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Technology

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This is the time to win our time back.

Wasn’t that first couple of weeks of remote work exciting? Boy howdy we all learned a lot and discovered things they thought were impossible are actually possible.

But one thing has already become way too possible. The ability to act like a time vampire from your colleagues even when you’re not in a shared office. Just as we escaped the clutches of Cheryl knocking on a cubicle divider and immediately launching into a speech whether you were busy or not, the video conference is being used as a way to fill our calendars with back to back meetings all over again.

Video calls are great. A boon for remote work. They’ve proven how connected we can remain when we can’t share a physical space. But seriously, do we need so many of them? To bastardise the old adage:

“That Zoom meeting should have been an email.”

But there’s a perfect answer that the Googles, Microsofts, Zooms and Apples of the world could help solve forevermore. Kill the 30 minute default meeting and crush that default down to 5.

Right now, we aren’t walking from a desk to a conference room. We’re not commuting. We’re not rushing back from some client face to face. We’re all right here, at our desks, trying to get things done. And we can get check-ins done without a lot of the built in waiting time and preamble and wasted moments and just get down to business.

5 minutes. We call, we see each other, we say hi. We check-in about the specific thing that needs checking in on, we say goodbye, we get back to business. We can be enthusiastic about a 5 minute check-in.

By making 5 minutes the default, we put the onus on the person calling the meeting to have a specific reason for extending that time window to something bigger. It becomes an active choice that requires explanation, not the default marker of how much time everyone has the right to steal from the team they work with.

And by making 5 minutes the default, we demand that people show up on time! Running late? You missed it. Meeting is over. Tell your boss what was more important than that sharp 5 minutes of team time.

When we sharpen the time we let people take, we remind each other what our time is worth. A lot.

That’s the discovery most people should be uncovering during our enforced remote work time right now. We can get more focused work done, and focused time is a blessing to deep work and deep productivity. Meetings should be a sacred time to deal with roadblocks that are slowing down the work that gets done when we aren’t in meetings.

A lot of software lets you change the defaults. We can technically make this change ourselves. But like the chrono-thieves they are, the people who love calling too many meetings are never going to change without systemic change.

Our new world order under the book of Zoom is yet another newer format that only lets you define meetings in half hour blocks. No! Enough! Of all things, video should be the sharpest tool in the drawer.

Google. Microsoft. Apple. Zoom. All the rest of you out there doing calendars. The coronavirus crisis is the perfect time to give us our time back. Reset the defaults. 5 minutes at a time. It’s good for today, it’s great for tomorrow.

No, don’t unsubscribe from Byteside! That’s not the experiment!! Seamus has been unsubscribing from all his video streaming services… but he’s still using them all exactly the way he always has. Huh? How’s that work? Listen to find out!

Plus changing NBN plans, those CVC questions, and testing speed upgrades. And playing tabletop roleplaying games over the internet – is there a good way to do it?

All that and Friday Zoom drinks, Audio Technica’s microphone giveaway, and more.

Digital services are blowing up in all kinds of ways, whether becoming the new hotness or collapsing under the weight of all this new work from home traffic. What are we searching for? Efficient work, entertainment or a sense of real connection?

All this plus random acts of kindness, esports replacing real sports, and more.

As the coronavirus crisis continues to worsen, tech has a massive role to play in keeping us together while we’re physically isolating ourselves to avoid the virus.

We look at the places where tech can help, from education to entertainment, and where it is failing. Plus how the world will be different in the adoption of remote presence tech on the other side.

Plenty of that plus a look at the new OS heading to Sonos hardware.

42 years of Megadodo Publications great work, The Hitchhikers Guide, leads off the show with immortal advice for our age.

From there, Nic and Seamus explore the TV adaptation of ‘The Last Of Us’ – Will it be good? And why do we still keep chasing the dream of game-to-filmed-entertainment crossovers when they’ve all been so bad?

Also – should Jack Dorsey leave Twitter? Surely something has to give? Plus we look at the magic of @ Home distributed computing for good, with Folding@Home now working on Covid-19 and SETI@Home closing down (but in a good way).

And finally, what’s the deal with ‘Contagion’ being so popular on Bittorrent right now?

This is the week Seamus loses it over the push to sell us 8K TVs. Don’t miss it!

But first, Seamus and Nic talk about whether Covid-19 will be the moment when remote working and remote presence technologies are permanently elevated beyond novelty or nuisance value. They explore the discovery of fun mobile games and the rediscovery of classic titles and the magic of playing a beloved series again back to back all the way through.

Then Seamus goes spare on 8K, as a long held position based on the science of living room viewing conditions gets added firepower thanks to a Warner Bros double-blind test that leaves nothing to chance. The result? Yes, Seamus feels vindicated and will keep shouting about it as the resolution wars continue.

There’s still a lot of confusing around what 5G is up to, how it fits together and when you should upgrade. So we went to the Head of 5G, Harvey Wright, to ask him the big questions and paint us a clearer picture.

We explore the business questions of how to sell a faster network to folks who feel what they’ve got is ‘fast enough’, what features of a 5G future he’s most excited about, and more technical questions like confusion around mmWave vs sub 6GHz spectrum usage. And why 5G is about a lot more than the phone in your pocket.

And, of course, why he wants you to choose Optus 5G.

Listen here or find the show in your favourite podcast apps and Spotify.

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Today Seamus speaks with Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell AO. She’s a cultural anthropologist who spent two decades at Intel and is known as one of the most important thinkers on technology and culture. She returned to Australia in recent years to create an entirely new school of research at ANU, named 3Ai.

We explore the aims of the new school, why it matters, and what the big issues are for technology in society today. And like any conversation with Professor Bell we get anecdotes from the past to help us understand that where we’re going next isn’t all that new… if only we can learn from the history lessons that can help pave the way…

Find out more about 3Ai: https://3ainstitute.cecs.anu.edu.au/

This week Seamus and Nic explore ten years of iPad, how Sonos is struggling to kill old products, and the return of the Motorola Razr… all somehow revolving around questions of how our tech is meant to evolve, to last and to be the right tool for the right job.

On the ten years of iPad, we think about how we both dismissed it at launch but have had very different perspectives on it in the years since. Has the tablet market grown? Have laptops changed?

Seamus is a massive Sonos nerd so he’s right in the thick of the tension between the need to kill old tech in the name of new features but the faith Sonos lovers have in the company always supporting its speakers. Is there something unique about audio tech that makes it feel wrong to see it die?

Motorola’s new folding screen Razr hits the market in February so we debate if it’s the right kind of folding screen or not, and whether folding screens really are the future.

Plus a look at Activision Blizzard’s new YouTube deal for its esports broadcasts – is this going to hurt Twitch?

Some links related to our conversations:
https://www.ejectejecteject.com/statistics/24-tablet-market-share-statistics-and-analysis/
https://www.imore.com/history-ipad-2010
https://www.imore.com/10-years-gaming-ipad-how-its-changed
https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/27/21083369/apple-ipad-10-years-launch-steve-jobs-tablet-market
https://killedbygoogle.com/

Plus this great thread from Steven Sinofsky:

Send us your thoughts on our amazingly accurate predictions and opinions, or ask us for our thoughts on something that is on your mind. Email via ask@byteside.com or reach out on the socials. @byteside on Twitter, /byteside on Facebook and @TheByteside on Instagram.

And catch Seamus and Nic on Twitter via @seamus and @dr_nic.