Technology blues

_MG_3262Will the first 20 years of the 21st Century be remembered for some transformational technology. But also remembered as the period when we spent as much time trying to make technology work, as we did celebrating what it did for us?

Additive (3D) printing, self-driving cars, drone imagery, flash trading, gene therapy, high performance computing, voice-activated commands. It’s all awesome stuff. Really. But then, there’s cyber-crime, a different battery charger for every device, short-battery-life devices, fake news going viral, auto-tuning and call menu systems that make you go through twenty levels to lodge a simple technical issue with a real human being.

It may be just perception, but the big technology companies still seem to be making their customers’ lives difficult, as much as trying to introduce the next big thing.

My biggest bugbear (a first world problem granted) is battery chargers. Why can’t technology companies just harmonise the battery sockets so one charger works for all devices, regardless of device generation? How many cables and charges are going to the landfill, just for the sake of ‘progress’?

Any serious technology company isn’t about differentiating anything as dull as its battery plug socket. What gives guys?


Country names

English speakers inventing place names because they find the existing name hard to pronounce isn’t very cool.

What are some other options? One is to use the initials e.g. KL for Kuala Lumpur, USA for United States of America, or LA for Los Angeles. Another, as a mark of respect to the country, is to use the citizen’s pronunciation of their own country. Sure there will be regional accents and dialects, but as long as they are understood (roughly similar), it’s still the better choice. And it flows both ways too. Even then, its still a compromise, since English speakers have created english letters for the place name, to use in place of the local language characters or script.

Some countries change their names entirely e.g. Ceylon to Sri Lanka, or Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. English speakers then think nothing of adopting the new place name as it becomes official. So why not be consistent with other place names too?

Florence, Rome and Venice are Firenze, Roma and Venecia to the locals. I once confused the ticket office clerk at a Firenze train station (probably my Kiwi accent) in asking for a ticket to Venice. He thought I said Vienna! Like the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the locals do!’

Time for a Country name change?



I’m a Kiwi and proud of it. At school I was taught that a dutch explorer called Abel Tasman ‘discovered’ New Zealand and subsequently, the country came to have its name recognised with a dutch place name reference (not even AT’s first choice!).

Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud) is the indigenous people’s (Maori) name for the North Island (extended to cover all the islands of New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands) and its alternative, official name.

Meanwhile, one of the national symbols of the country is the flightless native bird, the kiwi. The rest of the World has come to recognise people from New Zealand as Kiwis, whether; on the sports field, in battle, in business innovation, or in the overseas workplace.

My proposal is that the citizens of New Zealand have a national referendum ASAP, with three choices on the ballot for the future name of the country; Aotearoa, New Zealand and Kiwiland.

If it then came to pass that Kiwiland was overwhelmingly the most popular choice, it would eliminate some confusion for foreigners (tourists and traders alike) and encapsulate biculturalism in the name itself – the Maori ‘Kiwi’ and the English-speaking ‘Land’. New Zealand exporters (tour operators, wine labels, record labels, film makers etc) could also market the kiwi association more strongly. And by eliminating the prefix ‘New’ it would subtly indicate the country has come of age in its own right.

Food for thought?






London Housing Crisis – supply side initiatives



The case for paying school governors

To date, UK schools have relied on the goodwill of volunteer school governors to attend governor meetings and participate in other school activities e.g. staff grievances, student disciplinaries, planning away days and link-governor school visits.

In October 2017, it was reported that schools in Kent alone have a shortage of 564 governor vacancies!   Across South East England, this could be as many as 2,000 governor vacancies or more.

Gone are the days where schools need governors to represent stakeholder groups. Instead they need governors with extensive experience and skills in various professional areas. This allows those governors to provide suitable scrutiny and challenge of school proposals, at the relevant committee meetings.

The problem is, how do you attract and retain part-time governors with the necessary background experience and skills, when all kinds of other organisations also complete to attract non-executive directors, including reimbursing their travel costs and paying a day rate for governance involvement?

Generally in life, you get what you pay for. If people give up their free time and pay their own travel costs to attend governor meetings, then the school can hardly complain about the quality of the governor contributions. Or even complain about a poor meeting attendance record, possibly making some meetings inquorate.

For private schools (funded by tuition fees), if school governors were paid a pro-rata day rate plus travel cost reimbursement, either the school fees would need to cover this cost, or it would be raised through fundraising and lettings activity. For state-funded schools, it’s unlikely that the government will prioritise funding governor fees over core education, so such fees and disbursements would need to be funded from other school sources including; after hours school lettings and annual fundraising events.

Two final points are (1) that introducing a fee and disbursement regime would need to apply to existing and newly recruited governors, in the interests of fairness. And (2) that once some schools start to pay governors fees and disbursements, other schools would need to quickly match these rates, or risk losing governor applicants (and existing governors) to those schools that do pay.  Food for thought?

Wordsmithing in cyberspace

Hop-off, hip-out, hip-op, hip-in, hop-on, hip-hop!


Pub-walking, tipsy-talking, camaraderie-chalking!


Day-grey, sun-ray, clay-way, may-stay, walkers-away, ok-ole!


Toff with cough makes off in drop-top driven by flop-mop.


Park life with the heart life,

Watch charmed life with the chilled life,

And see success mugged by half life.

As haunted life fights with fake life and low life,

So new life fights for this life and right life.




Life insights

Take the windfalls, dodge the pitfalls and don’t chase the waterfalls!

Virtually everyone fails at school. In the sense of failing to see the potential in fellow students and treating them accordingly.

The watch we wear, counts out time for things to happen to us. Our hearts count out time for us to act on the World.

Once upon a time, we used to colonise new lands. Now the Internet of Things colonises our everyday lives.

We see ourselves qualitatively. The Internet of Things sees us quantitatively.

Wouldn’t it be great if each year, they reserved lots of time in UN meetings, to look at which countries of the world that international charities are having to put so much effort into helping. Natural disasters aside, what scrutiny is falling on those countries’ leaders to eliminate corruption, show true leadership and solve the problems their citizens need solving?