#NationalPuppyDay

charles-deluvio-550068-unsplashThere is never a time when sharing cute pictures of puppies could be bad, cute images of dogs in costumes or just being dogs is something no person can resist. However, on the 23rd March, you can justify searching, sharing or taking pictures of puppies because its #NationalPuppyDay.

Started as a way to raise awareness and promote the adoption of dogs, it has now blossomed into a fully-fledged puppy appreciation day, with the hashtag trending on twitter. If you’re keen to celebrate this holiday you could choose from 50 ideas that the founder came up with (like raising money for a local shelter or volunteering to take the shelter puppies for a walk), or you could simply share a picture of your puppy with the hashtag.

Read more here.

 

Black Mirror: Can Bots Help Us Deal with Grief?

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If you ever had the chance to watch Black Mirror, you’d know that the premise of this Netflix original series is to showcase the wonders and dangers of Technology.

In the real world, people are experimenting with griefbotsMuhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad, principal data scientist at KenSci, is often the center of attention when the topic of griefbots comes up.

He created a chat-style program that allows him to have conversations with a simulation of his father, who passed away a few years ago.

Muhammad’s experiences bring into stark relief the pain that loss can bring, and he has publicly taken up the cause of trying to spark conversations about the benefits and dilemmas involved with creating simulations of the deceased. Read Muhammad’s reflections in “How the Dearly Departed Could Come Back to Life — Digitally” and “After Death: Big Data and the Promise of Resurrection by Proxy.”

(Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad (Sonu) chatting with a simulation of his father, Abu Jani.)

It’s hard not to be moved by the exchange between Abu Jani (which means “dear father” in Urdu) and Sonu (one of Muhammad’s nicknames). The dadbot does what dads do best: remind their kids to take care of themselves.

The question posed here is really, how far is too far? And does a griefbot truly help us cope with loss or does it hold us back from moving on?

We’ll love to hear your thoughts.

Rick and Morty fans rejoice, with new release of Szechuan sauce

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So it turns out that the long-heralded McDonalds Szechuan sauce, the sauce which caused a million Rick and Morty fans to go into Meltdown is finally re-released. The sauce craze got saw  bidding wars, riots, and petitions to help bring back the sauce.

On Monday, McDonald locations across the USA began serving them again, however this time the fast-food chain didn’t take any risks, distributing 20 million sauce packs across the USA in order to make sure there wouldn’t be the scenes of riots with Rick and Morty fans fighting each other to get their hands on it.

It’s fair to say that the hype surrounding the sauce was astronomical and to live up to it would be tough, especially considering police had been called previously to stop the fighting along with ludicrously high prices paid at auctions for the sauce- it was reported that the DJ, deadmau5 spent around $15,000 on a jug of Szechuan sauce.  

Along came Mondays launch date and finally the verdict on the taste test was out: It’s good, but not great- think a classic Chinese restaurant-style sweet and sour sauce with some soy and sesame and you get the idea.

So, sadly for the Rick and Morty fans who spent time going crazy over the sauce, it turns out that hyped up sauce is really, “meh”.

For more on the Szechuan sauce check out this article from BI

 

Google releases new app to aid remote working

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Google recently released their new messaging platform called “Google Hangouts Chat” which allows better collaboration between organization members.
Hangout chats support team chat rooms, threaded conversations and sophisticated searches that allow companies to manage their projects from one place.

Chat can be used to speed up the small tasks that can bog down a team working from different locations, such as searching for files or even things like booking conference rooms (amongst other very routine tasks). This is integrated into the G-suites productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, Drive, and Hangouts, all of which are great apps that can help remote working teams or individuals (such as those who use Ellyot) to collaborate effectively and achieve their goals!

These apps, including the new Hangout Chat, are great ways to keep productivity high when working remotely as they can allow for effective communication and help a team work in sync so that everyone is on the same page and can work together effectively.

You can check out more about the new Google Hangout Chats feature here.

 

 

6 more remote working tools to boost your productivity

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A couple months ago we talked about some quick fixes to improve your productivity when working remotely.

We listened to your feedback and we’re delighted that you all found it super useful. So we’re back with 6 more recommendations of top tools to use…

I done this is a great productivity tool that helps you track progress over the day. It allows remote teams to work together in sync and know who’s accomplished what and where the team stands in getting towards their objectives. The tool gives you daily status updates, it lets you see what’s been done and what tasks your team can’t do (and why). If you are managing a team who are dispersed to various locations, this is one way to synthesise each member’s progress and keep everyone accountable and on track.

Hackpad is a collaboration tool by the creators of Dropbox- it allows you and your team to collaborate on text documents in real time, meaning you can create documents on the fly with your team, without the hassle of having to meet up and conduct multiple emails and phone calls to create one document. Think of Hackpad as your way to work together to create things seamlessly.  

Developed by Apple itself, Take a break please helps tackle the stresses of everyday life by helping us with our well-being. Sitting and working at your computer or laptop isn’t great for your eyes or back, or health in general and it’s recommended that you take short breaks every hour or so to give yourself some time to relax your eyes and give your lower back a rest. Not only is this app good for your physical health, it’s great for your mind- taking a break gives you the chance to step back from your work and take the time to look at things from a new angle. Some of the benefits include giving you increased mental ability and increased information retention.

Zoom is a communications tool. Similar to Google Hangouts but with a higher threshold limit for attendees, which means you can get more people in your meetings and get everyone up to speed quicker.

CodePen is a design and development tool where you can write up your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code to share with remote team members and get them to review your code to give feedback in real time; it can be used to build your code with the team and test it too, again, all in real time. It is also a brilliant place to find some inspiration, at its heart it is a social development environment, helping the developers in your team collaborate as part of a larger community all working together to actively help each other test bugs, develop code and get on the right track to help you build your next great project.

Doodle, is a way to get your team together without having to call them individually, simply put Doodle is a poll that allows you to select a date or location to send to participants and get them to vote on their preferences. Think of doodle as your friend when it comes to collectively trying to organize anything with your team; this is a wonderful tool for those days working away from the office when you want a simple way to quickly get everyone’s answer to a question.

We’ve used these 6 tools to help us collaborate with our team, all of whom live and breathe the Ellyot ethos of working where you want when you want and how you want.

With our team dispersed between working in an art gallery, another working in a café and the third working from a co-working desk yesterday, these 6 tools (especially Doodle and I done this) gave us the opportunity to get in sync with each other, even though we were working in opposite ends of London.

Be sure to download Ellyot and along with these tools, you can crush your to-do list and be the most productive and efficient worker you can be.

 

French Nutella riot

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Nutella – a gorgeous mix of hazelnuts, chocolate and milk; probably one of the most loved chocolate items on the planet and a favourite whether it’s mixed into milkshakes,  spread on pancakes or eaten by the spoonful.

It’s safe to say that people love the stuff and apparently in France, they are willing to riot and maim each other for it.

A flash sale of Nutella saw “Black Friday” style fighting and brawling within the aisles of Intermarche’ supermarkets across France, when they reduced the price from £3.90 to £1.20. In fact, one employee of the store was reported to have received a black eye in the mosh pit of customers.

It seems the French really do love the stuff as other reports claimed that, “A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, [sic] another had a bloody hand.” It seems that things got so bad, that police had to be involved with “Nutella rationing” occurring in some stores, limiting customers to 3 jars a person.

In some stores, 700 jars of the stuff were sold in 45 minutes, with the sale going back on over the weekend, although it may help France to take page out of England’s book and form some ques, the perfect way to stop the Nutella madness.

As Nutella’s official twitter, tweeted: “Keep Calm, World Nutella day is coming,” February 5th!

To check out the videos of the fighting madness: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/nutella-70-discount-prompts-riots-across-france_uk_5a6aeeb2e4b06e25326655d7?1gr&utm_hp_ref=uk-homepage

The Pretty Reckless at the O2. From scepticism to sell outs

The pretty reckless (TPR) started in 2009, led by former Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen. “Raspy vocals that sound like she smokes a pack a day,” are ways to describe her unique voice, along with a rebellious, rock and roll on-stage presence.

Her bandmates, who are often overlooked are just as talented as the leading lady of the group and as a unit are quite possibly, one of the most exciting live bands you can see!

Part of the UK tour, the band performed at the O2 Forum in Kentish town, which meant that it would be one hell of a gig.

The night’s setlist was a mix of their newer and earlier material with tracks like ‘My Medicine’ and ‘living in the storm’ all being well received.

15 songs were sung all in all and with the final song (‘Take me down’), the crowd demanded an encore, chanting and clapping till TPR satiated the crowd, with a rendition of ‘Fucked up world’. With an impressive drum solo by Jamie Perkins, the TPR knew how to put on a show- with an adrenaline rush that screamed of rock.

For more on the night check out: http://mosh.hitthefloor.com/reviews/the-pretty-reckless-captivated-a-sold-out-o2-forum-live-review/

 

 

Alexa, help me work more efficiently…

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Alexa, what’s my schedule like for today? Alexa set a reminder for my 1800 meeting. Alexa, get me a promotion….?

Get used to saying Alexa a lot more in the future as Amazon recently launched their Alexa for business AI assistant. With the likes of Google and Microsoft hot on their heels, it’s safe to say that AI voice assistants may well be coming to an office near you.

AI is already revolutionizing the way we live and it’s even begun to creep into our workplace, even though this worries so many people – there is a silver lining. It is an effective management tool, with time a precious commodity, we can utilize systems like Alexa to do the jobs that waste small chunks of time, leaving us to contemplate bigger and better things. Think about all the times you waste looking for emails or trying to find a certain file,  Alexa can do that an instant, leaving you time to get on with the actual task at hand.

AI has a huge learning potential and it can use this to learn our habits and create a schedule around them; it can even profile us to help understand our strengths, weakness and create a statistical card, allowing us to manage people with ease. Now a manager can pick the right tasks for the people and the right mix of people in a team for a project, all using data which has been pooled and categorized by AI assistants.

These voice assistants can even help with clients and suppliers, meaning you can have an AI like Alexa to help research clients well in advance of meetings, allowing you to track their activities and see their likes and dislikes (are they people who just want the numbers, or prefer some creativity in a pitch), all of which can help allow workers to become more successful.

With all the upside, what are the downsides of integrating an AI assistant into your offices? For one, voice assistants work best when you say straight orders, barely recognizing the word please and thank you, which could lead to some bruised feelings when you interact with your co-workers in the same way.

The second problem with AI assistants is that no machine currently understands nuance, so words like urgent could be misinterpreted and in the process, you end up with the wrong tasks at the wrong time.

Privacy is a huge concern when utilizing AI within your company and using AI will need clear rules on how far you rummage into someone’s details. In this regard, AI can be dangerous and if used wrongly, it could be devastating both to personnel and to the company that employs it, however, if this process is regulated and clear boundaries defined, you can go some way to diminishing this problem.

Tools like Alexa and Google home are there for us to use, AI is a tool and it shouldn’t be feared, but used to help us humans spend more time on the big problems, allowing us to engage in problems that require our fullest attention. AI helps give us back our time and allows to us ponder because no matter what AI can do, it can’t replace human intuition in creating the next big idea.

For more on how Alexa can be used in the workplace click here.

Top 14 things to see & do in Seoul, South Korea

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The capital of South Korea, Seoul, has a fantastic mix of old and new, with great food and amazing sights across the city. The capital has a great many things to do, and today we take a look 14 great places to visit and see in Seoul.

1) Korea Furniture Museum: a bit of an unusual attraction to start, but this museum has over 2000 pieces of traditional furniture, which help you get a real sense of a traditional Korean lifestyle and culture. It’s a great way to spend some time looking at the Korea of old.

2) Insadong: This is a great insight into South Korean culture. The district is home to lots of shops, teahouses and market style booths. Along with this, is many great art galleries and restaurants, a place perfect to eat and drink to your hearts content, and pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

3) Bongeunsa: The temple of Gangnam is a calm place, right in the heart of the city; offering a beautiful and contrasting view between the traditional houses and the modern skyscrapers.

4) Gyeongbokgung Palace (GP): GP is the largest grand palace in Seoul and a must see. It’s a huge complex, and it’s a great idea to leave a few hours to explore the palace properly. Picturesque gardens surround the palace, intricate designs adorn it, and if you wear traditional Korean clothing, you get free entry.

5) Eating in the city: Korean food has seen a recent rise, so in typical fashion, eating in the city is a must do. The best thing to do is to wing it, that means walk around town and eat at wherever takes your fancy. The more locals you see at the restaurant, the better!

6) Jogyesa Temple: Amongst the skyscrapers in the city is this little Buddhist temple. Filled with artwork, statues and figurines, the temple is a spot of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.

7) Myeongdong: This is known as one of the best streets for shopping in Seoul. It’s a great spot for souvenir shopping and it’s a fantastic place to wonder with an open mind and wallet!

8) N Seoul Tower: If you want an aerial view of the city, then the N Seoul tower is where you want to go. Watching the city transform from the day into night is an amazing view, and one we definitely recommend. Book your spot before sunset to capture the transformation of the city!

9) Bukchon Hanok Village: BH Village is a traditional Korean village, and the perfect way to step back in time to a Korea centuries ago. You can look in the houses and pop into tea houses for traditional rice tea. There’s also a lot of cool shops in the area, and taking the time to weave in and out of the stores and houses is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the city.

10) Changdeokgung Palace: The palace is a real must see in Seoul due to its history and heritage; so much so, that it’s been declared a UNESCO world heritage site, with elements dating back from the three kingdoms period (57BC to 668AD). When visiting, be sure to check out Huwon, the secret garden. This can only be seen via a tour that is pre-booked, but do leave plenty of time to explore the beautiful secret gardens after you visit the palace.

11) Hangang Park: Located by the banks of the Hangang River, the park has open pathways for visitors to bike along or simply stroll through. If you want a change of pace, or a spot to relax, Hangang Park is the place to head to.

12) Deoksugung Palace: Here is another one of the five grand palaces, and this was home to the Korean royal family until the colonisation of the country by the Japanese Empire. While a smaller palace than the others, Deoksugung Palace is open later than other palaces, and is worth an evening visit.

13) Hangang River: The River is lovely from its banks, and the best way to experience the river is via a boat cruise.

14) Everland: This is the largest theme park in Korea, it’s also one of the most visited in the world. However, don’t let the crowds deter you as Everland is a great way to spend a day in Seoul.

As you can see, Seoul offers so much to do and yet our list only scratches the surface of this modern, yet ancient city. The capital is a diverse place to visit, where a clash of old and new come together to create a uniquely Korean city, where skyscrapers neighbour Hanoks, and business suits mingle with traditional Hanboks.

To read more on what to do in Seoul, click here!

Apple Goes Back to School

Apple has gone back to school with their new iPad that looks to utilize features that make it kid-friendly, in order to fight off strong competition from Google Chromebook.
The new iPad will feature a 9.7 inch iPad with a pencil/stylus support and it will offer 200GB of free iCloud storage for people using it within the schooling system.

While your average consumer will pay $329 for the new tablet, schools will get it for $299 and a $10 discount on the very pricey stylus (which costs $99).
This launch comes just one day after Google launched their new Chromebook Tab 10, which costs $329 and has an integrated stylus. The Chromebooks have recently found huge success within the USA education system as the company has marketed the educators with cloud software that is easy to use.

Alongside this, Apple showed off their new software upgrades which included an augmented reality app and a free app that will take on Googles “classroom platform”, called “Schoolwork”- which is designed to allow teachers to hand out homework to students and to track to their work online.

The iPad is available in 25 countries and goes on sale this week!

For more about the Apple product event, read on here.