Every so often, the Odeon Cinema chain in the UK holds ‘Screen Unseen‘, where you pay a nominal price to see a movie of their choice, usually two or three weeks before it comes out. In 2016, I was lucky enough to see some great movies but I struggle to remember them all, this year I will capture them here.
This month’s Screen Unseen was Hidden Figures, a story based on real life about a group of African-American women in segregation-era America who were involved in the early days of the space race. As gifted and talented mathematicians, they provided the ‘computer’ power required to execute the unmanned and early manned missions. I hadn’t heard much about this film, so was really pleased to be presented this one. It’s a feel-good story, possibly slightly romanticised, but brimming with humour and some sadness as the three key characters navigate working in a predominantly white-male NASA in the early sixties.
There are some excellent scenes as one-by-one the NASA colleagues begin to see the value that the ‘computers’ bring to the space programme, with the key character being instrumental in sending the first man to space, as well as implementing the first IBM mainframe. The cast is excellent, with Kevin Costner playing a pivotal role, alongside Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory), Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae.
Once again, Screen Unseen popped up an unexpected gem of a movie. I’ll be looking out for the next one.
There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job.
It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life.
This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing
Disrespect invites disrespect, violence invites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.
Meryl Streep, Golden Globes, January 2017 – let’s see how the next four years unfold
SFTW is a weekly email I send to my team, recapping top of mind thoughts and curating some useful and fun links from across the web.
Whatever your New Years resolution is, I hope you are on course and feeling successful. I don’t make them because I don’t want to have an excuse to fail.
When I do decide to make a change, I do it for good reasons. Ultimately, I’m trying to improve myself or my life and make myself more content or happier. Whether it is ceasing a bad habit or starting a good one, the ultimate goal is a better, happier, fitter me.
Over the holiday break, I was thinking about whether the approach was all wrong. Rather than working from the ‘outside in’, whether I could make the changes from the ‘inside out’. If I could start happy, then maybe I wouldn’t depend on bad habits, or approach things in a reductive way.
So, that’s my plan. I’m going to hunt down the situations that make me the happiest. When I find them, I’m going to be mindful of why I’m happy, and the fact that I don’t need anything else.
I won’t use the New Year to trigger a resolution like that, I’m going to just commit and make it happen.
Something from the Web
I’ve talked about self-improvement a number of times before and Udemy always comes up as a provider that delivers great online courses, they are running a winter sale which can give you access to great courses for a fraction of the cost. £10 for a £180 course sounds like a bargain to me! (Hat-tip to CT for the recommendation here)
Bruce Sterling (Science Fiction Author) gives an insightful review of the big five tech companies in 2017. Interesting to see who comes out on top.
Some great insights into the dark arts of networking. The only three networking emails you ever need to write. Some superb advice here.
Finally, this three-step guide to taking Friday off is an excellent way to structure your final work day of the week around a set of tasks that will make you more productive. This is largely how I structure my Friday, but there are some tweaks here which I’m going to implement.
We’ve been using Amazon Echo devices at home for about a month, there are three ‘Dots’ around the house, and they get used daily, mainly for music streaming and general information.
I’m a massive fan. This technology feels like the future, much more than virtual reality or giant screens that take up a wall. The Alexa interface to the AI feels like a natural and intimate way to communicate, and once we all discover how to talk casually to a computer, things will seem less ‘deliberate’.
We’re still a way off the fluidity and intelligence of the interface in ‘Her’, but so far, so good.
The next step is to build the skills that the Alexa operating system can understand. Amazon has made it easy to build skills and get them into the marketplace. As more developers get on board, the network effect of Alexa will improve. Enhanced skills, along with different form factors, will make the Alexa ecosystem a genuinely useful place to be.
For now, the deep pockets of Amazon mean that Alexa is here to stay. Especially in this house.
How was your Christmas? Good New Year? I think I have a THOUSAND emails! I’ve almost forgotten how to do my job? Any New Years Resolutions? I *hate* January!
You can play bingo with the usual small talk about the beginning of the year, but now it’s time to move past that part of the script.
So, make today the last day for your Christmas and New Year small talk and get into the mindset to smash 2017.
For levelling up? It’s your choice.
You can upgrade skills, shift role, move company or change career – but if you don’t take the first step, you won’t make the next step.
In the competitive business world, standing still is not really an option. We all need to grow our skills, get educated and learn new competencies before the next person does and drinks your milkshake.
There are plenty of opportunities out there, but no-one will lead you to them. YOU will need to take the next step. This isn’t about New Year resolutions or buying a self-help book to leave on the reading pile to gather dust, this is about choosing and executing an investment in yourself.
So, is this your year?
Time to make it happen.
Advent, Christmas, Twixmas, New Year, Hangover, Resolutions.
It’s all done now, finished for another year. Depending on where you are, today is a last free day before heading back to work after a break, or at least some quiet time.
So today is a time to be ready, pencil sharpened, tools ready, inbox organised and notebook fresh for another year of success.
Let’s BLAST into 2017.
Happy New Year! Wishing everyone a successful, peaceful and prosperous year.
Whilst 2016 wasn’t a great year for many things, there was some amazing music about.
Here are my top ten albums of the year, in no specific order:
- Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
- Lisa Hannigan – At Swim
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
- Kate Tempest – Let them eat chaos
- Joep Beving – Solipsism
- Keaton Henson – Kindly Now
- Olafur Arnalds – Island Songs
- James Blake – The Colour in Anything
- Rokkurro – I Annan Heim
- Tricky – Skilled Mechanics
Regular readers will know of my obsession with German film director Werner Herzog – this short film: The Journey of a Plastic Bag is narrated by him, and is a brilliant watch.
Alternatively – here’s a video of astronauts singing on the moon.
This brilliant photo essay is a great insight into the world I grew up in, I was 11 in 1980 (yep – that old), and these were the people I was surrounded by in West London.
This cat in a hat could well be the best thing on the internet:
Finally – I’ll leave you with the greatest Christmas Song ever written – if you have got this far, please reward yourself with this beauty: