27 Oct

Chiharu Shiota: Other Side

That moment when you feel something in the atmosphere that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up is beautiful. I felt that today, when I visited the Towner gallery in Eastbourne.

There’s a fantastic installation in their huge exhibition room by the very talented Chiharu Shiota. When you walk in, you feel like you’ve just walked into a horror movie. My toddler son suddenly announced “don’t like it”. I can understand why he felt that way. It was unnerving. You are presented with five mismatched, weathered doors, and a huge web of black yarn. It is woven into such beautiful shapes, that you just can’t help but admire it’s construction. It is thin enough that you can make out people on the other side of the room, distorted by the wool tunnels, but thick enough that your path is clearly mapped out. The dim bulbs hanging within the web reflect the light perfectly, so that the floor is also a mass of web-like shadows. It is eerie and fantastic, scary and wonderful all at the same time.

I would really recommend going to visit this one. It is free to view – so well worth the trip – and on until 5th January 2014.

Chiharu Shiota: Other Side

Instagram @KurtJobling

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24 Oct

The way in which we get customer service

It is never a good decision to give customers just one way to get in touch. There are times when an email is best – you don’t want to hang around on hold listening to the same song over and over, and it’s not that urgent anyway.

Sometimes a quick phone call is all it needs, then you can stop worrying and know that everything is sorted.

Phone Clock

Can technology reduce the amount of time we spend waiting on the phone?

And sometimes, yes even in this digital age, a letter is what is needed. I recently sent a letter to a company telling them what a good member of staff they had. It’s rare, but it does happen.

It’s irritating to say the least when a company is faceless. Take eBay for instance. How do you get in touch with someone just to explain a situation? It took me too long to find a number. I am certain that this is no accident.

We all have to deal with the endless phone queues though. As I write, I have been listening to the same ‘thank you for waiting, we will answer your call as soon as possible’ for over 15 minutes. All I want is a new PIN number. It’s not even an account I use much. Please, why is there no online contact form that I can just fill out and they can send me a new one?

Banks, council offices, utility companies, doctors surgeries, dentists… why is there no easy way to contact them? You’d think, in this day and age, they would have figured out that the longer they keep us waiting, the less likely they will be to get a polite and understanding customer on the end of the line?

There has to be a solution to this problem. Internet chat has come the closest for me, except at the point when they are clearly reading from a script – or when the problem is far from solved and they say ‘is there anything else I can help you with today?’

Surely technology can help with this. We are supposed to be in an age of global communication, and I have to wait twenty minutes to speak to someone in a bank I could have crawled to in this time.

 

*Note – 35 minutes and I gave up. What a way to make an issue out of something so routine!
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22 Oct

Wikipedia paid entries ‘shock’

It has recently been uncovered that hundreds of accounts have been set up on Wikipedia to create and edit pages to contain biased and promotional material. Wikipedia editors have expressed their shock at this ‘new’ information. The rest of us, however, are not surprised in the least.

The majority want to comply by the rules of Wikipedia, in the interest of this brilliant collective global information source, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be those few who want to use it for their own gains. There will always be this issue with a site in which anyone can come along and edit a post. It is Wikipedia’s brilliance as well as flaw.

There was a Dispatches documentary that aired just a couple of months ago uncovering the vast amounts of fake accounts that plague Facebook and Twitter, and the people paid pennies to like well-known, seemingly reputable brands.

 

 

We all know this goes on, and it is increasingly hard to combat. Damage to a company’s reputation is probably the main deterrent. So accusations of this activity really need to be investigated. But as an individual, there is something we can do – take ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and anything written on the internet, books or any media with a pinch of salt.

As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read”.

Read about another example of Wikipedia fraud here.

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20 Oct

Where’s my phone?

If you haven’t seen this video yet (and there’s a good chance you have considering it has had well over 26 million views at the time of writing) then you should watch – and take note!

There is a lot I have to say on this subject. I am definitely in the ‘how rude!’ camp. It’s not as straight forward as this though. There’s a time and a place for the smartphone. I love my smartphone as much as the next geek, but I will never take it out during a meal. If it’s an emergency, which doesn’t come up as often as we are lead to expect, than I excuse myself like a normal person.

But that’s just it. Normal doesn’t mean enjoying the moment for what it is anymore. Normal has slowly become, “Oh wow! What a great time we are having – let’s Instagram it!”

I take photos every now and then. I have a DSLR for those important events, and yes, my phone is great for the unexpected moment. I do, however, have a problem with people uploading the same ‘selfie’ about fifty times a day. No, we don’t want to see every single morsel of food you put in your mouth, or how stupid you can look pulling a duck-face.

I think to myself when I see these accounts, how do you have the time?

I know how much time technology and especially Facebook can take up. I admit, I am guilty of a love-hate relationship with the devil that is Candy Crush. I’m on level three-hundred-and-something. I hate that I’ve spent so much time playing it, where I could have been doing something brilliant and productive like reading a book or going to the gym. (*Idea – Candy Crush at the gym?!)

I have had to tell my brother to put his phone away on a visit. I mention this because he is family, and it is acceptable to be blunt with your family in a way that you wouldn’t with say, a work colleague. I found it rude. We were out for dinner, and I was trying to make conversation as we hadn’t seen each other for months, but I was second best to a text that could probably wait.

The worrying thing is that more and more people are falling into the following categories;

  • Those who find this behaviour rude but are culprits unknowingly and
  • Those who just don’t care because it’s so common now.

The amount of families I see out to dinner with little ones on phones, iPads and the like. Then the parents worry why their speech isn’t developing normally. “But they are really smart because they know how to hack the passcode on my tablet!”

Like I said, I love my smartphone. I love having google right there to answer every ridiculous question I have at any time of the day. But there are times when maybe it’s just better to talk to the person next to you. Let’s face it, they might have something to offer that you can’t find on your phone…

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16 Oct

Gina Homer: A quirk of an illustrator

I haven’t seen anything like the beautiful Gina Homer‘s crazy/cute illustrations. They make you laugh, they make you smile, they make you go ‘hey, now wait one second while my head bursts’.

Fresh out of Cambridge School of Art, Homer has already been honoured with the Frontroom graduate award, and has a number of successful exhibitions under her belt. Keep updated with this up-and-coming artist through Facebook or her tumblr.

Gina Homer - Stickers available for purchase

Gina Homer – Stickers available for purchase (click on image)

 

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07 Oct

Beautiful, beautiful world

There are some moments, rare though they may be, that provide utter clarity. They often follow many sleepless nights of torment, tossing and turning and trying to distract your brain.

I had such a moment today, in a steady stream of traffic. Not the most obvious setting for inspiration – vehicle after vehicle of impatient commuters desperate to get home doesn’t exactly scream beauty.

It wasn’t the immediate environment that captured my imagination and took my breath away, but the few moments I raised my eyes from the road to the view beyond. I was driving through Sussex, a simply stunning place, if you bother to look. I saw the Sussex Downs in the distance, just minding it’s own business, watching calmly as we ants crawled through it’s turf. I thought, no wonder so many artists find this such a inspiring place. If I thought for one second I could capture the beauty of this place, and of that moment in my head, than I would consider myself an artistic success.

I feel, however, that my attempts would pale in comparison to those of the great artists of our time. One to mention, and I could name hundreds, is Eric Ravilious, a local artist that schooled in Eastbourne. Just take a moment today to view the beauty that I saw on my drive this afternoon, through his artworks.

Chalk Paths 1935 Eric Ravilious

Chalk Paths 1935 Eric Ravilious

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02 Oct

My recent and long-awaited leap into “Mac land”

I have always been a Windows gal. Until very recently, I just didn’t fuss over Apple like the rest of the world, it seems. I have owned the same iPod for years. It was definitely one of the first generations. Despite the masses going crazy for the next model, I held onto my clunky, old 30Gb video iPod because it still functioned. It did have a tendency to switch itself off regularly, and had trouble turning back on, but sometimes it still played music if it was in a good mood.

It was only a few months ago, when there was absolutely no signs of life even after charging for what felt like an eternity, I invested in another. Shuffle, this time – cheap and cheerful and perfect for the gym, I find.

My phone is Android. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2, which I guess is now considered old and out-of-date too, although I am reluctant to upgrade just yet, as if even after two years I haven’t quite finished with this one. Sure, the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to (a daily charge is now a necessity) and every now and then it freezes as if I’ve asked too much of its ageing processor.

Apple vs Android

For someone who loves technology, I am rather reluctant to give up my old equipment in favour of new devices with even more pixels and automatic functions. Maybe because my old phone, that I have spent so many hours browsing on, playing games on (damn you, Candy Crush) and maybe the odd minute actually talking on has become so much a part of my life. It’s funny how leaving my phone at home for just a day feels like I’ve left behind a limb. I’ve become quite attached.

So there was an event that caused me to invest in a Macbook. My laptop battery needed replacing, it became too cluttered and hideous and mistreated by me to even know where to start. It was a horrible thing. I can see that now, now that I have my Macbook to console me on it’s sudden death. I had no choice but to let it go.

What really made me decide to go Apple though, apart from peering over jealously at my husband’s Macbook every day, and pretending I didn’t want to touch it, was beginning a Digital Media degree. I’ve been waiting to return to university, and now is the right time to invest in some tech capable of me throwing a lot at it and not crumbling under the pressure. My Macbook Pro is perfect for my use, and what’s more, it’s so pretty I want to die. Using it feels nice. For someone committing to spending a huge amount of time in front of a screen, it might as well be a lovely screen that you enjoy looking at.

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