Managers More Positive about Flexible Working and Working from Home – New Study.

Managers are much more positive about flexible working and staff working from home since the pandemic – says new study.

Managers are much more positive about their staff working from home and working flexibly since lockdown says a new study undertaken jointly by the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham and the Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance at the University of Kent.

The report titled ‘Managing Employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Flexible working and the future of work’ is based on a UK wide survey with managers which aimed to understand the organisational perspective on managing homeworking since the UK COVID-19 lockdown. During the COVID-19 lockdown, many organisations have been forced to move the majority of their workforce to remote working, often at very short notice. In many cases, these businesses had previously discouraged flexible working and had ‘very little infrastructure in place to support these new ways of working. The question arises, what impact did this shift to homeworking have and what does this mean for the future of work?

To answer this question, the research team undertook a survey of managers between the 24th July to 11th August 2020. The sample consisted of managers from across the UK, an array of industries and all levels of management. In total, 742 managers completed the survey which involved questions around norms for working from home, attitudes toward working from home, trust, key learning experience what tools the organisation supplied to employees to enable them to work from home and what support was made available to the employees.

As the first academic piece of research exploring managerial experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, this research discovered that 54.7% of managers reported over 80% of their employees have been working from home since lockdown. As a result of their management experiences during lockdown, fewer managers now believe that presenteeism and long working hours are essential to career progression within organisations. Many managers also reported that working from home increases productivity, concentration, and motivation due to their experiences in lockdown. 58.6% of managers surveyed said that working from home increases productivity whereas only 44.1% agreed with this statement before lockdown.

However, managers also saw some drawbacks, with 58.7% of all those surveyed saying that working from home lead to isolation, and other citing issues around blurring of boundaries as key negative outcomes. Regardless, most managers now believe working from home will become much more commonplace in the future, with more jobs, including senior roles, being advertised as being available for flexible working and more support being made available for home working.

Commenting on the report Dr Holly Birkett, Co-Director of the Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham said:

“The report shows managers are much more positive about working from home and flexible working than they were before the pandemic.  Managers say their organisations are going to be more supportive of homeworking and flexible working in the future, including more likely to support working from home, job shares and part-time working even for Senior roles. This change along with the breakdown of the presenteeism culture and the removal of a flexibility stigma, which existed before COVID -19, could help improve employee wellbeing, help to support people to take on caring roles and break down many of the barriers women face to balancing career and family, with the potential to improve female representation on Boards and close the gender pay gap.”

Overall, the data included in the report has shown that working from home has been commonplace since the initial lockdown and managers have faced a steep learning curve regarding how to manage remote teams often with very little support or guidance.

Despite this, managers have been pleasantly surprised about the results with their teams generally performing really well during this time. While there have been some performance issues these were generally where this was already an issue prior to lockdown.

Dr Sarah Forbes, Co-Director of the Equal Parenting Project said: “Due to positive experiences of working from home and with flexible working patterns amongst their staff, managers are keen to support more working from home and flexible working in the future. This could take the form of better flexible working policies and tools to facilitate this as well as training being readily available for managers to learn how to better support remote workers in their team. However, we also need to understand working remotely over long periods of time can also be very isolating and that some people much prefer working in an office environment.”

Dr Heejung Chung, Principal Investigator of the Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-Life Balance Project at the University of Kent said: “As we have also seen in our previous employee survey, the flexible working genie is out of the bottle – more workers want to work flexibly in the future, and as this report has shown, managers now see how flexible working can benefit companies. However, that shift will not be the same for all companies and for all workers. Government policies to help make that cultural shift, by introducing stronger rights to flexible working and better protection against discrimination for flexible workers may help this transition go smoothly after the COVID-19 lockdown measures end.

The full findings and wider recommendation of the report will be announced by Dr Sarah Forbes, Dr Holly Birkett and Dr Heejung Chung at a webinar on 26th November 2020 which has been organised by the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business at the University of Birmingham.

The webinar will also have presentations by Lauren Adams, HR Director at CBI, Daisy Hooper, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at CMI, and Anthony Fitzpatrick, Employee Relations and Global Employment Policy Lead at Aviva will deliver organisational and managers’ perspectives on experiences of remote working during the pandemic and how these experiences are likely to change the future of work.

Playstation 5 Launch, Sony Interactive Entertainment Lights up Landmarks Across the World

To celebrate the launch, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has a number of activations happening across the globe, and in London, including:

  • Lighting up iconic buildings and popular sites in 25 places around the world
  • The takeover of London’s Oxford Street Underground Station, where the iconic Tube roundels have been reimagined to feature the four iconic PlayStation shapes
  • Key tube station takeovers at Mile End, Lancaster Gate, West Ham and Seven Sisters

You can read about the PS5 here

SIE is welcoming this new generation of gaming by lighting up iconic buildings and popular sites in 25 territories around the world, projecting images of the PlayStation® shapes, the PS5 console, the DualSense wireless controller, and other PlayStation brand imagery. The projections which started on the 12th November saw activations in cities including  Tokyo, New York, Auckland, Toronto, Seoul and Mexico City, with more iconic sites being lit up this week to celebrate the launch.

Take a look at the images below to see how Sony have celebrated worldwide!

Times Square - PS5 Launch
Times Square – PS5 Launch
Taiwan - PS5 Launch
Taiwan – PS5 Launch
Switzerland PS5 Launch
Switzerland PS5 Launch
New Zealand PS5 Launch
New Zealand PS5 Launch
Dublin PS5 Launch
Dublin PS5 Launch
Dubai PS5 Launch
Dubai PS5 Launch
Brazil PS5 Launch
Brazil PS5 Launch
London PS5 Launch
London PS5 Launch

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The First Fully Antibacterial Smartphone Announced

Bullitt Group, the global licensee for Cat® phones, today announced that the Cat S42 has been enhanced by advanced antimicrobial product protection, making it the first anti-bacterial phone. Every exterior component of the product has been treated with Biomaster® antimicrobial technology and tested to ISO 22196.

Based on the inclusion of silver ions during manufacturing, the process creates a permanent level of product protection, inhibiting the growth of microbes on the phone surface and therefore reducing microbial levels on the surface.

The S42 can be cleaned with soap and water
The S42 can be cleaned with soap and water

Research shows that our phones are home to thousands of germs, with a University of Michigan study1 finding in excess of 17,000 bacteria on handsets. We interact with our mobile devices many times a day – around 47 times, on average, according to research from Deloitte2. Mobile phones are handled and pressed to our faces, meaning that any bacteria or other microorganisms can easily transfer back and forth between the hard surfaces of your phone and your skin.

Bacteria found on mobile phone, SEM
Bacteria found on mobile phone. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of bacteria cultured from a mobile phone.

The Biomaster active antimicrobial agent is proven to inhibit bacteria cells from replicating. In testing, a reduction of over 80% within 15 minutes was shown and 99.9% within 24 hours. Combined with the existing Cat phone rugged credentials that ensure the device can be thoroughly and regularly washed with soaps and water, sanitisers, and even bleach, the Cat S42 represents the next generation of hygienic product protection in smartphone design.

Bacteria found on mobile phone, SEM
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of bacteria cultured from a mobile phone.

“Throughout 2020 we have consistently been driving awareness of the importance of mobile hygiene for us all, but this is vital for those among our customers working within a health or social care setting, and those visiting multiple sites for their job,” said Peter Cunningham, VP Product Portfolio at Bullitt Group. “Using a Cat phone already allows them to have confidence that they can wash and sanitise their Cat phone regularly or between visits. The addition of antimicrobial product protection into the Cat S42 is another first for Cat phones, and will make the Cat S42 safer for users – such an important feature in the current climate.”

The Biomaster-treated Cat S42 will be available from early 2021, with the treatment coming to other devices in the Cat phones range later in the year.

The CAT S42 Can be washed under a tap
The CAT S42 Can be washed under a tap

Tested to Cat phones’ demanding rugged standards, the Cat S42 features MIL SPEC 810H and IP68 and IP69 ratings, and surpasses our rigourous and repeated drop testing from 1.8m onto steel, including multiple drops onto every side and corner. It’s fully waterproof, tested submerged in water at depths up to 1.5m for 35 minutes. Like all Cat smartphones in the range, it is also put through vibration and tumble tests, salt mist conditions, and it’s built to operate in high and low extremes of temperature and to survive thermal shocks. Take it with you anywhere and everywhere. It’s built tough to help you thrive in challenging outdoor work situations and extreme leisure pursuits alike.

The CAT S42 Can be washed under a tap
The CAT S42 Can be washed under a tap

The Cat S42 smartphone has an MSRP of £229 / €249. The S42 with antimicrobial protection will be available in early 2021. For more information visit www.catphones.com.

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Gadget Man – Episode 171 – Fans and Sony Celebrate as the PS5 Launches in the UK

It’s a day of celebration for gaming fans as Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) launches its next-generation console, PlayStation®5 (PS5™), in the UK.

Today, I spoke to James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk about the new console, listen in to the attached audio to hear more, otherwise, read on!

“Today marks a historic moment for the PlayStation brand, and all of us at SIE are pleased to celebrate the release of PlayStation 5 together with our community of fans, game developers, and industry partners,” said Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Spiderman Mile Morales PS5
Spiderman Mile Morales PS5

“PS5 is a truly next-generation console representing the beginning of a new era for gaming. I’m thrilled for the new worlds that players will begin to experience today, and I’m equally excited for the lineup of games still to come for PS5 that will continue to propel the gameplay experience forward. We are humbled to work with a talented community of world-class game developers. Their creativity will bring limitless possibilities to what the future of gaming can look like on PS5.”

Fans and Sony Celebrate as the PS5 Launches in the UK
Fans and Sony Celebrate as the PS5 Launches in the UK

SIE is welcoming this new generation of gaming by lighting up iconic buildings and popular sites in 25 territories around the world, projecting images of the PlayStation® shapes, the PS5 console, the DualSense wireless controller, and other PlayStation brand imagery. The projections which started on the 12th November saw activations in cities including  Tokyo, New York, Auckland, Toronto, Seoul and Mexico City, with more iconic sites being lit up this week to celebrate the launch.

Playstation 5 Digital Edition
Playstation 5 Digital Edition

The PS5 Digital Edition will be available for a recommended retail price (RRP) of £349.99 and PS5 with an Ultra HD Blu-ray™ disc drive will be available for an RRP of £449.99. . With the exception of the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive, both PS5 models offer the same specifications, so players will enjoy the same transformative gameplay experiences regardless of which PS5 they choose.

Playstation 5
Playstation 5

The breadth of PlayStation 5’s game library represents the best lineup in PlayStation console history, led by launch day titles from SIE Worldwide Studios, including Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Astro’s Playroom. PS5 owners can enjoy more than three dozen new games this holiday, including highly anticipated games from SIE’s publishing partners such as Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War (Activision), Fortnite (Epic Games), FIFA 21 (EA), NBA 2K21 (2K), Godfall (Gearbox Publishing), Watch Dogs®: Legion and Assassin’s Creed® Valhalla (Ubisoft), and many more. Meanwhile, new titles from independent developers, such as Bugsnax (Young Horses) and The Pathless (Giant Squid/Annapurna Interactive) demonstrate the breadth of diverse content coming to PS5.

Spiderman Mile Morales PS5
Spiderman Mile Morales PS5

PS5 owners can look forward to even more incredible games coming soon. Upcoming Worldwide Studios exclusives include Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal, Destruction AllStars, Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and a new God of War game. Additional games launching first on PS5 include DEATHLOOP™ from Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks, Ghostwire™: Tokyo from Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks, Project Athia (Working Title) from Luminous Productions/Square Enix, and Final Fantasy® XVI from Square Enix. Resident Evil™ Village from Capcom and Hogwarts Legacy from Warner Bros. Games round out the lineup of highly anticipated PS5 titles.

Sackboy on PS5
Sackboy on PS5

At launch, this November, PlayStation Plus members can enjoy a curated lineup of 20 PlayStation®4 games that defined the generation with the PlayStation Plus Collection*, available to download and play on PlayStation 5. The PlayStation Plus Collection features critically acclaimed games, including Batman™: Arkham Knight, Bloodborne, Call of Duty®: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicle Edition, Fallout® 4, God of War, Monster Hunter: World, Final Fantasy®XVResident Evil®7 Biohazard, Persona 5, The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and more.

Spiderman Mile Morales PS5
Spiderman Mile Morales PS5

Inspired by a global community of creators, PS5 will bring players into game worlds with unprecedented speed, visual fidelity and sensory immersion. Gamers will enjoy near-instant load times thanks to PS5’s ultra-high-speed solid-state drive (SSD), as well as breathtaking 4K graphics and silky-smooth gameplay up to 120 frames per second. With the enhanced haptic feedback and adaptive triggers of the DualSense wireless controller and the immersive soundscapes made possible by Tempest 3D AudioTech, PlayStation 5 heightens players’ senses, making them feel transported into their game world.

PS5 Dual Wireless Charging Station
PS5 Dual Wireless Charging Station

In addition to transformative gaming experiences, PlayStation 5 offers plenty of entertainment experiences, with a curated lineup of some of the most popular streaming services** available at launch, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock, Spotify, Twitch, YouTube, and more. There will be a dedicated space exclusively for media entertainment on PlayStation 5, making it fast and easy to switch between games and movie/TV.

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Shure Aonic 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones debut in a New Colour

With Christmas just around the corner, a great sounding pair of noise-cancelling headphones should be at the top of everyone’s list. Whether drowning out background sound while working from home or rocking out to the greatest hits in the back of the family car, noise-cancelling headphones help listeners make the most of the moment.

Expanding users’ choices—and fusing together style + function—Shure is unveiling a new White/Tan colour option of its award-winning AONIC 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones. Also available in Black and Brown, all three colours will be available at a special promotional price of £289 from now through November, that’s a more than a 30% discount!

AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR
AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR

Music and style icons all over the globe have relied on Shure on and off the stage for decades – Adam Levine, J Balvin, and Jennifer Lopez just to name a few. They—along with Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, and others—have trusted Shure microphones and gear in the studio and on stages worldwide.

“Shure has an impressive history of creating headphones for the professional audio industry – people who wear them all day for a living – so creating comfortable, high-quality headphones for anyone, including consumers, is in the Shure DNA,” said Eduardo Valdes, Senior Director, Global Marketing, Musician and Consumer Audio, at Shure. “Now, with Shure’s AONIC 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, music lovers can also experience that same quality of audio wherever they may be. The additional colour choices fit into consumers’ style and aesthetic – no matter their preference.”

AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR
AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR

When it comes to headphones, consumers expect audio that is high-quality, clear, and an accurate reflection of the artist they’re listening to. But today, headphones can also represent your personality and style. The addition of the gorgeous White/Tan colour completes the aesthetic portfolio of AONIC 50, giving listeners even more ways to express themselves.

AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR
AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR

Built To Provide Studio-Quality Audio For Work and Play

Engineered from decades of stage and studio experience, AONIC 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones deliver a premium listening experience with exceptional comfort and durability. Shure’s first wireless headphones, AONIC 50, feature adjustable noise cancellation to help block distractions for a truly immersive experience with the flip of a switch. Users who want to interact with the world around them can activate Environment Mode to hear immediate surroundings.

Up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge provides a week of use without needing to recharge. Fingertip controls provide quick access to answer calls, adjust volume, or pause music with a push of a button. AONIC 50 Wireless Headphones offer Bluetooth® 5 wireless technology for enhanced stability and a range of up to 30 feet. Featuring a dedicated, high-performance headphone amplifier, AONIC 50 supports popular audio codecs, including Qualcomm® aptX™, aptX™ HD, aptX™ Low Latency audio, Sony LDAC, AAC, and SBC.

AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR
AONIC 50 WIRELESS NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES DEBUT IN A NEW COLOUR

When Bluetooth isn’t an option, AONIC 50 Wireless Headphones can connect to wired sources with a 3.5mm analogue audio input to ensure an uninterrupted connection to any device.

Shure’s AONIC 50 headphones are a precise blend of cutting-edge technology and tried-and-true design. Developed with comfort in mind, the sleek, modern AONIC 50 is beautifully crafted with elegant stitching on an adjustable headband for precise ear-to-ear fit, ensuring users get the most out of each listening session. The earpads and underside of the headband are cushioned with plush memory foam and lined for outstanding comfort while taking long calls from home or while on-the-go.

Customisable Listening Experience with the ShurePlus PLAY App

When paired with the free ShurePlus PLAY App, listeners can personalize their noise cancellation and Environment Mode levels. Available for iOS and Android, the PLAY app is also a full-featured music player with EQ, supporting standard and hi-res music files.

In addition to the feature controls, the PLAY app lets users customize tone and voice prompts for important notifications, like power on/off, connection confirmation, and low battery. It can also be used to upgrade firmware for AONIC 50 headphones.

The limited-time promotional pricing is effective for all AONIC 50 Wireless Headphones (Black, Brown, White/Tan) now through November 30.

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Cat S62 Pro Smartphone Reveals Potential Fire Risks from Working from Home

The possible electrical dangers faced by Britain’s army of home workers are today revealed with the help of mobile thermal imaging technology.

For millions of us, our homes are now our offices, but very few of us are aware of potential electrical safety hazards in our home-office setups or how to ensure we safely accommodate the equipment we use every day.

Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone (Thermal)
Laptop and Phone
Laptop and Phone

These images, captured with the new Cat S62 Pro thermal imaging smartphone, show the fire risks that poorly thought-through domestic office setups can cause.

Bullitt Group, the makers of the Cat S62 Pro, have partnered with Electrical Safety First to highlight the issue and offer tips and advice on how to make your home office set up safer.

The gallery of images, captured in a home working environment, shows the varying levels of heat invisible to the naked eye that is produced by different electrical setups and devices. The images show common habits including:

  •      Charging laptops and phones on flammable surfaces
  •      Stacking equipment due to lack of space
  •      Daisy-chaining extension leads because you’ve got more to plug in than usual
  •      Overloaded sockets
  •      Routers covered with office materials / or boxed in
  •      Extension cables covered with household items

Working from home is now commonplace but little thought is given to the set-up of our temporary work desks, many just working wherever there is space.

New research commissioned by Bullitt Group, shows electrical safety checks by employers have dropped by nearly half (a decrease of 46%) since lockdown.

The research, compiled by Censuswide using a 2k sample of people working at home due to COVID, also shows:

  •      Many home workers surveyed (41%) operate in cramped workspaces and things often get piled on top of extension units
  •      Over a third don’t have enough plug sockets (36%)
  •      Over a third say that have to daisy chain extension cables to get the length they need (35%)
  •      There is a high level of complacency around electrical safety with more than half (56%) of respondents saying they are not worried about electrical dangers
  •      When asked about where they currently work, more than a third (36%) say they often move their laptop and charger around as they work in different spots
  •      Almost a third (30%) have never considered the dangers of working in some domestic spaces
  •      23% are sharing electrical sockets for work with other domestic items
  •      21% do not have a dedicated workspace at home and 19% feel the quality of work is affected by not having a dedicated workspace

Working closely with Electrical Safety First, Bullitt Group has come up with some simple guidelines to make the home office environment safer.

Key tips include:

  •      Avoid overloading sockets
  •      Do not leave phones or laptops plugged in to charge overnight and don’t charge on a bed – always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable  surface
  •      Don’t “daisy chain” extension leads. If your cable doesn’t reach, don’t plug it into another adaptor. Move your workspace closer to the socket or use a longer lead
  •      Regularly check electrical cords and extension cords for damage
  •      Only use extension cords on a temporary basis
  •      Do not plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip
  •      Do not run cords under rugs/carpets, doors, or windows
  •      Make sure cords do not become tripping hazards
  •      Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least 1m away from space heaters and other heat sources
  •      Make sure you use the right wattage for lamps/lighting
  •      Only use chargers provided with the product and buy any replacements from reputable retailers you know and trust
  •      Keep your work area tidy and keep drinks away from electrical items
  •      Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Test them monthly and replace the unit every 10 years or as directed by the manufacturer

“When the country first locked down, homeworking was seen as a temporary situation. Now it’s looking more long term, it’s important that both employers and employees are fully aware of the risks and how to mitigate them,” said Nathan Vautier, CEO at Bullitt Group.

“The thermal imaging technology built into the S62 Pro is a quick and simple way to see a world that’s invisible to the naked eye and can improve safety in any working environment.  Tradesmen have used our thermal phones to spot electrical faults and issues for some years, but this is also a genuinely useful tool for anyone who wants to improve safety and monitor what’s going on with electrical equipment in their homes,” continued Vautier.

A spokesman for Electrical Safety First said: “There is simply not enough awareness out there about the possible dangers of poorly set up home office environments. Thermal technology is certainly one way to monitor electrical equipment for overheating issues and the images that Cat phones have created here show very clearly just what is going on and highlight some of the common dangers we regularly warn people against.”

Other survey results:

  • Before lockdown, 40% of respondents’ companies had a procedure in place to regularly check electrical items. This has now dropped to just 22% since working from home began
  • Almost a third (31%) feel their employer should be doing more to provide safety and other guidance about home working
  • Only 19% have received safety advice/guidance from their employer concerning their home working set up
  • Almost half (45%) don’t know when work specific electrical items were last safety checked

The Cat S62 Pro smartphone has an MSRP of £599 and is available to buy from Amazon and multiple retailers and operators.

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New Podcast Series explores Shakespeare’s place in the 21st Century

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that promotes the works, life and times of William Shakespeare in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, is launching a new podcast series exploring Shakespeare’s place in the modern world.

Titled Shakespeare Alive, the six-part podcast series launches on Tuesday, 17 November and is hosted by the Trust’s Shakespeare experts Dr Paul Edmondson and Dr Anjna Chouhan. Taking a fresh perspective on conversations about Shakespeare, Paul and Anjna’s guests include theatre professionals and artists from around the world discussing their relationships with Shakespeare, and his relevance in society today.

Thanks to support from Arts Council England, Shakespeare Alive is available for free and is accessible across a number of podcast platforms including Apple, Google and Spotify, and on the Trust’s website shakespeare.org.uk/shakespeare-alive.

Kicking-off the series is a captivating discussion about multi-racial casting in Shakespeare, featuring Dr Farah Karim-Cooper of Shakespeare’s Globe. In this first episode, Karim-Cooper’s discussion includes considering the treatment of race in Shakespeare’s plays and how this might be interpreted by audiences.

Paul Taylor, acting director of cultural engagement at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised a need to adapt and explore new ways of connecting with audiences via digital channels. With the support of Arts Council England, we are pleased to be able to produce digital content that brings Shakespeare’s culture and his continuing relevance to a contemporary audience in the comfort of their homes. We hope that this podcast will be a compelling source of interest and inspiration to our listeners, especially during these challenging times.”

New podcast series explores Shakespeare’s place in the 21st century
Shakespeare Alive is available for free and is accessible across a number of podcast platforms

Shakespeare Alive episode guide:

Shakespeare and Race, with Dr Farah Karim-Cooper – Shakespeare’s Globe

Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, Head of Higher Education and Research at Shakespeare’s Globe, talks to Paul Edmondson about her first encounter with Shakespeare, her experiences of academia and her work on the Shakespeare and Race festival.

Illustrating Shakespeare, with Mya Gosling – Good Tickle Brain

Mastermind of the comic brand, Good Tickle Brain, Mya Gosling talks to Anjna Chouhan about breaking down barriers and making Shakespeare accessible and fun, through irreverence and illustration.

Becoming Othello, with Debra Ann Byrd – The Harlem Shakespeare Festival

The Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival talks to Paul Edmondson about why she founded her company, and the inspiration for her important memoir: Becoming Othello, A Black Girl’s Journey.

Resurrecting Shakespeare, with Victoria Baumgartner – Will & Co

Founder of theatre company Will & Co, Victoria Baumgartner, talks to Anjna Chouhan about her successful play, Will, and all about her ground-breaking project, Bard in the Yard, to bring Shakespeare to audiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Directing Shakespeare, with Gregory Doran – The Royal Shakespeare Company

The Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Gregory Doran, talks to Paul Edmondson about what made him a Shakespearian and what that means to him personally, and to the company. They also discuss cross-gendered casting, and how theatrical performance brings Shakespeare to life in our own time and culture.

Reviewing Shakespeare, with Nathan and Simon Dowling – The Break a Leggers

YouTube vlogging sensations, Nathan and Simon Dowling of The Break a Leggers, talk to Anjna Chouhan about their experiences of reviewing theatre and their expectations of watching live Shakespeare in the modern world.

Shakespeare Alive is produced by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and supported by Arts Council England. For more information, see www.shakespeare.org.uk/shakespeare-alive

Shure Unveils MV5C Home Office Microphone Designed for Professionals who Require Pristine Audio

Latest Addition to MOTIV Microphone Line Provides Consistent Audio for Important Meetings

Executives presenting to leadership, sales teams pitching to a new client, and teachers tackling the world of distance-learning, all demand one thing in this new age of virtual collaboration: crystal clear audio that allows them to speak confidently while delivering their message. To support the needs of this new working environment, Shure launched the MV5C Home Office Microphone, which provides optimal audio quality by prioritising the user’s voice and not the environment. The ideal solution for working-from-home professionals, the sleek digital microphone provides clear audio for conferencing and video calls from any home office, without the need to wear headphones.

Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone
Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone

“With nearly everything now operating from home—TV productions, education, health and wellness, and our everyday work—we quickly realized the need for improved audio in these settings,” said John Born, Senior Global Product Manager at Shure.

“The MV5C provides drastically better sound from a brand that professionals have been trusting for decades to support their biggest moments on stage. In the simplest and most concise way, you can now have the confidence that your message, presentation, or story, is being heard loud and clear.”

Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone
Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone

One-Step Set-Up
User set-up is intentionally simplified, so professionals of all levels can unbox the MV5C, plug it into their computer, and that’s it. The set-up also provides different audio modes for “set it and forget it” applications. Headphones are optional, allowing users to take a break and listen through the computer’s built-in speaker or external speakers. The microphone is compatible with Mac or Windows devices by using the supplied USB-A or USB-C cables for a direct connection.

Studio-Quality Sound for the Home Office
Out-of-the-box, the MV5C is a directional microphone and features Shure’s Speech Enhancement Mode to enhance the user’s voice on audio or video calls for even clearer sound. Users can speak with assurance knowing that their voice will be heard clearly during virtual pitches, presentations, and lessons without having to repeat themselves or be asked to talk louder.

Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone
Shure launches the MV5C Home Office Microphone

Retro-Inspired Design
The MV5C features a sleek, compact design that easily fits on any desk for a powerful solution that offers studio-quality sound. The fully adjustable desk mount stand allows users to easily tilt the position of the MV5C toward the talker’s mouth. The MV5C is a home audio upgrade to help professionals speak more confidently, knowing they will be clearly heard on the other end of the call.
The MV5C Home Office Microphone is available for purchase at select retailers and at www.shure.com for £115 GBP.

Shure’s range can also be purchased on their Shure Amazon Store

Gadget Man – Media Project – I made a music ‘Fan Video’ – DTALM – Smile

I’ve been recently listening to the Melodic Progressive Station on DI.FM. DI.FM was one of the first online radio networks to go live in 1999, DI.FM has grown into a destination and lifestyle for over 3 million unique listeners who tune in every month.

Sometimes a track jumps out as being a bit special and from there you go looking for it.

One such track for me, is ‘Smile’ by DTALM.

Smile is a really catchy and happy track and it’s particularly popular with my son James. Currently, the track doesn’t have a video, so armed with an excuse to hone my Adobe Premiere editing skills, I set about making one myself.

Smile - YouTube cover photo
Smile – YouTube cover photo

The cover-photo for the track on YouTube features someone standing facing a field of flowers, so I wanted to incorporate that idea into the beginning and end of the video, but my main theme was going to be showing lots of people smiling for all sorts of reasons.

Fortunately, there is an amazing library of free video clips available at Pexels.com, now ‘free’ is a pretty vague term, but Pexels make this very clear with the following terms and conditions.

  • All photos and videos on Pexels are free to use.
  •  Attribution is not required. Giving credit to the photographer or Pexels is not necessary but always appreciated.
  •  You can modify the photos and videos from Pexels. Be creative and edit them as you like.

Armed with a website with thousands of high-quality videos, I set about searching for ‘smiling’ people.

Searching for a smile on Pexels.com
Searching for a smile on Pexels.com

As you can see, my search returns lots of videos, in fact, LOADS of results! This was good news because I wanted videos that had clips of at least 4 seconds, was at least 1920 x 1080 (which included ‘vertical video’ of 2304 in width) and showed very happy people.

This seemed doable, although a bit of rudimentary maths told me I might need about NINETY clips to fill the six-minute video. Having spent quite a bit of time finding clips and downloading them, I then set about assembling it all into an Adobe Premiere CC project.

DTALM Smile - Adobe Premiere CC Project
DTALM Smile – Adobe Premiere CC Project

Having cut each clip down to about 4 seconds, I then resized it where necessary, colour graded (if it needed a tweak) and in some cases slowed it down using Premiere’s Speed/Duration Tool with using Optical-Flow to smooth the slow-motion footage. As planned I started the video with a lady walking through a field and ended with another lady walking through another field with her little girl. All the other clips with shoehorned in between.

DTALM - Smile - Play head
DTALM – Smile – Completed Track

I then did some small edits for timing and then published the video using Premiere’s ‘YouTube 1080p Full HD’ setting via Adobe Media Encoder.

Now, obviously, I don’t own the rights to the music, however, YouTube has a very able system in place to ensure that the correct attribution is made automatically. This can sometimes result in the video not being available in some territories or the rights owner can monetise the video for their own gain. Obviously, I was happy for this to happen as I wasn’t responsible for the hard-work creating the track. I was maybe a little bit more nervous about getting a copyright-strike! Thankfully, this didn’t happen and upon uploading, the video was immediately flagged for the correct copyright attribution and remains available to play (see below).

As a matter of courtesy, I contacted DTALM and let them know I had made the ‘Fan Video’ with a link to it. I received an amazing reply!

DTALM Reply
DTALM Reply

So, having waded through my ‘waffle’, please enjoy, my music video for Smile, by DTALM

You can buy Smile by DTALM from Amazon, using the links below.

If you click through Amazon links on our website, we may be paid a commission.

Kebao Air 3: Game-Changing air purification comes to the UK

Poor air quality has become one of the largest environmental risks to the health of people of the United Kingdom and with the Coronavirus Pandemic, it has become more important than ever that we breathe healthy air that is free from harmful particles and unpleasant viruses.

So, it was incredibly timely that I was recently contacted by Kebao to test their new ‘filterless’ air purifier, namely the Kebao Air 3.

The Air 3 combines sleek design with cutting edge technology, which in turn completely eliminates 99.99% of airborne pollutants, viruses, bacteria and allergens and consequently provides ‘Surgical Grade’ air and deodorisation.

Instead of using standard High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that can capture particulate matter of 0.3 microns or larger with 99.95% efficiency (a human hair is between 17 and 181 microns), the Kebao Air 3 is capable of eliminating particles down to a size of 0.01 microns. This is a big deal because COVID19 particles are around 0.12 microns in size, small enough to pass through a HEPA filter, but the too big to pass through the Air 3!

Kebao Air 3 is now available on Amazon
Kebao Air 3 – now available to buy on Amazon

The Kebao Air 3 does this using a brand-new type of 5-stage filtration. Stage 1 is a pre-filter which removes larger particles from the air and can be cleaned and reused for the lifetime of the product. Stage 2 uses a high-voltage negative charge to deactivate viruses and bacteria and retains the debris on charged plates stopping re-release. Stage 3 using a mind-blowing ‘Photocatalytic Oxidisation’ based on Albert Einstein’s ‘Photon Energy’. UV light initiates a stepwise free radical decomposition of organic compounds, which produces water and carbon dioxide as a by-product. The Air 3 has 48 LED bulbs and a Ti02 alumina ceramic photocatalytic ozone-free filter. Stage 4 uses 4kg of loose granulated carbon, impregnated with amines which absorb and decomposes any harmful gasses. Stage 5 Surgical grade, deodorised air is circulated through you room clear of 99.99% of harmful particulates!

The display shows PM2.5 and TVOC readings
The display shows PM2.5 and TVOC readings!

The display shows air quality in two readings, the first two numbers are the temperature and humidity, the second set is PM2.5 and TVOC readings. PM2.5 is a measure of the number of particles less than 2.5 microns in size and are caused by burning fuel, chemical reactions and forest fires. PM2.5 particles are very unhealthy, causing eye, nose and throat irritations, coughing, sneezing and shortness of breath. They can also cause asthma, chronic bronchitis and heart disease. In the UK, air must remain below 25, the WHO recommends below 10, London’s average is 10, my house is currently 1 after having the Air 3 running for over a week!

The second setting is TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compound) which is another way of measuring air quality, again this was negligible at 0.02 after a week of running.

The Kebao Air 3 is both sleek and quiet
The Kebao Air 3 is both sleek and quiet

All of this amazing technology comes at a price. The unit is aimed at commercial enterprises who want to keep their staff and customers safe, so it would suit a restaurant or office space as it is actively cleaning the air the whole time. The price of £1680 reflects a premium commercial product, but I can honestly see it becoming something of a norm in the UK especially due to the current crisis!

It is available to buy on Amazon via the link below, we may earn a commission for sales made through these links

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