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.

Virtual exhibition: The Jackson Art Open Painting Prize

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The Jackson Open Painting Prize is to recognise excellence in original 2D fine art or drawn media. The competition which excludes art generated through computers, manipulated artwork, 3D works and photos offers an online showcase and prizes for contemporary and traditional visual artists, both established and emerging.

Interestingly, although the competition excludes digital art, the exhibition itself is all hosted online. It also means there are no barriers to international entrants, entries from artists in any countries and of any age are welcomed to the Jackson Art Open Painting Prize.

2016 saw Jackson’s run its inaugural major art prize. The competition (JOAP 2016) saw 300 entries submitted from all over the world, with many of the entrants submitting exceptional and original pieces.

The JOAP awards have a 2 tier selection and judging process, with the Jackson selection panel selecting a long list, then a panel of experts (made of Curators, gallerists and artists)  go on to select a short list and then the winners.

There are 4 category prizes (Watercolour, Acrylic, Oil and Drawing/dry media), each winning the prize of £1000. With an overall first place prize of £5000, 2nd place prize of £500 and £500 worth of Jacksons Art Gift vouchers, and third being the same

For more on the JOAP competition, click on the link: https://www.jacksonsart.com/blog/jacksons-open-painting-prize-2017/

#StandForDiversity and Share your Story

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Over at the New York Times Magazine, ambivalence toward capital “D” diversity courses through Anna Holmes’ excellent essay “Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning?” Holmes, the founding editor of Jezebel and now an executive at Fusion, notes that while corporate odes to “diversity” are de rigeur these days at places like SXSW and fancy media conferences, these lofty pronouncements often deflate back at the office. It’s easy to get execs to say workplace diversity is necessary, and much harder to find examples of success.

A big part of the problem, says Holmes, is that we keep throwing the word around without defining our terms. “Diversity” has great approval numbers, even as it’s kneecapped by its own nebulousness. Holmes quotes a venture capitalist whose company has had some challenges in this arena — accusations of gender-based harassment, an overwhelmingly white workforce — but said he remains “deeply committed to diversity,” right before quipping, “We have two new partners who are so diverse, I have a challenge pronouncing their names.”

The tech industry has come under fire a lot on this issue, but it’s hardly exclusive to Silicon Valley. Television writers rooms are notoriously monochromatic — a March report from the Writer’s Guild of America found that nearly 86 percent of the people working as TV writers were white. That number is even more glaring when you consider that the most dedicated consumers of the medium are black and brown. To move the needle, some networks have tried to pay executive TV producers to hire a “diverse” writer every season.

NPR’s Code Switch is comprised of a team of journalists who study race, ethnicity, and culture, the ways in which they play a role in our lives and communities, and how things are shifting. Lead blogger for the Code Switch team, Gene Demby examines what happens when diversity becomes nothing more than a corporate buzzword in this article on diversity in the workplace.

Three key points we like from ‘Diversity’ Is Rightly Criticized As An Empty Buzzword. So How Can We Make It Work?:

  • Diversity only can be productive when companies put thought into how to invite and control the resistance against accepted norms
  • Companies need to be prepared to deal with a hefty amount of skepticism when working toward creating more diverse workplaces
  • Companies need to support workers they hire when creating a more diverse workforce because they become representatives of diversity and shoulder much of the resistance and push back themselves.

At Ellyot, diversity is one of our core ethos and we’re currently underway with our campaign to #StandForDiversity.

Have you ever been discriminated in your workplace based on your gender, age, race, sexual orientation or anything else that has made you feel not quite right?

We want to hear from you. Head to ellyot.com/diversity to find out more or share your stories on Social Media with #StandForDiversity and call out those employers who have something to answer to!

 

 

Unexpected gastronomical city break in Saskatoon, Canada

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Canada isn’t always thought of as a destination for gastronomical pleasures. The country, also called ‘America Jr’ is best known for polite people, beavers and the exporter of Jim Carey. However, pull back the curtain, and it offers an amazing destination for city break style holidays. One of our top recommendations is Saskatoon. It’s a picturesque riverside city, with a ton to offer.

These ‘prairie provinces’ tend to get a bad rap, however there are little gems inside of Canada, with a vast array of activities to participate in, and these little provinces offer a unique Canadian experience.

Starting off this journey in the Delta Bessborough is probably the best way to start your trip, a hotel that is known as the ‘castle by the river’ and is surrounded by 5 acres of gardens. A central location to downtown Saskatoon, makes all the more appealing, and convenient.

Heading into the city you can find a huge array of innovative restaurants that rivals some of London’s best offerings. Local chefs, brewers and restaurants owners who are passionate about the food they put on the plate, so much so that it’s hard to choose where to eat.

But we here at Ellyot have put together a list of 16 ‘must try’ places to get you started on your Canadian trip of gastronomy.

  1.       Stick & Stones, is a modern Asian inspired restaurant which opened just last year. It offers Korean and Japanese style cuisine and offers an extensive sake list.
  2.      Poached Breakfast Bistro is a great little breakfast joint that offers an array of classic breakfast-brunch dishes to start your day the right way.
  3.       Calories is a chic bakery located in the city, offering a menu that respects the seasons and the environment.
  4.       Odd Couple, another Asian restaurant offers Chinese cuisine, in which the traditional and modern combine.
  5.       Little Grouse on the Prairie, is an authentic Italian restaurant offering prairie based ingredients in a casual and relaxed setting.
  6.       Drift Sidewalk Café – here is a café that offers all types of fare, from a crepe filled with eggs, feta and jalapeno avocado crème fraiche to sandwiches and teas.
  7.       Leyda’s is a whole food and gluten, nut free café with home cooked meals.
  8.       9 Mile Legacy Brewing is a microbrewery combining high quality and unique ingredients to produce an original drinking experience.
  9.       The Hollows offers contemporary food focused on the seasons, with local ingredients which are all sustainable. It’s a ‘quirky’ and ‘comfortable’ restaurant  and a must try.
  10.   Baba’s Homestyle Perogies is the best place to try authentic Ukrainian food. (Perogies are a type of dumpling made with unleavened dough).
  11.   Ayden Kitchen & Bar is the perfect place to try globally inspired food with amazing hand-crafted cocktails in a relaxed setting. It’s the perfect mix of comfort and warmth with every experience.
  12.   Park Café & Diner is a local greasy spoon, with home cooked comfort foods like French toast, hash browns and bacon and other diner classics, served in a retro 1950’s setting.
  13.   The Night Oven Bakery is the local bakery that crafts all their bread by hand. With a mill and brick oven, this place offers some of the best breads, pastries, scones and cakes in the city.
  14.   The Local Kitchen is a collaborative kitchen that brings participants together to cooks and create dishes. It provides the perfect place to learn some lessons from some of the top chefs in Saskatoon.
  15.   Lucky Bastard creates traditional spirits, with a large mix of artistic spirits, liqueurs and bitters.
  16.   Primal aims to provide Italian food and handmade pastas using local ingredients to create an innovative menu with dishes like fried bread, elk carpaccio with pickled walnuts and a popular dish of marrow bone luge.

Saskatoon is a city for real foodies, as you can see, but this list is just a fraction of the amazing eateries and artisan venues that the Canadian prairie has to offer!


For more tips on must have dishes at the restaurants, click on the link: https://www.lavenderandlovage.com/2017/08/savour-city-break-saskatoon-canada.html

Could you be the next European Design Awards winner?

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The EDA (European Design Awards), which has been running for 10 years, has begun to attract entries from over 34 countries now. The awards ceremony annually awards European designers for outstanding work in the design and communications space.

Last year saw Porto, a city which has had a flourishing graphic design culture for many years, and has survived a lot of political and economic upheaval since 2008. The city contains outstanding design schools like Esad, which also seen high calibre lecturers like Joost Grootens make appearance there. Along with this, Porto also has several medium-sized practices, including R2 a studio specialising in ‘graphic identity, editorial and environmental design’ and also Studio Andrew Howard another graphic design studio, all of which work across a variety of sectors.

From a design point of view, Porto contains many beautiful buildings making it the perfect venue for the EDA. Examples of this are the Porto cathedral, which dates back to 1146, the Edificio Vodafone and even the city hall, among many other classic and modern buildings that populate the city.

Back to the EDA, the gold award winners included a fish paste packaging designed by ‘Bedow’, a Swedish studio, ‘Creature of Habit’ by Netherlands based, ‘Ambassadors’ and the ‘Wales Nation Brand: Cymru Wales Sans’ by UK based ‘Smorgasbord’.

Attendees also saw the first sight of a new exhibition named ‘Design by Porto, Porto by Design’ which officially opened later in May 2017.

The exhibit featured 40 projects by 28 different students made for the City council in Porto over a span of four years. Collaborators on the project included R2, White Studio and Esad, along with many other graphic design studios.

To read more about the exhibition and the European design awards, check out: http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/porto-reporto

10 ways to help Aleppo, Syria

Wright-Syria3Nearly every day we have seen the horrific pictures that come out of Aleppo, the besieged second city of war-torn Syria. Life has been tough for the inhabitants of the city, with the threat of shelling and atrocities committed by all sides of the civil war.


Below are 10 different charities, who are all doing amazing work to help alleviate some of the suffering that the people of Aleppo have been suffering. They all help to provide clothing, medicine food and shelter to the displaced in the city.


1)    British Red Cross: Teams are providing medical care and emergency services to help transport emergency cases to specialised facilities to get treatment.


2)    The White Helmets: This is a civil defence force that are known due to their distinctive white hats. They are a volunteer group who rescue people from destroyed buildings. Money donated to them will help pay for medical care for injured volunteers as well as supporting families of members who were KIA.


3)    Medecins sans Frontiers: MSF are helping to support 8 hospitals in the city, and are supporting more than 150 health centres across Syria, many in active war zone areas. While MSF can no longer access Aleppo they are still helping to support people.


4)    Preemptive Love Coalition: This a non-profit that tries to address the needs of displaced people, by giving them medical share, food and shelter etc. They’re already helping to feed more than 20,000 people just outside of Aleppo.


5)    Syria Relief: Here is another charity that is providing medical aid and mental health care to treat people who have been living in the war zone and have seen both physical and mental trauma.


6)    International Rescue Committee: IRC has been providing emergency relief and aid to the people of Aleppo since 2012. They support mobile clinics and give children education, amongst other things.


7)    Hand in Hand for Syria: This charity rakes aid to the people living under threat, and they also provide food, clothing along with medical aid too.


8)    Karam Foundation: This is a non-profit organisation that runs development projects and distributes aid within the city. They are currently providing emergency relief for schools inside Syria and supporting refugees who leave.


9)    Islamic Relief: IF has been working on the ground since the conflict began, and have helped more than 3 million people. They provide winter kits which help families survive the cold months.


10)    The Syrian American Med
ical Society: SAMS has already treated over 2.5 million people and are providing medical treatments for people in Syria and refugees in surrounding countries.


For more on how you can help and links to any of these great organisation, click here.

Trump Tech meeting

161214150919-trump-tech-summit-meeting-group-780x439When Trump was on his way to his inauguration, he decided to make have audience with some of the biggest tech firms in the world. At the table was Trump, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Tim Cook (Apple) and Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity) amongst many other leviathans.

And for many this was actually a good thing, having more stable entrepreneurs and innovators looking to influence him; because anything that moves him away from his normal behaviour and ‘Trump-isms’ would be seen as a great thing.

Secondly having leaders interested in ways to improve the country and seeking answers to solve problems, can only help the situation and with the fact that Trump is seemingly influenced by everyone in close proximity, having these tech CEO’s would be a great way to influence policy for the better.

However, today’s article pointed out just one small problem that Trumps meeting with these leaders had…..20% of the attendees in that meeting were Trumps! Most countries in the world have problems with nepotism though Trump who is unlike most sound leaders, decided that having his family in the meeting was the way forward.

For a man who defied all expectations and even what is regarded as proper presidential behaviour, he still hasn’t found a way to separate himself from his business interests, and with his children in the meeting, it only goes to prove that Trump is about as fit to run the country as his to be trusted with a mobile phone.

Along with this, the new president, who can’t resist tweeting, decided to bully companies like Boeing and Carrier, once again helping everyone see how presidential he was and sadly still is.

The remaining 3 years are going to be fun!

If you still want more on Trump and the meeting, you can read more here

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Humbly Accepts Razzie Award

therockWith all the hype surrounding the Awards season, it’s easy to forget that there has been a slew of awful films that were released over 2017. One that got a lot of the critic’s hate was the Baywatch film starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  The summer movie which also co-starred Zac Efron and Priyanka Chopra, was seen as a pointless reboot of the late 90’s franchise; as mentioned critics completely panned the film, which led Dwayne Johnson to rant about how critics had got Baywatch wrong, and that fans, in fact, loved the film!

It turns out that he may have been onto something when he said that. Baywatch recently was awarded a Razzie in its own, new category called “So Rotten You Loved It,” and the film beat out the likes of the Mummy, The Emoji Movie, and Fifty Shades Darker to the top spot.

Graciously ‘The Rock’ accepted the award, thanking both the fans and critics in his “acceptance speech” which he posted on Instagram. He even went so far as to describe the category of his film as “the shit sandwich you have been eating is so bad that you eventually started to like it.

Other winners on the night included The Emoji Movie (Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst screen combo and Worst screenplay), The Mummy (worst actor), Daddy’s Home 2 (worst supporting actor) and Fifty Shades Darker (Worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel).

For more on the awards and Dwayne Johnson’s acceptance speech, check out: http://www.ladbible.com/entertainment/celebrity-film-and-tv-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-humbly-accepts-razzie-award-for-baywatch-20180305