For a pair of Pink shoes….

31 Jul

How many of us have been asked to provide copies of passports or drivers license as proof of indentity? Standard practice at interview I believe? How many know that is actually illegal? Yep, it is illegal to make copies of a government-issued document, whatever the purpose.

So this morning I received this:

Dear Gabriella,

Thank you for placing an order with Ash Online. Before we dispatch your order we must ask you for additional authentication details. Our fraud department have requested you provide e.g. a driving license or passport as proof of identification.

We apologise for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding about our need to implement these additional security measures. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. We will wait to receive a scan of your additional document/s before we dispatch your parcel.

Kind regards,
Ash footwear

Yesterday I was trying to buy a pair of shoes, pink leather high tops if you must know, and all hell broke loose. My beloved digital-phobe Mum gave me her credit card number (she lives in Italy so it’s (urgh) a “foreign card”) and told me to buy myself a pair of highly coveted shoes, brilliant! I thought. Once on the Ash website I entered her name and her Italian address as the cardholder but put my email, and delivery address. Obviously this sent all sorts of alarm bells to their fraud department. Without commenting how sad it is than even a shoe store has a fraud department, I understand their alarm. It does look dodgy. Especially because, bless her, my mother never activated the “3D password” for her credit card. Even more alarm bells I bet when the site rejected the payment (twice). I can’t blame Ash for being alert but it makes me ponder that what they asked for was a copy of my private identification document. I take it because they are supposedly (that’s up for a long debate) harder to fake.

So I have instead replied like this:

[…] I appreciate you have a fraud department (for a shoe store??) but this is getting a bit crazy. It is illegal to make copies of official government documents such as passports and drivers licenses so, no, I won’t be sending one. If you want to know who I am, I work for a government agency and you can find me here: I also have a fairly large digital footprint which is easy to track just by googling me. Gabriella is my Mum and since your site only gives the option of one name and she was paying for it I put hers in not mine. All very innocent.

If you want to cancel the order go ahead, I never realised getting pair of shoes as a present would be so incredibly complicated.

thankfully there are other stores who sell shoes on the internet, it’s a shame because I really liked that colour but it’s not worth the hassle.
Best regards
Samantha Hammell
What sad state of affairs is that instead of verifying a person the digital way (I believe there is far more info on me online that in my passport) we resort almost always to the old fashion paper of a highly fakeable document. Wouldn’t it be easier (and legal) to just check if a person checks out online? isn’t this the digital age? The mind boggles and I bet you I will never see my pink shoes.

it’s been ages!

18 Jun

So the main reason for blogging again is that I am quite proud of this blog and I am sorry to see it abandoned. I could say it is a sad story of loss (my father passed away) and not having the energy (I have started running, religiously every other day) but the truth is: I am lazy. So there…I said it.

That however doesn’t mean that I am not still passionate about all things digital. I am…

Recently I gave a hard time to Adobe during their Summit which I was following online about having so many speakers whose sole purpose was to sell, sell sell. Talking about misjudging your audience…

That pitch might have gone down well in the, shall we say, more financially oriented US of A but in Europe? Not so much.

Also, what really ticked me off was that very few mentioned UX in any of their case studies. I mean, what are they basing their product development on, exactly? So I gave them a hard time and it was not surprising the the only tweet they allowed was the one hailing Mark Gatiss as a great writer during Benedict Cumberbatch keynote (still a mystery on why he was there..but hey! I am a fan so not complaining).

But I’ve got a few more followers in the process, they probably will be sorely disappointed that I am not having a tweet fest every day but I will try my best to include some interesting stuff in between rants about UPS guy pushing me off road.

One thing I saw during the summit was the presentation on iBeacons, which I thought was really interesting. I have been following their development closely  with Estimote as I am waiting for some bright spark to come up with an idea to deliver AR content through beacons (they now come in Cubes, called, you guessed it, Cubeacons) in a gallery but alas I haven’t seen anything yet.

So the guy at the summit proceeded to explain how you can deliver offers in store using beacons, bit limited but the audience went “oohh” so I guess they like it. I think used in gallery, the possibilities are endless (cliche but true) so would love to have a chance at developing content for them (that’s a hint for you Tate).

Later peeps, promise I won’t disappear…

Stop the Presses: Wales National Museum uses ibeacons and of course the crazies at the Brooklyn Museum and I found a linked in group (whoop whoop)…

Change the world with digital

23 Jul

I have been away very long, apologies for that. A lot has happened, new job, new therapist, new boss….

But I digress…

I am fresh from a ‘cultural’ weekend in London where I managed to engage my brain cells and have fun at the same time. Ah the Barbican! I have been a member for a few months but I am glad I did it. If you want a place that stimulates you to “think outside the box” (pardon the cliche), that’s the ticket.

We went to see Jean Paul Gautier but we stayed for the Digital Revolution. Besides the sinking feeling that alas I was alive and kicking when most of the “old” consoles were invented there was some truly inspirational  stuff out there. I would have had peel my son off Mine craft but what caught my eye was a little installation called Brain Writer by the inspirational bunch who run Not Impossible Labs.

They designed a (simple) device that helped an ASL sufferer (and great graffiti artist) to find his hands, brushes, spray cans again, all operated by eye tracking movement, sounds familiar? I thought so…Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about this.  If that is not magic, I don’t know what is. So I might be in the game again to develop another PhD proposal, one with a heart that will get somewhere this time. We are here to change the world…I am going to try to do my bit for it.

I have been thinking about something Thoreau wrote:
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

The hell I will…..stay tuned

New blog post: #AR in aid of disability

10 Jun

So the job I am doing now gives me the opportunity to work and interact with some amazing people. We work primarily with people with quite complex disabilities and interacting with them and their parents/carers got me thinking. We seem to rely an awful lot on touch, voice activation and what not but what if our audience could not use their hands or speak in a way that a machine could understand?

What if we could retro fit something like #googleglass to ‘read’ eye movement and trigger content? There is research out there to use eye tracking for disability, Professor Stephen Hawking using facial recognition to communicate, but is there anything/anybody out there who is developing this type of technology in relation to AR?

Obviously interaction with virtual 3D objects would be quite interesting but I think a system like this could easily be applied to a lot of practical tasks and would allow disabled people to be much more independent. you could start with basic functions like open and ‘manipulate’ a 3D object but what else could this be used for?

Just thinking….


New blog post: Socially modified objects?

6 Mar

I have applied for a post at EIF, we’ll see….good for the soul to think ‘laterally’ about Art. It would be a good opportunity to develop interesting stuff around performance…food for though people!

I am writing this whilst listening to YoYo Ma, so forgive me if I sound a tad…’Inspired’, he does that to me 🙂

I am chewing on this idea about ‘social collective’ contributing to the identity of an object. I know studies like the Participatory Museum have explored different ways already but I am thinking what if the reaction people actually have towards an object becomes part of the object itself? And you use social media or AR to record that?

There has been a lot of controversial art through the decades, Marcel Duchamp and Robert Mapplethorpe spring to mind. Reactions for their artwork were always very strong, sometimes outright violent. So I am wondering, do these become part of the object ‘memory’ itself? Does  its perception by people become part of the object itself?

I am interest in how social responses could be captured using AR and then delivered using AR as part of an exhibition to “augment” the identity of the object itself. Object center stage but additional content delivered by AR INCLUDING people responses to it. That’s in practice.

But what about the object’s ‘soul’? is it modified, expanded, developed into something different from what the artist intended?

Still very much chewing on that…thoughts welcome.


New blog post: the conundrum of being in a funk, aka: a cry for help

23 Jan

Help me. No, really…help me.

As I am writing this I am staring at yet another rejection letter for a possible employer. “Dear Ms Hammell, we thank you for your interest in working with us….unfortunately….however…” I seriously want to scream.

I wish they wouldn’t insult my intelligence by telling me the reason I didn’t get it is because ‘there were a lot very good candidates’, yeah? The reason is that employers look at my CV and think: BORING, heck I look at it and think boring! It’s called life, people! you take the jobs you need to take sometimes, it doesn’t mean the spark is gone, Get it @DI_Jobs?

I have worked in this field, one way or another since 1999. Count them, 14 years! of experience and I would love to get back into what I love doing. I am currently in a mighty funk.

Maybe because I think in life you have to do something that inspires you, drives you, makes your heart pump blood…you get the gist.  And although my current job is inspirational enough in its context, my heart belongs in a  university, or research centre or company that develops new technology, or…well, Google!

I want to research, develop, break barriers, think outside the sodding box!! yes I am whining! and I hate whiners! See what you did all of you rejecters? Thinking back to all my experience, my studies (I have two Masters for crying out loud!) what can I do to get there? Is it a lost cause?

Right now all I want is to research ground-breaking technologies, let me!

I want reconstruct Greyfriars in Leicester,  show that objects had a life outside a museum, a building that no longer exists still can be visited, that they way people “feel” about art is part of the identity of an object and technology can help connect that (watch out for the next post, yes, it will be about technology again!)

There is so much I want to do!

So help me, really.

Have job, will travel.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and I will come back in the next life as Nancy Proctor.


New blog post: Of 3D, HFR and Hobbitses…precioussss #thehobbit

17 Dec

So I couldn’t resist, and why should I, thank you very much? Yes I am a museum geek but I also love epic sagas…wait…that also means I am a geek…

3D has been around now for what it feels like ions but frankly I was getting increasingly less excited about it as time went by because I couldn’t see anything really innovative with it since seeing a skull in stereoscopic 3D (that’s 3D without the glasses to you and me) at a fair in Birmingham. That was six years ago. I have been intrigued by 3D integration with  AR because I do think the two go hand in hand but then again I haven’t seen ‘real’ 3D (360 objects for example) integrated that much lately, if I am wrong by all means flag it up.

So it was with trepidation that I waited for the Hobbit to come out. I loved the LOTR trilogy so why would this be any different? I was slightly weary of the huge hype this film had however. When Fellowship of the Ring came out it was somewhat subdued in comparison, nobody really expected that much from a semi-obscure director and somewhat famous cast and of a film shot as far away from Hollywood you can get without moving to Mars. But this one, oh dear…seemed everybody had an opinion about it, 3D or HFR, or both and one million comments about beards.

The thing I have always loved about Peter Jackson (PJ as we lovingly call him) is that he is never been afraid to try new things, the hell with reputation, expectations or even, in some cases, good taste. I commend him for it, he goes for it. So here we are, the introduction of HFR in a pretty much slam-dunk of a blockbuster, just for the hell of trying something new. Will he succeed? Will this be end of his career?

Well I went to see both version 3D IMAX and 3D HFR. To have an even comparison I should have gone to see HFR IMAX but this is after all Scotland (or the sticks, in the most loving sense of the word) so that’s what I had to work with.

And the verdict is:

IMAX is bigger but not necessarily better. I had to blink about ten times to refocus my eyes and not miss bits of it. Forget the actions shots or swooping panoramics,  they all went into a big scooping blur with Thorin’s (divine) face coming out of it at the end. <insert wrong answer buzzing sound here> loved the film but not the format… so much.

Then it came the HFR. At first I felt like I was in a huge HD tv demo. Then I got it. When we bought our (beloved and adored) SMART tv we felt the same way. It was just too perfect and the 3D was mind blowing on it. Once you adjust to it though, the fun really begins. Remember all those swooping camera angles and actions shots I missed the first time around? Yep all there, in brilliant details, not a smidge missing. Dwarves running, jumping, fighting and yes, crying in perfect details…and still Thorin’s (now even more divine) face at the end of it. From a tecchie point of view, you basically have two bits of data where there was one so to me that works far better.<insert whoop whoop sound here>

This has got to be the future of cinematic endeavour and I am looking forward to potential other applications of it because,  who knows really?

I will only say one thing: if you are a fan of vintage, grainy, Capresque black and white film, then don’t bother. But if you are, like me open to new ideas and ‘things’, then by all means enjoy. After all, I will only see It’s a wonderful life in black and white but still enjoyed this one. Who knows what the future (or PJ) will bring.


This will probably be my last post this year, more in the new year about #Ingress, quite intrigued about it really but before I can speak of it I need to play it!

Love to all, Happy Holidays and with all the evil in the world lately I wish you all joy, happiness and PEACE from the bottom of my heart.