Future Gazing at the Gadget Show Live

OK a bit off topic but I had so much fun I wanted to share… 😉

Last weekend I dragged my husband over to Birmingham NEC for the Gadget Show Live. Despite his initial protests we had a great day, and it wasn’t just because the kids were at their grandparents!

Although quite a lot of the show centred round fast cars, music making hardware and gaming (all good fun but not really my bag) there were was something for everyone. We really enjoyed the gadget show hall of fame and offerings from the Centre for computing history. Lots of really old stuff, a few pieces from our youth (speak & spell, spectrum 48k, Yamaha keyboards) and a couple of the gadgets on show we still have at home (various nokia phones, hifi equipment). The robochallenge was great and there were quite a few stands demonstrating future transport, some of the electric bikes were pretty good. Although I’d been told that 3D TV is where it’s at personally I can’t see what all the fuss is about. As my husband said “if you don’t have to wear glasses why would you ever choose to wear them” (he wears glasses, I don’t).

I went to a very interesting session in the Future Home Theatre on Cloud content: using the Internet to get your music, films and TV. The speaker, from CEDIA, pointed out some new trends in the way we get our hands on content. Some interesting sites to watch out for include Rhapsody (a music download site), Zattoo (an online TV site), a boxee (a home theatre programme) and Dropbox (a file hosting and synching service – I really will have to download it and give it a try out). The new Disney Key chest model was also mentioned. This is a technology that allows users to ‘own’ any version of a film they choose.

“With this technology the word ownership gets an entirely new meaning as it stands for right to access rather than possess. The consumers need to make one-time payment to access a movie or TV show from the internet which can be played on iPhones or cable services that have on demand movie viewing and it would also support online movie subscriptions.”

I was really good and only made one purchase all day. A few weeks back (in an effort to combat my midlife crisis!) I enthusiastically booked a ticket to a music festival. A few of my friends are going and it seemed a great way to get away for the weekend. It took a few weeks but finally it dawned on me that it’s my son’s third birthday slap bang in the middle of the festival dates! Although I’m sure my little boy won’t be able to remember me being absent on his big day I feel incrediably guilty. I have been really keen to ensure my phone is well charged during the festival so I’ll be able to chat to him. At the show Freeloader, the makers of the Pico solar phone charger, were selling wholesale priced chargers. Definitely an important piece of kit for the seriously remote remote worker!

At the end of the day we had the chance to enjoy the Super Theatre Show presenterd by the actual show presenters (Suzi Perry, Jason Bradbury, Jon Bentley and Ortis Deley). Some wacky races, a few mad experiments, a giant robot and lots of incidents of members of the public competing for kit. Probably the two highlights of the show were the incredible jugglers Feeding the Fish who juggle highly visual illuminated LED batons and the Festo’s bionic flying penguins.

There are lots of videos showing the event hightlights available on the Gadget Show Live Web site.


Benchmarking and Quality Marks for Remote working

Benchmarking and measuring quality are standard practices these days in both the business and non-business world.

For goods we have the Kitemark symbol indicating they’ve been tested against safety and performance criteria. The Kitemark has been around since the early 1900s and is owned and operated by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

For organisations we have ‘business improvement tools’ like Investors in People marketed as a way to “transform your organisation’s performance by targeting your chosen business priorities“. One of the big aims of the indicator was that the organisations carrying it would in turn be the sorts of places people would want to work in.

The government runs QA schemes for all sorts of things including the Quality Assurance Scheme for Carbon Offsetting (QAS) and the recent quality mark for pensions.

I’m no expert but it’s clear that measuring quality is a cottage industry that can only continue to grow.

And as for benchmarking, well we are inundated with league tables for everything under the sun, from schools and MP expenses to fridge freezers and wireless providers.

So what about remote working?

Currently the main standard out there is the Work Wise standard, a standard for the adoption and deployment of smarter and more flexible working practices, launched back in 2007.

Organisations wishing to gain the standard will be assessed according to criteria that benchmark their adoption of flexible working practices. Awards against the Work Wise standard will be based on the amount of flexibility for the workforce, the levels of self-determination that employees have and operational benefits derived by the organisation.

A detailed overview is provided in pdf format.

As for benchmarking, well there was the Remote Worker awards I attended which judged organisations alongside individuals. Details of the 2010 awards are now on the Remote Employment site. However there doesn’t seem to be any tables of who employs the most remote/home workers and how organisations compare on the flexible working front.
Most of my data is gleaned from the UK National Statistics office. Not a particularly fun task!

So is there something out there I’ve missed?

I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who can offer me any more in this area.