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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 27 March 2020, 12:27 pm

Here's this week's update from Techblog editor Paul Brislen

You're locked in here with me 

Day Two of lockdown and so far I've discovered a few things that are causing me concern.

I have become used to talking to people and I quite miss it.

The cat is particularly poor company and her value to me now is mostly as a fresh food source should the need arise.

On most video conference calls there's usually one guy who's there for comic relief. I am that guy.

My reaction speed has declined significantly over the last 12 months so my ability to beat even the bots on Modern Warfare 3 is now embarrassing.

If you think "meetings that should have been emails" are annoying (as I do) then wait till you get "video conferences that should have been phone calls".

Currently I'm looking at three screens. Four if you include my phone. Five if you include my watch. What tends to happen is someone messages me on Skype, it pings on one screen, my watch yelps and my phone vibrates. I respond to the query. I then get invited to a Teams call, but the notification disappears before I can accept so I have to go into the invite and join that way (thus playing the ever popular game of "Yes, I already have Teams installed, no I do not want to install it again or use the website, thanks".

Somewhere down the line I've switched off the notifications for Teams on my phone and watch so I don't get bugged there, but I do get all the messages that teams send each other about the Team meeting I'm not in, which makes me sad.

Occasionally my watch will ping a different way and I know it's a news alert from RNZ telling me about something awful. My heart goes thump at those. My watch is now smart enough to provide an ECG if I need it to monitor those pesky irregular beats.

Plus we have WhatsApp for general chatter (now muted - sorry chaps), Yammer which I monitor for a client, Twitter for another client and Facebook which I refuse to use. Thanks, Facebook.

I also get text messages and that other thing, oh yes, email and there's that one noise that belongs to an app but I haven't figured out which one it is so that drives me nuts.

Once this would have been invigorating and given me a rush of adrenaline. Today, not so much.

My advice is to turn off notifications for almost all of it, but most essentially those apps that chase you around from device to device. You don't need three alerts or more for the same thing. Likewise, the non-work related things - they don't need to go ping at this point. Save them up for once a day.

Of course, the alternative is too awful for words, and these are entirely First World Problems, so I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Just remember, if in doubt, call a meeting.

Here at Techblog HQ we're well aware that you'll soon become bored with COVID-19 news updates but as it's the only real story of the day, we'll have to figure out a way forward.

What we'd like to do is share your stories with the group. How are you all coping? What is your team doing to keep the lights on that might be something that another group can use?

We're going to talk to as many companies and organisations (and individuals) as we can over the next few weeks to find out how it's going and what you're doing differently. Maybe we can learn something useful out of all this.

If you'd like to talk about it with one of us, drop me a line at [email protected] and we'll hook you up.

One thing that is clear now - telecommunications and IT are essential services to keep both the economy and sanity running smoothly. Without our interconnectedness we'd be absolutely unable to function as a society. That's terrible but it's also good. I'm very glad I'm not in Australia at the moment with a PM who says 25Mbit/s is fast enough - it isn't and shouldn't even be a consideration.

But it also says we need to very badly do something about social media and the degree to which it dominates our online lives. We have allowed them to create a monster that controls our information flow - that has to change.

NZ Herald - Covid 19 coronavirus: State of the telcos: Lockdown teething issues will pass, but big problem remains (PAID)

Politico - Coronavirus crisis shows Big Tech for what it is - a 21st century public utility

NZ Herald - Investors up pressure on Facebook, Google and Twitter to stop sharing of terror attacks (PAID)

Techblog - Bubble fun time

Techblog - Level 4 is here - tech experts weigh in

Techblog - The luckier country




Lockdown silver linings

Of course, being locked down doesn't necessarily mean you have to work 24/7 in your home office. There will be times when you're allowed out - not just for meals either, but for rest and recreation.

Once you've taken your state-sponsored walk around the block you'll be wondering what else there is to do with yourself. After all, there's no sport to speak of, and for most, the world has become a televisual one and the sales figures for Netflix, Amazon Prime etc are pretty good.

But surely there's more out there than just those two and a couple of others (oh and TVNZ and Mediaworks of course. Sorry guys, nearly forgot you there).

Good news - there are legal alternatives to watching paint dry. Bad news - they pretty much all carry similar content and we don't really have the full range of alternatives down here yet. There's no horror channel, no science fiction channel, no film noir or obscure French 50s kitchen dramas or pretty much anything that's not mainstream.

There are a couple of alternatives though so they're listed below, but wouldn't it be great if we did have a few more options out there?

Of course, the alternative is that there are alternatives out there - and they all cost about $15 a month each, meaning of course we'll have to buy dozens of services.

Back down the snake to square one again.

But for now, feast your eyes on these non-standard fare (and no, we're not on commission). And if you've got any more to share, legal sites only please, then by all means fire at will.

Tubi TV

Acorn TV

HistoryHit TV

Flicks - Flicks round up of on demand TV

NZ On Screen

Ngà„ Taonga

Auckland Libraries - Streaming films

And of course, YouTube for long lost television you thought you'd never see again.


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