Abdication of Responsibility: the new consumer refrain

by Matt Johnston on September 24, 2014

The picture above was from the one time that I put my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 into my back pocket and sat on it. I’ll be the first to admit that I maybe need to lay off the pies a little but the break happened very easily and while the function of the device isn’t altered, the aesthetics are.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is thicker than the iPhone 6 Plus. And I also had a case on it that protected the front and the back.

I think the problem comes from people who have been used to proportionally thicker devices with a reduced fulcrum effect due to the small size of the handsets. More worrying however is the bleating from people who, while they may not have had a “big” phone before, refused to accept any responsibility for breaking their new phone. There’s a type of person who will always lie about computer problems. No, they didn’t spill milk or orange juice on their expensive laptop, it’s always smelled that way. No, they didn’t smoke beside their computer and cause it to be encrusted with smoke dust. No, they didn’t delete that file, it just happened. And the latest, the 7 mm thick phone should have been able to take the full force of my fat arse.

I’m to blame for breaking the screen of my NOTE 3. I accept the blame.


The Importance of Clustering and How To Do It

by Matt Johnston on September 22, 2014

Earlier this year I got an invite to a reception at Buckingham Palace as part of the UK Tech Clusters. The discussions around clustering tend to range from the aspirational (let’s working together to teach everyone in the country how to code) to very practical (if we have shared workspaces as part of our remit, why not provide passes to each other). But there needs to be more than this.

I am never a fan of intervention where it is unneeded but I am a fan of creating contrivances which lead to repeated behaviours. Digital Circle has never had the resource to create these contrivances but I think that economic development responsibilities (which lie primarily with DETI, InvestNI and the new SuperCouncils but also, in line with the programme for government, with every government department, agency and ALB), are something that needs intervention in order to be habit-forming.

Interventions do not need to be large but they need to be repeated.

But why are these things important?

The first thing that I would say is that it starts to create economies of scale. The more people sign up to your focused programmes, the more benefits they will bring. No-one likes to present to an almost empty room. Your indigenous SMEs will need people to talk to.

You also start to create networks of scale. This means the companies in the area start to lean on each other for work, for shared projects, for new bids for work. You have to build your indigenous companies until they are something to talk about.

Lastly you start to build reputation of scale. It’s easy to say that the Game of Thrones television series has brought attention to Northern Ireland but equally The Shore, Good Vibrations and The Fall have, perhaps to a lesser extent, created buzz. And this is why foreign direct investment companies are then attracted – they come for the work but through hiring and acqui-hiring, they gain a foothold and an investment in the region.

I was at DETI today and the topic of NORTEL came up. When NORTEL failed, it was at the height (or, depending on your perspective, the lows) of the Internet bubble bursting. But it had been a shrewd investment in retrospect as it ushered in a new software industry in Northern Ireland which led to new start-ups in cyber security, in mobile apps, in fin-tech and in health technology. It was a genuinely excellent investment as these start-ups are all indigenous and sometimes (like Wombat and NYSE Euronext) they lead to something bigger. (Thanks to Eoin McFadden in the Innovation Policy unit for the intelligence and foresight as well as the coffee!)

We’re busy using the power of our clusters to educate kids in coding and design, in 3D modelling and creating interactive experiences because we see that as being the future for a small-population knowledge economy. The difficulty in standing and competing on a global stage can be defeated with smart working, with market trend analysis and with working together to create something bigger.

That’s what clusters are for.


“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
- Benjamin Franklin

What percentage of No was about pensions and safety and what percentage was about the Union.

It took 16 hours for Westminster to renege on their promises. Now we hear more about the English Parliament than we do about the rest of us. We will be content with more powers over less. The wealth hoarded in Westminster will be spent less outside England. We will pay tribute and receive less. This is the wage of a failed revolution.

Here, in the North of Ireland, we are beset with the most mediocre of leaders. Even today they run confused, barely comprehending that in two years an idea rose from nothing to 45% of the population. This is something that NONE of our parties have managed to achieve.

The last time Northern Ireland rose like this was our last referendum when we spoke as one nation and 71% of us voted for peace. We got the peace and we received no more. Sixteen years later and we have wasted our advantage, spent the currency of our souls on flags and emblems and blame.

Earlier this year I cast my lot in with a band of hopefuls. And though we barely moved the needle, I would do it again. It may not have been the right time or the place or even the right vehicle, it it still spoke to me. But my generation is tired of the flags and the emblems and the blame. I’m moved to tears by the Yes campaign in Scotland. They tried, they gave it their all.

Did we even try?


When things matter, with simple, clear-cut choices, people show up to vote.

September 19, 2014

Referendum Turnout Margin Scottish Referendum 85% 55% / 45% Good Friday Agreement (North) 81% 71% / 29% Good Friday Agreement (South) 56% 94% / 6% NI European Elections 2014 51% NA UK General Elections 2010 65% NA NI Assembly Elections 2011 54% NA When things matter, with simple, clear-cut choices, people show up to vote.

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Windows is shit. Sorry.

September 17, 2014

I got home to a Windows problem. Every time my wife tried to print something from a app she uses for college on her HP laptop, it would throw up an Office Error. Somehow Office had taken over the entire printing process. She tried to launch Office 365, it would complain there was an error. [...]

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Who Watches The Apple Watch Men?

September 17, 2014

My wife is fabulous. She gave me some insights on the Apple Watch that I’d not thought of. Women will not be happy with one-size fits all. Not happy at all. While I have a Pebble sitting in a drawer out of charge, she has eleven watches including a series of six Michael Kors in [...]

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Selling three bits of kit…

September 13, 2014

The first is a Mac Pro (Early 2008) with 12 GB RAM and a Quad Core Xeon 5400 at 2.8 GHz. I’m not selling disks with it because you’d be wanting to put a SSD in there anyway. Bluetooth keyboard and mouse are available but I’d rather not part with them, so they’re extra. The [...]

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NOCT: Now on Kickstarter, beautifully done.

September 10, 2014

Depicted through the eerie glare of a thermal imaging satellite, the game will have you hunt weapons and items while fending off the bug-like horrors that await. (Link to Kickstarter) It’s a fabulous idea and one that is worth repeating. In fact, it really reminds me of Zombie Gunship, depicted below:

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September 7, 2014

This is best viewed with headphones. The eruption of Mount Tavurvur volcano on August 29th, 2014. Captured by Phil McNamara. The boat was about 2.3 miles away from the volcano. Great illustration of the speed of light, the speed of sound. the low pressure created by a shockwave..

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September 6, 2014

The Sequel to… Awesome.

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