Protected by Copyscape Unique Content Checker
Showing posts with label talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label talk. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 free online whiteboard (etc) collaboration tool

Screengrab of's homepage. is an innovative collaborative progressive web app, or PWA, which allows users to communicate in visual drawings as well as through text chat, audio, videos and by uploading files.

Progressive web apps are technically normal web pages available through modern browsers such as Google Chrome, but they look more like something users would see on a mobile. They allow all kinds of tricks that regular web pages wouldn’t too, such as being able to draw a response in a chat window, swap files and work on a mobile as seamlessly as a PC. describes itself as a free online whiteboard, but the site also allows video conferencing and text messages with offline notification. The video conferencing side allows images and files to be dragged and dropped into the chat, while the text messaging option will suit those more used to chatrooms than video conferencing. is powered by and has an extensive lexicon of keyboard shortcuts available for Windows and Mac systems, These cover all aspects of tool use, navigation and editing functions. It looks fairly simple to use, whether on the elderly Mac laptop I own or my more modern Android phone.

A meeting is initiated via the Start Meeting button available on most pages of the site. It’s as simple as that. Collaboration is easy, whether users write, draw or speak their ideas by preference. I can see this PWA appealing to the severely dyslexic people I have worked with, who were able to understand pictures much quicker than words, as well as those who prefer to speak to someone face to face and people like me who prefer words on a page.

Yes, there have been drawing apps before which have a chat element; the similarly named DrawChat or Draw Something (both 2012 releases), for instance. But this isn’t an app. It doesn’t appear in Google Play. Users simply type into their browser and the site will load. On a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile, it looks and works the same. And unlike many apps, this PWA has a solid business purpose. It can bring together collaborators from around the world in a couple of clicks, and allow them to share ideas across different media simply and quickly, crossing boundaries of language and expression.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Private chat lines, Turkish style, from Ozel Sohbet Hatti

Ozel Sohbet Hatti logo.
Supplied and used with permission.

Despite the rise in online dating and singles/match sites, chat lines are still popular in many countries. Turkey has a booming chat line industry, and a simple search engine enquiry will find several pages listing companies offering these telephone based services, instead of, or as well as a web based chat forum option.

One of them is Ozel Sohbet Hatti (Private Chat Lines) which offers a chat service for 295 krs a minute, or around $1 a minute. Mind you, to use the site, you have to be able to speak Turkish, as it’s not always offered as a translated option in searches, possibly due to the subject matter.

On the home page, visitors are shown photographs of 12 different girls, and on average around 10 are available at any given time. Dial the chat line number, select the extension for the girl you would like to speak to, and you will be connected immediately. Of course, the service is open to over 18s only. I would imagine the chat can get pretty hot at times, just as it always has done on these kinds of chat lines.

One or two of the girls are showing their selfie abilities, having taken their pictures in front of a mirror for maximum effect. Gonca is standing in her bathroom, while Esra is showing off her bedroom behind her. There are a fair number of exaggerated pouts, as you might expect, and Gonca at least looks as if she is channeling Kim Kardashian, in a figure hugging dress with her head back, long hair dangling and backside prominently thrust out. Both Ada and Ecrin’s photos show them as car passengers, and while Ada’s thousand yard stare is not directed at the camera, Ecrin’s large dark glasses hide a direct gaze as she flips the peace sign. Interested visitors can click the photos for a biography and more information on each girl. The site proudly boasts that it employs 100% Turkish girls on the phone lines.

The site administrators are contactable by email if users have any questions or run into problems while using the chat lines. However, these services are generally fairly simple to use. Regulars just have to be careful not to run up massive bills, or just as with mobile phone users who are shocked by call charges, they might be in for a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

In these technologically-led days, it’s interesting to see that the more traditional way of hooking up through private chat lines is still available in some places, even if these days the paper flyer has been replaced with a website instead.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Orly Lobel at TEDx UCIrvine: Too Many Secrets and Too Few Sparks

Orly Lobel gave a TEDx talk entitled 'Too Many Secrets and Too Few Sparks' a month or so ago. It is around 15 minutes in length and deals with the idea that today's culture of protection of ideas is not allowing the spread of creativity.

Orly believes that this attitude of secrecy is affecting all areas of life, not just technological innovation. Developers in many fields are bound by nondisclosure agreements, copyright and non-compete clauses.

From my own experience, writers often have to sign nondisclosure agreements even when writing short articles. Vast sums of money can be charged for copyright, with hundreds of dollars/pounds/Euros being earned by authors for even a short extract from a successful book or research paper. Damages awarded to companies for intellectual property and trademark infringement cases can run into billions of pounds, as demonstrated by the long running Apple v Samsung court case.

Orly feels that all this protectiveness is throwing great creative ideas off balance and that we are simply not sharing enough sparks these days. It's something where she has had personal experience. Her background is in military intelligence, so she was trained in keeping secrets. During her time in the military, she was unable to tell friends and family about her role, telling the audience that she used the line 'I could tell you but then I would have to kill you'. The military is good at keeping secrets secret, encrypting information and only sharing what needs to be shared.

Military life taught Orly and her fellow recruits about many fields where information could be shared but did not always need to be. The recruits were encouraged to build trusted networks to take beyond the military, and many companies today trace their origins to these networks. They operate on a simple premise; secrets are kept secret while all the rest of their information is in the public domain.

The only problem is that there are people who would like everything to be in the public domain. This leads to situations where talented programmers in various industries are being arrested and charged for sharing secrets. This is not just Wikileaks-style sharing, this is as simple as someone emailing a work document to their home email.

The FBI tells us that the risk of spreading knowledge is as dangerous as terrorism these days. If information that should have been kept secret finds its way to someone with a use for it, intentionally or by accident, then it could certainly be turned against the originating company or even their country.

Orly goes on to explain that major companies, previously feverishly innovative, are now more protective of information. In some cases, she opines, they are spending more time, money and effort enclosing and protecting their existing innovation than on new research and development. Copyright is now held well beyond the creator's lifetime. Anything in the fields of music, art, and literature is now protected by a copyright term of the author’s lifetime plus 70 years.

The problem is that in some environments, research and ideas are like rabbits - they will breed no matter how hard you try to prevent it. Universities are particularly fertile ground, and ideas almost appear out of the air to manifest themselves on paper. Orly suggests that 'knowledge spread is power'; those who have the ability to spread knowledge will acquire the power. No wonder universities and Silicon Valley are so productive! Some companies, though, are stagnating in their industry, they need to show their hand as leaders. The only way to do that is to share knowledge.

Elon Musk of Tesla Motors has decided to share the technology knowledge behind the cars. He has made all of the company’s development open source so that everyone, even competitors, can benefit. Often, companies which have adopted this strategy have experienced rapid growth when the knowledge is shared. Orly summarizes it as ‘loose lips build ships’, meaning that knowledge is not just for entrepreneurs but for everyone.

The best way to engage with knowledge, at least for the scientific community, is to work together. Knowledge is not a weapon of terror, but rather a tool for engagement, according to Orly Lobel. Connectivity and networking is the best way to win the global talent war these days, she reckons. Given the multinational representation in most labs and teaching hospitals, that wouldn’t seem too far off the mark. This multicultural, multilingual, multi-influence mix harks back to the likes of 15th Century Florence. More recently, Hollywood, Nashville and Silicon Valley have become hotbeds of creativity and knowledge sharing, therefore also power centres of the same. We are sharing, not enclosing, innovation; creating the next generation of inventors and trend setters. This is the right balance between secrets and sparks - enough secrets to make it interesting, enough sparks to drive invention.

The Tower of Babel (or as Orly calls it, 'Babylon') is an allegory of not being able to work together. We speak different languages, metaphorically and physically, and even if we have the same ideas we are sometimes unable to communicate them to each other. Destroying the Tower of Babel will allow us to communicate effectively, hide or share ideas accordingly and learn from each other where possible.