Thursday, 22 February 2018

Ask A Techie 20 Questions – Liam Walsh - Creative Technology Director

How would you define a techie?

I'm not sure, it's a pretty big tent. People making things with technology is literally everybody now. Maybe they don't always know they're techies but they are.

Tell us about yourself (short bio)?

I'm the Creative Technology Director for Nexus Studios (Interactive Arts) in London. The team at Nexus Studios is dedicated to understanding and harnessing emerging technologies in service of engaging story experiences. For over 15 years, I've worked with research, ideas and coding work across the motion graphics, product design, video games, toy and publishing industries.

Tell us about your connection to the Caribbean?

My mum is Dominican, I was born in London but spent a couple of years in primary school in Dominica and then spent every summer at my grandmother's in Dominica and my Auntie's house in Barbados. My parents are retired now and have a house in Dominica and split their time between London and there.

Describe the tech space in Dominica?

In all honesty it's been pretty banged up by Erica and then Maria - just like the rest of the island. The infrastructure will take time to rebuild, the tech scene will follow but right now it's hard to even do video calls with my parents.

What do you think the Caribbean has to offer the tech world?

I think a different voice. The Caribbean has different ways to solve problems and different problems to solve. One of the real shames about the lack of diversity in tech is we end up with a lack of diversity in products. When everyone is the same they try and solve the same problems in the same ways.

Tell us about your participation in #ImpactJam?

I was invited by Jean-Michel Blottière of 'Games for Change' to take part. Games for Change is dedicated to using Video Games as a vehicle to promote social change. I really believe in the power of videogames to change people's behaviours.

I was there to give a talk about Augmented Reality storytelling and to mentor and support the particpants in the 'game jam'.

A game jam is when a bunch of creators (artists, programmers, writers, etc) get together in small groups and try and make a game in about 48 hours.

Your professional profile has "Creative Technologist" and "Creative Coder", tell us about those?

My job has always been about having ideas and making things. I have an arts and media background and fell into computer programming as another means of Creative expression. I get to make all sorts of things, sometimes your standard websites and apps but also data visualisation, generative art, museum and gallery installations, animations, UI, games, toys, books and physical products. Code is everywhere now an my job is to understand code well enough to have a creative idea and then figure out how to execute it.

How has tech improved your life?

It's easy to take it for granted but tech has given us all super powers.
It's like living in a magical realist novel. We're basically all telepathic, we can summon food and transportation. It's not all good news but on the whole it's a net positive I think.
On a personal level, technology basically is my livelihood. I fell into this in the late 90's - it wasn't something I'd even considered before.

What technical websites do you follow?

The only place I go every day is prostheticknowledge - prostheticknowledge.tumblr.com - it's full of interesting creative tech curiosities, creativeapplications.net is good too. After that I follow creative coders on Twitter and am in a few private slack and email groups for people like me.

How do you imagine the world would be in 50 years?

I don't know - I think it will be very, very different.
We have definitely seen technology outpace etiquette and it will shake up a lot of jobs soon, and the impact will be worldwide.
I hope we end up with Fully Automated Luxury Communism or something in that vein, but I really don't know what will happen or how turbulent the journey will be.

Mark Zuckerberg has said ‘We want to get a billion people in virtual reality’. Your thoughts on this?

I do a lot of work in Virtual Reality, and I think the billion people will probably use VR. But not all of the time. VR requires 100% of your attention and as such the thing you're doing in VR really is asking a lot from you, so it better be worth it. I like it for art experiences tools but as adults we rarely give anything 100% attention and VR asks for that so it sometimes feels lonely to me. Maybe I'm just too old for it.

Forest is to tree as tree is to?

Node. Sorry to respond with a lame graph theory joke. I tend to only deal with logic questions in tech interviews.

The best advice you have received?

Keep making stuff. Just have fun and keep making things and it'll work itself out. I've been fortunate enough to work with some of my creative coding and interaction design heroes and I wish I'd written everything down but nearly everyone tells me to focus on making things, make lots of things and eventually you'll be good at it.

What sports teams do you support?

Tottenham Hotspur. I play basketball but don't really follow the NBA or any team. I watch every single Tottenham game.

Where can I go in London to get good Caribbean food?

Tottenham and Dalston is where I go. I go to Brown Eagle in Wood Green a lot, for proper Creole soup I mostly I go to Mum's house.

How do you deal with disappointments?

Not as well as I should or could. I try and learn and grow from them and not give up. Working with computers you get a lot of negative feedback. Compiler errors, bug reports - most of the focus is always on what's wrong, I try and not take criticism personally.

Be an entrepreneur or work for a company?

I've been a freelancer / contractor and that was fun but I never planned on scaling up the business. Right now I work for Nexus Studios and I'm very happy. Running a business is a different job and it doesn't really appeal to me, I just like making things.

Android or iOS?

iOS - I make apps for both and use both but I prefer iOS

What tech event would you like to attend?

I get invited to a lot of these but I actually like being home with my family. I have always wanted to go to Eyeo festival or Inst Inst but the creative coding community is very small and very inclusive - people have been really accessible whenever I've reached out so I've not needed to go to the festivals to meet my heroes.

What question would you ask the next techie?

What have you seen recently that you wish you had made?

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Government of Jamaica to Actively Pursue Greater Use of Open Source Software

Kingston, 12 FEB 2018. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology today outlined the Government of Jamaica’s intention to pursue greater use of Open Source Software as part of its thrust to transform ICT within government while at the same time reducing the attendant costs associated with the use of proprietary software.

Guided by recommendations outlined in an Open Source Policy Framework report which was completed in late 2016, Minister Wheatley stated that “It is clear that there are huge benefits to be gained from greater use of open source software by developing countries like Jamaica and we intend to take a more active approach to incorporation of these types of software across government.”

Minister Wheatley in speaking about recurrent enterprise agreements with Microsoft, IBM and other proprietary software vendors said “ for a very long time we have been confined by the strictures and high costs of the license regimes of proprietary software offerings and we will now, in keeping with goals of our Vision 2030 plan, make the move to unleash the innovative capacity of our country by leading the way in the adoption of open source platforms”

Open Source Software is computer software that is distributed with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. The main benefits cited for open source software is the virtually non existent licensing costs and the broad adoption and accessibility of these types of software. Many of today’s most used enterprise online services and social media platforms are built using open source software.

Many nation states in the EU, Asia, North and South America have adopted open source software as an integral part of their public sector operations with great success. Some examples of Open Source software include:
  • Linux Operatiing Systems (Redhat, Ubuntu, SuSE)
  • Libre Office (Microsoft Office Alternative)
  • MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL NoSQL (Database Software)
  • PHP, Python, Java, Ruby on Rails (programming languages)
Dr. Wheatley said that in short order he will be forming a Technical Working Group comprised of representatives from the Office of the CIO, eGov and the Ministry of Science Energy and Technology whose sole purpose it will be to devise an action plan for the Adoption and Migration of Government Platforms to Open Source Software.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago looks to Modern Software to manage Foreign Reserves

NEW YORK Jan 31 2018 SimCorp, a leading provider of investment management solutions and services to the global financial services industry, today announces that the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago has signed a partnership agreement with SimCorp North America. The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago will implement SimCorp Dimension to manage the investment operation of the country's US$8.4 billion foreign exchange reserves.

The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago has continually sought to evolve its operations throughout the decades, in order to meet global best practice. The implementation of SimCorp Dimension will further this endeavor, serving the central bank with a highly standardized solution for its foreign exchange reserve operations. SimCorp's automated investment solution will deliver full front to back office support in one integrated system.

Operating amidst increasing market complexity, the central bank will benefit from SimCorp Dimension's scalable solution with minimal need for customization. Straight Through Processing (STP) and exception based workflows will provide the front, middle and back offices with transparent and streamlined management of the country's foreign exchange reserves.

Advanced front office functionality features a significant part of the central bank's operational overhaul. It will enable the efficient management of cash transactions and the processing of SWIFT formatted cash transfers. Trade entry optimization and pre/post trade compliance will form other important functions, for instance enabling the front office with automatic alerts on threshold breaches. With its centralized Investment Book of Record (IBOR), SimCorp Dimension will serve the central bank with a single source of accurate and timely data for performance measurement, risk assessment and portfolio management, providing a unified view across asset classes.

As part of the agreement, SimCorp will deliver the following functionality to the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago:
  • IBOR to support investment decision making, improved risk management and stakeholder reporting
  • Processing and optimization of trade entry
  • Transparent pre/post trade compliance
  • Cash forecasting
  • Reconciliation and exception management
  • Event management and drill down
  • Full instrument coverage for the entire investment lifecycle
  • Straight through processing (STP) across workflows including; trade management, transaction workflow monitoring, processing of settlement instructions and reconciliation matching
  • Portfolio management, including the ability to define and differentiate portfolios by objectives, e.g. liquidity and investment portfolios
  • Comprehensive chart of accounts in both reporting and base currency (the United States Dollar)
  • SWIFT settlement processing
  • Complete and fully traceable audit trail for all reporting requirements
The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago said
We are pleased to partner with SimCorp. A critical criteria for our rigorous evaluation and decision process, was to partner with a firm that offered a standardized solution with little need for customization, to support our entire investment lifecycle. SimCorp Dimension stood out in our evaluation for the level of automation provided for Straight Through Processing, across the front, middle and back offices.
James Corrigan, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, SimCorp North America commented
It is a privilege to welcome the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago into our established community. The partnership underlines SimCorp's ability to deliver a best-in-class solution to central banks around the globe. This, together with our consolidated approach to investment management, more than meets the needs of banking institutions, empowering them with greater control and agility, to compete on a global scale.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Dynamic Spectrum Alliance welcomes TATT's TV White Space Framework

Trinidad and Tobago, 6 February 2018: The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) has congratulated the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago for publishing the Authorisation Framework for the Accommodation of White Space Radiocommunications Devices. After receiving expressions of interest for the use of White Space devices across the country, the Authority has outlined the technical and operational rules for their deployment. This marks a huge step forward for Trinidad and Tobago and will enable its people to benefit from White Space technology to provide broadband connectivity and other innovative solutions, such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, to underserved areas.

The framework protects incumbent services operating in bands that will be made available for White Space device operations and reassures potential users that a carefully planned and regulated environment has been created before deployment begins. Using dynamic spectrum access approaches, White Space devices access spectrum that may be available at a particular location or at a particular time, in bands currently allocated to other radiocommunications services.

“TV White Space technology can play a key part of an overall communications solutions set, largely because of its ability to inexpensively deliver broadband and other forms of connectivity over large geographical areas. It has already been deployed in several projects all over the world, growing in recognition every year. We congratulate the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago for recognising TV White Space technology as being an alternative to mainstream technologies to meet the demand for broadband connectivity, connect the unconnected and provide ubiquitous mobility.”

The framework is a subset of the Authority’s National Spectrum Plan, which provides a structure to regulate the efficient use of spectrum, in an orderly manner, in accordance with the Authority’s mandate. The framework’s objectives include: identifying the frequency bands that can accommodate White Space devices; establish rules for the operation of White Space devices in Trinidad and Tobago; setting rules for the approval of database administrators to operate in Trinidad and Tobago and establish a regulatory framework for licensing White Space devices.

For more information about the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, please visit: http://dynamicspectrumalliance.org/.

The Dynamic Spectrum Alliance’s Sixth Annual Global Summit will take place May 1-3, 2018 in London. To find out more, or to register, visit: http://dynamicspectrumalliance.org/global-summit/