Voice Control in China

Over the last few days in Beijing I’ve noticed a considerable number of people using voice control as a primary input, something you rarely see back in the UK.

It appears to me that this is for two reasons:

1. There is less of a social stigma attached to using new technology. Walking through a train station holding a tablet to your eyes while watching a film is perfectly common and fine. In fact my friend Tom and I spotted a guy doing just that, while using his Google Glass.

2. Voice can be a faster method of input than typing, particularly when you consider the huge number of characters there are in Mandarin. Listening to voice messages (out loud) was fairly common as was using voice to tell the Beijing version of Addison Lee where you wanted picking.

This later trend reminded me a lot of seeing my sister use voice to search YouTube. She found it faster, and hadn’t grown up feeling like people might laugh at her for using it. What’s more, as she told me once, sometimes it’s better “when you don’t know how to spell the words..”

I managed to photo bomb (unintentionally) a Help for Heroes PR snap at the British London 10km a few weeks back. Can you spot me?
It was a good event, not one for running a good time unless you managed to set off in the first wave as there was around 15,000 participants, but a great atmosphere and route.
I ran 41:07 and was reasonably pleased. Came 153rd overall.

I managed to photo bomb (unintentionally) a Help for Heroes PR snap at the British London 10km a few weeks back. Can you spot me?

It was a good event, not one for running a good time unless you managed to set off in the first wave as there was around 15,000 participants, but a great atmosphere and route.

I ran 41:07 and was reasonably pleased. Came 153rd overall.

Donating to the Mayday Super PAC

Today I donated $500 to Mayday.us a Political Action Committee setup in a country where I am not a citizen, to change elections that I cannot vote in. But US campaign finance reform is an issue that we should all take note of, not just those who hold a US passport. As long as America remains the most powerful nation on earth so too will her politics all off us.

And nothing corrupts US politics as much as money.

In Lesterland, his swift deconstruction of American campaign financing, Lawrence Lessig (founder of the Mayday PAC) explains how money, routed through Political Action Committees and provided by the tiniest slither of the population (1% of the 1%) corrupts a Presidential race; removing any candidate who will not advance their views and giving the electorate just two muddied candidates to chose from the in the general election.

Mayday PAC aims to create a Political Action Committee to end all Political Action Committees. To fund candidates who will repeal Citizens United (the case that gave rise to the PACs) and engage in real debate about campaign financing reform.

Read about it, speak to your American friends, and if you can, donate.

Whether you’re US citizen, or not.

Picfair raises $500k      

One of my best friends, and all round nice guy, Benji Lanyado has secured over $500k in funding to help his burgeoning photo marketplace take on the establishment.

He’s raised money from a bunch of well know investors including Alexis Ohanian of Reddit fame, Tom Hulme of IDEO and the gang from VoucherCodes.co.uk including yours truly.

Onward!

May Running

May has been been a good month for running, here’s the break down.

Ran a total of 127km including 71km in the last 14 days of the month. I came 16th in the Finsbury Park 10km with a time of 41.03 and improved my half marathon time to 1.36.29.

Unfortunately I’ve got to pull out of the Hackney Half due to some family commitments, but I’m going to try and break the 1.30.00 mark in some training runs to compensate.

I’m on Strava if you’re interested.

Broken Britain

There was a sombre mood at the talks I attended at Hay Festival this year. Not because of the rain or the failed digital strategy, but because of a palpable sense of fracture within the British electorate. A sense that an already small island was dividing itself further still.

The ascendency of UKIP, the chance of an independent Scotland, the chance too of an independent Wales. The earnings divide between the south-east and the rest of the country, the chance of a no vote in Europe, of tighter boarder control. An ineffective ‘Better Together’ campaign and an even more confusing pro EU one.

Fast forward to 2017 and what do you see? An isolated, middle order nation who struggles to get on with itself, let alone the rest of the world.

I found myself wondering why no one could tell us what it means to be British. What were the things that make our union worth defending. Maybe we’ll find out more in the coming general election? I think it’s unlikely…