is doing the right thing.

Everyone realises that if you run a retail business in the high street and you suddenly see an increase in foot traffic, it makes sense to move to a bigger shop. With technology moving as fast as it is today, Facebook really do need to be ahead of the game. There is a lot of new competition with social media networks popping up and trying to be the next Facebook. The reality is that Facebook is a known entity and despite its perceived privacy issues in the past, it’s also a trusted social network.

Twitter has experienced problems in the last few weeks where they admitted that user growth is desperately slow. The fact that Facebook is increasing its user base has to be recognised by its investors. To do this, just as you do with a high street shop, it has to expand. Let’s hope that they don’t go too far and move in the wrong direction. Getting the balance right is what counts.

MEANWHILE TWITTER’S BOSS IS NOT SO HAPPY

Twitter's revenue and earnings for the second quarter have beaten expectations, but co-founder Jack Dorsey has said he is "not satisfied" with its user growth. The micro blogging site posted revenue of $502m, up 61% year-on-year and beating its own top forecast of $485m.

Active users, reached the grand total of 316 million in the period, only slightly increasing on the 308 million reported in the first quarter. Mr Dorsey has said that "We have unbelievable brand awareness, but people are not clear why they should use it".

The bulk of new users came from SMS fast followers. Users who sign up for relevant text alerts but who do not need a Twitter account. Excluding these fast followers, active users rose by just 0.7% compared to the previous quarter.

Maybe it is because people have more to say than the 140 character limit. 140 characters is a difficult target to tell a story. Initially this was fine, it was a novel way of keeping in line with the amount of characters available in an SMS text message. Today’s social media users want real content, and Google, Facebook and others have already figured out that quality counts. Maybe it’s time for a Twitter+ platform. Expand the character count, and provide some great content with an appropriate context.

I really would welcome your views on how useful or relevant Twitter is, do you agree that they should start adapting in order to compete with the myriad of other social networks, or do you want it to stay the same?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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