Technology

Making the world a better place

As I still haven’t tired of telling you, tomorrow is our big TEDxStockholm event! And, apart from Hans Rosling (see my previous post), the agenda is packed with brilliant minds and innovators! Our theme is inspiration – and as I look through the programme, I think I can detect an underlying theme: how inspiration can help us make the world a better place.

There’s Isabella Lövin, who has written a book about the global problem of overfishing. What will happen when the seas are silent because there are no fish stocks left?

Then, there is Petra Wadström with her invention: SOLVATTEN – a system that makes unsafe water drinkable by using solar energy!

Solvatten

Just imagine a world where millions of people can get easy and cheap access to safe drinking water! It’s mind-boggling!

I’m also looking forward to hearing more about the Peepoo bag from one of the brains behind this invention, Anders Wilhelmson.

PeePoo

Over 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic toilets and sanitation: that’s 40 out of every 100 people! Naturally, this lack of toilets affects society because it contaminates both fresh water and ground water. The Peepoo bag acts like a toilet except that it is much cheaper than investing in the infrastructure needed for water toilets. Not only is this bag affordable, but it is bio-degradable AND it converts the contents into harmless fertilizers that can then be used on crops. Ingenious!

Last but not least: laughter also makes the world a better place, don’t you think?

Here’s the description I sent into TEDxStockholm about myself:

Lady Ficurious, humorous, passionate about ideas and chocolate. Tongue-in-cheek intellect, love immigrant, loser of keys, earring enthusiast and reluctant cook. Word guru extraordinaire, creative writer and happily-failed domestic goddess.

(OK! So I didn’t really call myself Lady Fi. After all, I don’t want my id taking over my ego…)

So, while I’m away – how about a little entertainment? How would you describe yourself in a humorous way? Or if that is too hard, how would you describe me? (Remember – the theme is kindness here!)

Entertain me in the comments, please! I mean – do I have to do all the work around here?  ;-)


Cyber Bling

On the whole, I’d say that the Swedes are very good at adopting new technologies and mindsets early on. One aspect they seem to have embraced is the open and sharing attitude that the Internet facilitates.

One example of this comes from Tomas Seo, whom I met at a recent TEDxStockholm event. After connecting up via Facebook and Twitter, I was excited to read all about his latest venture… his creative project during the holidays. Yes – he seriously needs his head looking into is keeping himself on creative toes while on holiday! (Can toes be creative? / Ed.)

And not only is he admirable – he is also generous. He is offering to create free logotypes (one to be finished every day for a month) if you tweet him a brief. For example:

twitter_logotypse

Read the rules here and then tweet him a brief if your company needs a logotype! Each logotype must be inspired by a movie or TV series character.

Now, to make this even more interesting, he is putting up screencasts on his site so that you can see his two or three hours’ work designing a logotype compressed into a two-minute video. It’s amazing how much work and thought goes into a logotype.

Naturally, I tweeted him a brief!

My blog is http://www.ladyfi.wordpress.com. Need something quirky and funny. Inspiration character: Dame Edna Everage.

And although he doesn’t really want to design blog headers, he kindly designed me some cyber bling!

lady_fi_final copy

If you watch the video showing his thought and work process, you’ll see that he really has captured the essence of that crazy Dame Edna! (Oh – and the music is good too!)

As to why I chose Dame Edna… well, I think you can all draw your own conclusions!

Humphries-DameEdna

For a look at other parts of the world, visit That’s My World!


Weekend visitor

We have a weekend visitor… so full of energy and mischief… not sure how I can cope!

frodo

Actually, we went out for a one and a half hour walk and Frodo tired himself out by running off into the woods. Ten minutes of blowing the whistle finally brought him back. Have you every noticed how a dog can pant and smile at the same time? That’s the look he gave me as he came racing out of the woods.

Oh – did I forget to tell you? Oscar (my dog) is Frodo’s dad. You can tell they are related by the luminous green eyes they both have…

Frodo (son) is lying down. Oscar (father) is sitting up.

Frodo (son) is lying down. Oscar (father) is sitting up.

On a banal housekeeping note: Google doesn’t like my cookies (seems that chocolate chip are not their favourites!) and thinks that I am trying to spam them or something. So, until my resident geek nerd in-house computer wizard has the time to look at Error 403 – and fix it, I cannot leave all you lovely people any comments. Please forgive me and just imagine me reading and leaving you all mental (in both senses of the word!) comments.


Black holes and exploding tempers

Just as a supermassive black hole can rip apart a star and eat some of its matter…

so too can various Microsucks Microsoft tools rip up and consume a whole morning’s work.

I spent the whole morning helping a colleague with her PowerPoint presentation. The whole morning, I tell you! And just as I was finishing off the whole thing with a few masterly strokes of my genius, PowerPoint decided to go and quit on me.

Without so much as a good-bye and thanks for all the tender care.

Damaged and never coming back sort of quitting. Laugh in your face, now you have to do three hours of work all over again kind of attitude.

That’s when I exploded (a terrible sight, but I have managed to piece myself together again with glue and lots of tears). I’d like to MicroWave all the dingly micro soft parts of those responsible, play ping pong with them and then feed them to hungry lions!

On a happier note! My live-in geek guru has tweaked my banner (it tickled!) so that it looks better.

What are you ranting about today? Or, if you are feeling good, what are you toasting (apart from marshmallows)?

CLARIFICATION: Yes, good folks, I did save the document… but it does not want to be saved and has thus declared itself to be corrupt and not-openable or even retrievable…


Signs of the future

If you remember, last month I popped over to the UK to visit my family and eat high tea. Not much high tea was eaten by me, unfortunately, but I did come across two innovations that I had never seen before.

One looked like this:

Well, it did because I always saw it through a rainy car window!

On further inspection, it turned out to be a solar-powered traffic sign telling us how fast we were driving and to slow down. (Oops! I’m giving away my sister’s driving secrets…)

It looked something like this:

Now that’s what I call a really good innovation! Traffic signs that can be lit up by the power of the sun. Brilliant! And solar energy can be stored for those all too frequent cloudy, rainy or sunless days. My only question is: why aren’t there more of these signs? They should be everywhere!

The second innovation looked like a tall tree. In fact, if my sister hadn’t pointed it out, I would still be secure in the knowledge that it was a tree! Can you guess what it was?

No, it’s not a hat …

… or an upside-down loo brush…

… or a giraffe disguised as a tall tree. (But you’re getting close….)

When stripped naked, it looks like this:

You got it! It’s a mobile phone mast. And in order to reduce visual pollution and save our sensitive souls from ugly outer-space objects, it is becoming more and more popular to disguise masts as different objects.

Like trees… or weather vanes, or clocks or drainpipes or chimneys. It seems that masts can be made to look like almost anything! After all, a whacking tall tree in the middle of a car park would look as obvious as a pig wearing lipstick and a polka-dot bikini. Or as obvious as the nose on a politician if he or she were Pinocchio. However, disguise it (the mast – not the pig or the nose) as a chimney and no one will know it’s even there!

And that, of course, is part of the problem. These masts may no longer blight the British landscape, but they can now be lurking there, right outside your bedroom window or your children’s school. And – considering the possible health risks – you may not really want them there at all.

So, beware! There may be a mobile phone mast very near you – without you even knowing it.

What are your signs of the future? Are they good innovations – or innovations you would rather live without? Tell me about them here – or write a post on your blog and link here so that we can all enjoy your thoughts! Er… if you want to that is!


Sizzling hot revolution

“The greatest invention since the steam engine!” says my husband, while MIT is more modest and calls it a ‘major discovery’. What is this major breakthrough? Storing solar power on a large scale for when the sun is not shining.

You see, not being able to store solar power has always been a barrier to utilizing the sun as a natural source of energy. But now, researchers from MIT, headed by Daniel Nocera, Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT, have come up with a simple, not too costly and very efficient way of actually storing solar energy.

Apparently, Nocera and another guy called Matthew Kanan were inspired by the photosynthesis of plants. They have developed a radical new process that will allow the sun’s energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The oxygen and hydrogen can then be recombined later on inside a fuel cell. Result? Carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night!

This, my dear readers, is astounding news! Everyone should be shouting it from the rooftops! It’s a giant leap towards producing clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale. It’s a vital step towards breaking our dependence on fossil fuels.

Just imagine – in ten years’ time – in OUR OWN lifetimes – we may very well witness the solution to the energy crisis (and a significant step towards reducing global warming).

Yes – we may very well see an era where fossil fuels become … well, fossils!


The right to be disconnected…

I want to tell you about a phone conversation my husband had with a telecommunications sales executive. Let’s call him Bill (the salesman, not my husband). From what I can gather, the conversation went something like this:

Bill: Rhubarb! Rhubarb! (General sales patter)… Have you got mobile broadband? You haven’t? Then you might be interested in our summer offer. Get mobile broadband for a trial period – 250 kronor connection charge and free for the first year. Just to see if you like it.

Husband: Sure, I’d like to give it a try, but I don’t want to pay for something that I might not like.

Bill: But don’t you want to be connected all the time, wherever you are?

Husband: Well, I’ve got wireless broadband at home, broadband at the office and Internet on my phone. I don’t need to be connected all the time.

Bill: Puzzled silence.

Husband – trying to be helpful: Sometimes it’s nice just to sit on the bus and read a book.

Bill – even more puzzled, not to say a little worried: But are you sure you don’t want to be connected 24/7?!?

Husband: Look! I’ve been working in computers for the past thirty years. Sometimes, it’s nice NOT to be connected!

Bill: Silent. Very silent. Speechless.

Husband decides to finish the call: I think I’ve wasted enough of your time. Have a good evening!

Don’t know about you – but sometimes it is essential to do something else – something offline. Like talk with your kids, read a book, sing a song, talk with a friend, be at peace for a while to calm the noise of the day.

I agree that mobile broadband is great if you want to work outside the box – on a park bench, on a beach, or anywhere that inspires you – to do your best. At work.

However, just now and then, very occasionally, when you’re on the beach, it is great just to be on the beach. With a book. The waves. Family or friends.

And sometimes, you can even go to the beach, not to work or to surf the Internet – but to surf the waves.

Believe me – it is essential for your well-being.


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