Category Archives: Book review

My Favourite Gadget, Book and App in 2016

Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are for 2016:

Favourite gadget

A smartwatch. I never expected them to be this useful.

During the summer I ran my first marathon and bought a running watch to track my runs. The watch, a Garmin Forerunner 235, has a number of smartwatch features, including alerts that show on my phone, such as text messages, calls, Facebook alerts and so on, also show on my watch.

The watch also has a step and sleep counter, which I’d never as useful beforehand, but the step counter is moderately addictive. I can tell how well I sleep – I don’t need a watch to tell me.

Although the user interface on the watch is terribly over complicated, I still love the watch. Friends who have an Apple Watch still need to charge them daily, and the Forerunner can last at least a week.

Favourite book

The book that stopped me tweeting before boarding flights

I haven’t read as many books this year, but my favourite was ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson. I like Ronson’s style of writing, and I’m constantly worried (and telling the kids) of the dangers of a simple social media update upsetting others.

If you are interested in social networks, I thoroughly recommend the book. Since reading the book I try not to tweet when I’m boarding a plane, just in case autocorrect strikes.

Favourite app

I have a few friends who have started producing podcasts, and they use Podbean. I’ve been using the Podbean app for a while, but I still don’t find it very intuitive. It could be much simpler.

My favourite app for 2016 was Google Maps. Google have released a number of new, really good features. As a family we travel all over the UK. Google Maps has excellent voice recognition and smart route navigation, taking real-time traffic into account. But the 2016 killer feature is being able to search for something en-route, such as a petrol station or a specific restaurant. This is also voice controlled, and results are shown along the route.

 

This leaves me to wish everyone who reads this site, and your family, a wonderful holiday period, together with a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Book review: The Fintech Book

The Fintech Book, a paper version of a decent blog. Sticky bookmarks are mine and do not come as standard
The Fintech Book, a paper incarnation of a decent blog. Sticky bookmarks are mine and do not come as standard

The Fintech Book is a crowdsourced compilation of articles from 168 authors. It’s more of reference book for a reader to dip in and out than reading cover to cover.

The articles are a range of medium to long blog posts, often with accompanying graphs or diagrams. The design layout is well presented with a nice orange theme. Every so often there’s a graphic which has been pasted into the book in its original format, which breaks the nice theme.

It would have been nice to have seen some real heavyweight C-level managers from the big banks or financial institutions provide some ‘keynote style’ Fintech posts in the book. Or at least provide a review of the book among the other 21 endorsements on page one as you open the front cover to add some immediate credibility. Authors from Lloyds (twice), PwC and McKinsey have provided articles, and job titles like “Business Analyst” and “Senior Manager” appear regularly in authors’ descriptions. I don’t intend any disrespect to them – perhaps these are the thought leaders in these organisations. Continue reading Book review: The Fintech Book

Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The original WhatsApp conversation with Ben Innes' "selfie"
The original WhatsApp conversation with Ben Innes’ “selfie”

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a fast paced, easy-to-read book that highlights the power of group behaviour on social media.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is the latest book from Jon Ronson, the journalist from the Guardian. Jon Ronson is the English equivalent of America’s Malcolm Gladwell, combined with Louis Theroux’s modus operandi. Jon Ronson’s books cover those sections of society that are either taboo or push us slightly outside of our comfort zone, and it’s here that Ronson often defends those people the most.

The book is about the public shaming that some people have been subjected to on social media. He provides some case studies of people whose lives have been significantly changed by a single post on Facebook or Twitter. These individuals aren’t always celebrities – some had just a couple of hundred followers. These case studies set the context of the post right up to modern day consequences for the user. Continue reading Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

My Favourite Gadget, Book, App and Award in 2015

Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are:

Favourite gadget

Gone are the days of opening Word. Now its a case of "Which Word?"
Windows 10 – a second placing for new technology of 2015

In early December my trusty Samsung S4 finally died. It had a few battle scars from daily use (read: abuse) yet worked well. One day it decided not to charge its battery any longer and despite changing a few components it was time to replace it. I had the offer of an iPhone but chose a Samsung S6 (you should have seen the look on my kids’ faces at the prospect of turning down an iPhone) – and I love it. It’s fast, big (almost tablet like) and stable. It’s the best phone I’ve owned.

Another contender is Windows 10 (OK, not really a gadget, but new technology). Continue reading My Favourite Gadget, Book, App and Award in 2015

Book Review: Authenticity – What Consumers Really Want by James Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II

Perhaps Variety would describe Authenticity as "Aficionados of Academic Books will Savor The Approach"
Perhaps Variety would describe Authenticity as “Aficionados of Academic Books will Savor The Approach”

Authenticity by Gilmore and Pine has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, from 27 reviewers. I found it dull, boring and purely academic.

In 1999 I went to the cinema with my wife to watch the award-winning “The Thin Red Line”. I like war films, especially about the Second Word War. After a while we walked out of the cinema because we were both bored and thought there were better things to do. 15 years later, it now has a rating of 7.8 out of 10 by 121,086 users on IMDb. Perhaps we missed something from the film.

Perhaps Big Data can show a correlation between The Thin Red Line and Authenticity. At least with the film I think we saw about an hour before leaving. With the book, I left it on page 27 (out of 251). And that was on my third attempt – I trudged through a few pages, left it for weeks and tried returning. Continue reading Book Review: Authenticity – What Consumers Really Want by James Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II

Book Review: The PR Masterclass by Alex Singleton

The PR Masterclass: A great handbook for professionals and amateurs like me
The PR Masterclass: A great handbook for professionals and amateurs like me

The PR Masterclass “How to develop a Public Relations strategy that works!” does what is says on the tin. It covers all aspects of PR. It is full of practical tips and Dos and Don’ts, based on Singleton’s experience on both sides of the fence – as a journalist and a PR professional.

I don’t work in PR, I’m not a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and I don’t click on email ads. However I received an email from the Chartered Institute of Marketing announcing a new book “The PR Masterclass” and bought it. Continue reading Book Review: The PR Masterclass by Alex Singleton

Book review: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

Edward Snowden's spy-novel-type book helps readers understand more about government spying
Edward Snowden’s spy-novel-type book helps readers understand more about government spying

The Snowden Files is a good, factual spy book, which makes you think more about data privacy, whatever your current view is.

When we started doing some work with Bitcoin at Endava a few people sent me some interesting article about The Dark Web. Bitcoin and The Dark Web are unfortunately intrinsically linked. The Dark Web is a fascinating subject and I’m working on a more detailed post for future publication. One of the avenues this subject sent me down was online privacy.

I don’t mind that government spy on my electronic communications. I have nothing to hide. I belong to countless social networks and comment on other websites, so I probably have a large digital footprint. I don’t mind that the government can switch my phone on remotely (according to Snowden it’s easier on an iPhone), and listen to the microphone without me knowing – they have more important people to investigate than me. Continue reading Book review: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

Book Review: Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint by Christopher Witt

Wean yourself off the PowerPoint addiction with Witt
Wean yourself off the PowerPoint addiction with Witt

Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint is a great book which will help wean you off PowerPoint and help you to present more effectively.

About a year ago I stopped using PowerPoint during my presentations of the latest Digital Services offering from Endava. I had presented it dozens of times before, and knew the details of the offering. Once I stopped taking my laptop to presentations, colleagues in the room began commenting about the increased passion and asked me to present more, often to a more senior audience. Continue reading Book Review: Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint by Christopher Witt

Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive - motivating your team the Pink way
Drive – motivating your team the Pink way

Drive is a good, practical book on how to motivate people around you, inside and outside of work. I’ve read a few books on the subject, but many focus too hard on organisational structure, or project management. Drive focuses much more on the psychology of motivation. What is it that really drives people to perform well?

Interestingly there is a quote from a review by Malcolm Gladwell on the front cover (of my paperback version), because the book is written in a Gladwell-esque way of theory first, practical second. Like Gladwell, there is a bucket full of examples in the book to help Pink illustrate his key theories. Continue reading Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink