There is something about the legacy of the pandemic on the phrase “next slide please” it has almost become a joke during online meetings and presentations. Now as I attend in-person events, people are still making the same joke.
Of course part of the challenge, why this was happening, was the proliferation of online meetings (and events) using Zoom and Teams. Even though it was possible (and some would even say simple) for all the presenters in that meeting to share their slides, often all the slides would be “grouped” together and shared from a single machine. The result was that the person who “shared” the screen would then be the main presenter for all the slides and so any one else presenting would then be “forced” to ask for the “next slide please”.
This was done as it was much easier, especially with multiple presentations, for there to be one presentation. I often saw challenges when different people tried to share their presentations,sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t and sometimes it was just a faff!
So what is the solution?
Of course with tools such as Teams you can easily pass control of the presentation to another person. You can take “control”.
With other tools this may not be possible, or you may not want to allow others to control the presentation, hence the next slide palaver that we see at events and in meetings.
One of my solutions is to not actually use slides when presenting.
I can work anywhere, there we go, enough said, let’s move on.
Well, maybe the question, shouldn’t be can you work anywhere, but how can the environment improve and enhance your work.
There is probably a deeper question about the nature of “work” in there, but I’ll leave that for the moment.
The pandemic has completely changed the concept of the workplace and patterns of working. There has been a lot of press and political rhetoric about people returning to work, though what they mean is much more about returning to the offices where people can work.
Dame Carolyn said the UK’s offices were “vital drivers” of the economy, supporting thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. “The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade.
This tweet echoed my thoughts on that article.
What would you rather have? A better work/life balance or the knowledge you’re keeping Pret open? Unbelievable.
The issue is that the genie is out of the bottle now, both staff and businesses are seeing the potential benefits (and the pitfalls) of working from home. This shift in working patterns will not go away, despite the feeling that the pandemic is “over”. This doesn’t mean that we’re all working from home permanently as we were under lockdown, but it does mean that we’re very likely not to go back to the way things were.
When I visited London in July 2021 and it felt deserted, almost apocalyptic. There was no one around as I went into our London office on that Monday in July. Coffee places were closed and the trains were deserted.
On more recent visits, London does feel quiet on a Monday and a Friday, though pre-pandemic, Fridays were often quieter anyhow. During the middle of the week, London feels very busy and crowded. There are queues for sandwiches and coffee. Having said that, looking into the office windows by our office and on the way into London, we can see many empty desks and meeting rooms.
However what does this all mean for the nature of work. I am reminded that work is something we do, not somewhere we go.
I remember a Twitter discussion, where someone was asking why anyone would work from the office one day and then work from home another. Their thinking was that the nature of their work was similar day to day, so why would you keep changing your location for working? I think this is a fair point, and for some roles where the day to day routine is repetitive then working in the same location can make sense.
For many people, including myself, what we do changes over the day, during the week and over time. Sometimes my work is about reading and making notes, add in there writing. Other times I am facilitating workshops, attending meetings, running meetings, having conversations, and so on. Throw in their online versions of these as well to complicate the mix.
My working pattern vary week to week, so each week I could be doing something different, and sometimes in different parts of the UK.
The pandemic certainly has changed my working patterns and I have a lot more online meetings (and events) in my diary than I did pre-pandemic.
I do like to consider I can work anywhere. I don’t mind if I am at home, in our different offices, at Caffe Nero drinking coffee, on the train, even sitting outside in the sun!
Having said that, the environment in which I work can impact on my productivity and what I do or produce.
I don’t really find having an online meeting sitting at a desk in the office, effective. I much prefer to do those calls in a meeting room where I can shut the door and control the external noise (also means I don’t necessarily need to wear a headset either).
If I have a lot of online meetings, than most times I will work from home, no one to interrupt me, and coffee easily on hand. Of course this changes during the school holidays, when I will more likely commute into the office to avoid disturbing the rest of the household.
When it comes to (online) presentations, a lot depends on where I am. In one of our offices, you can’t turn off the air-conditioning in the meeting rooms and it can be quite noisy, so in those circumstances, I will probably present from home (luckily for me I have decent broadband now). In one of our other offices I can turn off the air-conditioning in the meeting rooms, so have used them for delivering online presentations.
When I need focus, I am much more flexible, I am quite happy to sit at a desk (home or office), though I will sometimes prefer an external location, a place where I can drink coffee.
For mundane administration or processing of e-mail,location becomes even less important. This is the kind of thing I can do on the train, drinking coffee, or waiting for a meeting to start.
If I have a day of online calls and meetings, then I really don’t see the point of commuting to the office and sitting at a desk with a headset, or hiding away in a meeting room.
Though I have participated in many online workshops with tools such as a Miro board, I have to say I am not really a fan. If, given the choice, I would much prefer to meet in-person and run that kind of workshop.
Of course one aspect of “going into the office” which can be difficult to recreate online, is that ad hoc meeting or conversation, the happenstance of someone you need being in the office on the same day you are, chatting with other people, as you make coffee, and so on. I do use tools such as Twitter, Yammer and even Teams for this kind of thing, but it is not the same. For somethings the online is better (think about sharing news and links), for others in-person is better for me.
Reflecting on the changing nature of work does mean that desks, offices and rooms which were ideal for the way we worked in 2019, are now not fit for purpose.
We might want to consider how and where people are working and then reflect on creating effective environments that enhance and enable productive working environments.
This might mean, more social spaces to encourage in-person interaction. Organisations which have a high level of online calls and meetings, might want to consider creating more acoustic spaces for people to do this. Where people do a lot of presentations, a TV studio type space might be the answer.
Of course the patterns of working with people potentially coming into the office for a day a week or a few days in the week, does mean that offices can be quite busy in the middle of the week and much quieter on Mondays and Fridays.
Organisations may want to start thinking about how they will encourage people to come into the offices on those quiet days, what incentives could be in place, so that when people plan their weeks, occupancy of the office can be spread more evenly over the week. This could be travel passes (alas taxable), doughnuts, financial incentives. Or go the other way and use disincentives.
Within my own organisation, decisions are still being made about the future of the offices we have. However it is clear that we won’t be going back to what we had before. Even being a pretty much blended workplace anyhow, the covid-19 pandemic forced a non-office culture on everyone. Of course everyone won’t be able to work from home, and not everyone will want to work from home. Giving people a choice is important.
What I am hoping to see in the future is that office space encourages and enables different ways of working and that rows of desk working staff is not the norm for the future.
Microsoft has retired its web browser Internet Explorer after 27 years
Internet Explorer’s popularity was dented by the launch of faster browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, as users seized on new applications to navigate platforms including Google Search, Facebook and YouTube. The rise of smartphones then arguably delivered the fatal blow, with Apple’s pre-installed Safari browser and Google Chrome on Android phones helping to shift internet access and usage into the mobile realm.
As a Mac user I remember the frustration of web sites being Internet Explorer only, which was compounded when I started using mobile devices.
I do like this animation of web browser usage over the years (you certainly see at one point the dominance of Internet Explorer).
I noticed that photographs I had taken with my iPhone 13 were not being uploaded to My Photo Stream and shared across my other devices.
This was an annoying bug, as I did use this feature a lot, using photographs I had taken on my iPhone and then using them with my Mac.
I did try a temporary fix my changing the camera mode, it was set to High Efficiency, so I switched it to Most Compatible.
However this wasn’t a real fix, as though some photographs were uploaded to My Photo Stream, not all were.
I have now upgraded to iOS 15.5 and though there wasn’t a mention of fixing this bug, I did notice that yesterday all my photographs were uploaded to My Photo Stream, but I was still using Most Compatible mode. This morning I switched to High Efficiency and took a few photographs and allwere uploaded to My Photo Stream.
I do like Waze and I find that it is quite accurate in terms of arrival times, usually provides effective routing and I like the live traffic updates. I remember once it took me on what felt like a weird route out of Reading, but it took just ten minutes, whereas if I had taken the route I would have taken without Waze (as I didn’t know Reading very well) it would have taken at least thirty minutes. Waze took me down quieter less busy road, so I was out of Reading very quickly.
Recently though it got very confused when I was travelling on the M4 westbound and then got caught in a traffic jam between junctions 12 and 13. There had been an accident and the lorry involved had spilled its fuel onto the carriageway. The police then closed the motorway, so that it could be resurfaced and directed traffic off at junction 12. Well too late for me as I was already way pass junction 12 and close to junction 13.
Of course with the motorway closed, Waze was updated and the M4 westbound was shown as a red and white dashed line indicating the road was closed. Of course Waze didn’t realise I was heading westbound and just assumed I was on the other carriageway and heading eastbound. So it was inaccurately telling me to head to junction 12 and come off there.
Well I couldn’t as I was stuck westbound.
Eventually after the police started letting traffic through on the outside lane pass the accident, well the fuel spillage, Waze caught up and worked out I was heading westbound after all.
Today, the experience of taking one’s music library out into the world has been integrated across Apple’s product line — from iPhone and Apple Watch to iPad and Mac.
I never had the first iPod which was announced in 2001.
The first iPod I got was the 4th version that could show photographs. I used it extensively for podcasts as well as music.
As part of a MoLeNET project at the college I was working at we got a range of iPod devices. We also used a range of 3rd edition iPod nano devices.
I used a 6th iPod Classic, on this I could add images and video, as well as music.
Later we got the iPod touch for the project, which was used for much more than music. I used that for apps, videos and web access.
However now I listen to music on my iPhone and through my Alexa devices. Most of the music I also listen to now is through streaming services, rather than download or rip from a CD.
I always liked the iPod and though technology has moved on, it was something for me that was highly innovative for its time. Though the concept of an mp3 player wasn’t innovative, the way that Apple interpreted the concept was innovative.
This week I was presenting at an online conference and though I usually use my iMac in-built microphone, for this event I was using a Microsoft Surface. I was asked if I had an external microphone I could use as the quality wasn’t very good with the in-built microphone. I do have an external Bluetooth headset I sometimes use for calls, but I have found it can be unreliable when I need it most. So I went to the garage and dug out my old external Blue Snowball USB microphone.
It certainly has a retro feel to it’s look and when I say retro I mean 1950s retro. I’ve had it for a fair few years, well over fifteen I think. It was called a Snowball as it was white ball, well over the years the white plastic and discoloured somewhat, so it is now a faded yellowish white colour. However it worked perfectly and the feedback I had was the quality was excellent.
I have managed to resolve an issue having taken photographs with my iPhone that My Photo Stream was not then updating across my devices.
It was in the past week that I noticed that photographs I had taken with my iPhone 13 were not being uploaded to My Photo Stream and shared across my other devices.
I first did the usual trick of going into settings for the Photos app and turning My Photo Stream off and then back on again, however this made no difference.
What was weird was that the photograph I had taken weren’t been uploaded, but the edited versions from Snapseed or Instagram were being added to My Photo Stream.
This photo of the Bristol Harbourside didn’t upload.
This version I edited with Snapseed did.
I checked back through my iPhone camera roll and there was a range of photographs missing from My Photo Stream.
It was working fine on the 16th April, but had stopped updating on the 17th April.
Doing an initial Google search didn’t help, with most references referring to turning My Photo Stream off and back on again, which I knew didn’t work. I powered off the iPhone and back on again, that didn’t resolve the issue either.
My Photo Stream was working fine on other devices. Took a photo with the iPad and it was uploaded to My Photo Stream. On the iPhone if I created an image with Snapseed it was uploaded to My Photo Stream.
That got me thinking that the issue wasn’t with My Photo Stream or the Photos app, but was with the Camera app.
Now doing a Google search I found that others were having a similar issue. It appeared to be related to the 15.4 iOS update.
Going through the settings for the Camera app I checked the formats setting.
Settings > Camera > Formats
To reduce file size, capture photos and videos in the High Efficiency HEIF/HEVC format. Most Compatible will always use JPEG/H.264. Cinematic video, 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps and HDR video require High Efficiency.
This was set to High Efficiency, so I switched to Most Compatible.
As a result the next photograph I took was uploaded to My Photo Stream.
I switched back to High Efficiency and the problem came back. It was apparent that the HEIC images were not being uploaded to My Photo Stream, though they were with iOS 15.3 and earlier.
So for the moment I have a temporary fix, so when I take photographs with the iPhone 13 they will upload to My Photo Stream.