Posted by & filed under Hot Topics, Social.

From unconventional computing by slime mould to mainstream future?

Just as the world seems settled in its mastery of all things digital with a basic menu of silicon chips, the boffins at work on new and unconventional computing methods look set to give us all another massive shake-up.

A book published in 2012 is being given new exposure as some of its ideas are coming to fruition. Totally Wired: The Wild Rise and Crazy Fall of the First Dotcom Dream by Andrew Smith has been given the Sunday Times makeover.

With a headline, ‘Silicon chips? So last century. They can’t get any smaller, and they only think in straight lines. What comes next? A weird world where algae, mushrooms and microbes do our computing for us....’ Read more »

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Businesses don’t need their own servers with cloud services


Amazon Web Services (AWB) – the business that nobody has heard of turns out to be the business everyone has – cloud services.

Amazon is a household name up there with McDonalds, Apple and Coca Cola and enjoying sales of around £15bn in a quarter.

Amazon Web Services generated over a billion pounds of that in the same quarter and sales (and profits) are rising.

AWS is clearly an arm of the Amazon giant that bosses feel will becoime ever more important as businesses realise the potential for hiving off more and more infrastructure they cannot run themselves. Read more »

Posted by & filed under General, Social.

A sideline business could rake in the cash

As self-employment continues to rise, as homeworking (at least some of the time) becomes the new norm, so the desire of people to open a sideline business or two really takes hold.

With a fair wind, your sideline business could become mainstream. If not, then it could provide a useful revenue stream supplement.

Remember that these sideline business ideas will not all be suitable for you and they cover a range of interests and career stages from teenage to retired. Some of them are very obvious but often appeal to busy people who would rather pay to have basic jobs done for them

And also remember that if you are in a sideline business the taxman will have a claim of some profits and you may therefore have to fill in a self-assessment tax return. But if so, you can offset profits with some of your legitimate expenses.

So, in no particular order, here we go …

  • Buy a franchise, where somebody already has done it, but you may not want or afford that
  • Be a film extra, lots of waiting around but can be a decent fee per day
  • Rent out your driveway to commuters
  • Rent out a spare room perhaps midweek only to someone who is working locally but goes home at weekends
  • Buy and resell things that take your interest from junk to heirlooms on eBay or similar
  • Bake, often in a niche local market like cupcakes
  • Deliver and serve kids’ party food
  • Entertain kids at their parties, depending on your performance skills
  • Serve romantic dinners served in your house or deliver and serve them
  • Be a personal chef – this takes the one-off romantic dinners a stage further
  • Hire out costumes and accessories – again, try a niche market such as 1920s, hippies, the 80s and use your spare room to store stuff. Remember to take a deposit.
  • Garden, depending on your skills and interests
  • Cut grass, a seasonal, smaller version of the one above.
  • Be an odd job person – annoying little DIY type jobs people tend to leave
  • Train to do plumbing, carpentry, decorating or electrics and the sideline business could become big
  • Knit, embroider, sew – making and repairing
  • Make craft and sell – jewellery, beads, cards, soaps, clothing
  • Plan wedding and special occasions for people
  • Offer admin assistance with projects like extensions, big holidays, major moves
  • Commission photography for events or landmark dates
  • Mind children in the daytimes (you will need official vetting and clearance for this)
  • Babysit in the evenings – if you’re lucky the kids go to bed and you can do work online
  • Be a special police constable, retained firefighters earn a little extra income
  • Pet-sit in the day or evening
  • Walk dogs, which often means walking more than one at once
  • Groom pets in your house or theirs
  • Breed animals and birds
  • Be a mobile hairdresser
  • Be a mobile DJ and music provider for events
  • Sing for special occasions
  • Do stand up comedy for special occasions
  • Make and/or restore furniture – shabby chic is in at the moment
  • Mobile valet and wax cars
  • Do mobile car maintenance, pre MOT checks
  • Launder and iron – take it in dirty, deliver it fresh and crisp
  • Sell home-grown garden produce door to door or from yours
  • Sell eggs from chickens or ducks
  • Sell homegrown flowers made into bouquets and sprays for events
  • Deliver newspapers
  • Frame pictures and photos
  • Deliver homemade sandwiches and good coffees at lunchtimes to nearby businesses
  • Clean houses
  • Clean yards and garages
  • Clear out lofts and attics
  • Be a Gofer – all the errands nobody wants to run
  • Be a Personal Shopper – from the weekly supermarket shop to going round with somebody needing advice
  • Courier parcels
  • Coach and mentor in business and/or life skills
  • Be a Father Christmas – in stores for the season
  • Be a Christmas lights/display installer
  • Moonlight – if you are already a plasterer, carpenter or whatever, you can do a bit of your day job in twilight hours
  • Repackage – some chemicals, foodstuffs, liquids can be bought in bulk and repackaged smaller to sell to a different market (beware health and safety)
  • Do voiceovers for ads – training might be needed to get started
  • Make memories – help the elderly and/or ill to make scrapbooks, albums and records of precious memories
  • Be a funeral comforter – non-religious funerals sometimes need someone to speak in memory of the departed with comforting words
  • Sell collectibles – a niche market of strange things like stamps, matchbox labels, beer bottle labels and old original toys can command eye-watering prices
  • Deal in rare collectible books
  • Deal in collectibles of the famous – music, clothes, posters, ephemera of the 1950s or 60s
  • Buy and sell antiques – be careful you don’t buy something worthless or fake
  • Love auctions – great ways to pick up bargains and shift somewhere else
  • Tutor in maths or English
  • Tutor in adult literacy
  • Tutor in music, depending on your skill
  • Tutor in singing, depending on your skill
  • Tutor in drawing and painting, depending on your skill
  • Tutor in speciality cooking like Thai, Mediterranean, local
  • Tutor in public speaking
  • Tutor in physical exercise, pilates, aerobics
  • Tutor in martial arts, self-defence
  • Tutor in yoga, tai chi and lifestyle
  • Tutor in dancing, tap, ballet, ballroom, contemporary
  • Tutor in personal training for fitness
  • Tutor in bookkeeping and accounts for others
  • Tutor in business planning and bid writing for others
  • Tutor in computer troubleshooting
  • Tutor grannies in computers
  • Tutor in social media
  • Offer your selling techniques to a company not to sell for them but to teach their staff how to sell
  • Sell consultancy – whatever your expertise, from environment to law, from economics to children, people pay for advice and opinion
  • Sell to previous employers – sometimes they pay for advice from a former employee who has done well since leaving them
  • Publicly speak – you do the talks to businesses for awards and training
  • Write speeches and jokes for weddings and other occasions
  • Write poems and letters for those who are not so good with words
  • Write CVs for people and prepare for interviews
  • Be a call centre agent – some companies pay to have cold callers working from home
  • Write content – there are content farms which pay by the word if you meet SEO and keyword targets
  • Write freelance – how-to articles; tragic experience stories sell
  • Proofread – some publishers pay for proofreading to those with a good eye
  • Edit – some publishers pay for editing the writing of others
  • Complete online questionnaires
  • Be a mystery shopping and/or restaurant secret reviewer
  • Blog, supported by ads once you build a readership base
  • Affiliate blogs that grow big with businesses
  • Make a movie that goes viral on YouTube
  • Research for people’s lost relatives, old contacts, business data online
  • Dream of a killer, must-have app that is not yet on the market and develop it
  • Buy into an existing sideline business that has cleared all the early headaches
  • Partner with someone – an invaluable way to share the pains (but also the gains) but often two heads are better than one for a sideline business idea.
  • Finally, start a pyramid selling scheme, but it is not recommended as people sometimes feel conned.
  • Really finally, if you make a go of a sideline business, you can write a book about it and sell that!
  • Absolutely finally, if you make a sideline business that’s successful, you could franchise it to others so they pay you to use your idea and brand.


Posted by & filed under General, Hot Topics.

Student design tackles society’s now and future problems
Student design tackles society’s now and future problems

Student Design Awards from the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) are a shining example of how design is at the forefront of creating the kind of world we want.

From the introduction of the report marking 90 years of the awards it states the awards are ‘a global curriculum and competition that challenges emerging designers to tackle real-world social, economic and environmental issues through design thinking.’

Their goal is to ‘empower a generation of savvy, employable designers who understand the potential of design to benefit society.’

The report highlights two key issues among others:

1. The need for a more democratic approach to creativity – the power to create – where creativity is not unique to select professionals, but is an underused human capacity.
2. Industry now requires designers to be ‘storytellers’ with transferable technical skills and approaches to problem solving. Read more »

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AI in Ex Machina  looks more human than earlier robots

Review about Ex Machina, a film and related issues about the future

If you have ever spent time thinking about the future and artificial intelligence and you haven’t seen the film Ex Machina, you should.

It’s terrifying.

It’s terrifying because the image above is old style robots. The next generation look and sound totally human.

And it’s terrifying in its apparently gentle reasonableness. A young man is employed by a mysterious modern genius to run a Turing test on an attractive and appealing female machine, Ava.

Ex Machina is a thriller, a psychological thriller, a power game as the young man learns more, the older man wants more and the female entity appears to play them off. It’s about intelligence, artificial and human. It’s about trust and lies.

It plays on all the technology we have and that which is surely imminent to set against natural emotions including jealousy, human frailty, sex and love. Just what makes us human? Read more »