We had a nice break this week and headed off to London for the Microsoft event – Future Decoded. It’s a yearly event that started three years ago and we’ve managed to attend all of them so far.
It’s great to get out of the office and see what is going on ( and will be going on in the future) in the world of tech. Microsoft always put on a good event and are so supportive of developers – and there is usually free drinks too 🙂
We decided to go to the Business day as the speakers seemed to be the most interesting and relevant to what we are currently doing. We were particularly excited at the thought of seeing Professor Stephen Hawking! Sadly, when we got there we discovered that he wasn’t able to make it. We hope he enjoyed the Pride of Britain Awards the night before! 🙂
We were still very happy to be there though, as we could catch up with our fellow local company Risual from down the road in Stafford. They are sponsors of the event and their latest corporate video is always one of the highlights of the day for many people. All of them are very funny – and I remember well the reception their very first one got from the packed auditorium of thousands of geeks – mainly along the lines of “What on earth…???” Have a look here http://www.risual.com/about-us/ to see it.
This year’s production was very swish featuring cardboard versions of Richard and Alan – the company’s founders. On their stand in the expo you could see the actual models (and the real-life ones). They were handing out bottles of Risual water and at the end of the day – RisuALE – actually brewed by our friends Brad and Viv at Lymestone brewery!
Anyway – back to the point of Future Decoded!
The morning was taken up with keynote speeches from a fascinating array of speakers from different backgrounds. I think the most eye-opening one was from Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre.
I’d never thought about it before, but when he talked about how users of technology are told to change their passwords frequently or make long and complex passwords for every different application they use means that they are being blamed for the weaknesses in the system! What should happen is that the systems should be properly protected in the first place! We as developers have a responsibility to make our applications as safe as possible. it was good to hear about the new National Cyber Security Centre – part of GCHQ. Dr. Levy promised that they would be as open and transparent as possible about the cyber threats they deal with – how they work and where they come from, so that the public is aware of the growing threat from cyber crime.
Following on from that, at the end of the morning session we heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond who launched the UK’s new National Cyber Security Strategy. It was quite scary to hear about the possibility of another “rogue state” as he called it, could try to air traffic control, power supplies and other vital services to leave us powerless. He said that we would track down the people responsible and retaliate “in kind” to any such attempts.
On a lighter note we were earlier treated to a demo of live translation of Skype calls. They started with two phones simultaneously translating between French and English conversation. That was then joined by Chinese, German and finally Klingon. Very impressive! It’s not quite ready for launch yet – but will be a game-changer when it goes live!
There was a long lunch break – so we took the chance to visit the other Fox pub – at the other end of the Excel Centre – the Fox@Excel They seemed a little unprepared for a sudden influx of hungry geeks – but we enjoyed a very nice chicken chorizo and avocado granary sandwich before returning to the Expo part of the event.
There were quite a few Microsoft partners there and we were particularly interested in the Surface stands with the whole family of amazing machines. We were very tempted to ask one if we could open up our game Interference on it – to see how it was drawing on such a massive screen. It would have been awesome!! 🙂
The afternoon keynotes were also brilliant. We heard from Martine Wright, an amazing woman who lost both legs in the 7/7 terrorist attacks on the London underground. She didn’t let it ruin her life or sit around feeling sorry for herself instead she skydived, learned to ﬂy, and become a member of the British 2012 Paralympic volleyball team.
It was an inspiring story from someone who had been through so much and yet rebuilt a new life and is having a ball! She even says that 7 is now her lucky number! Makes our petty problems pale into insignificance.
The final speaker of the day was world famous author Bill Bryson! Having recently become an author myself (see the CUP Diaries on Amazon!) this was an added bonus for me! He was funny and insightful and he certainly raised applause and rueful laughter when he said his biggest problem with technology was everytime he switches on his laptop he has to wait for an hour while all the updates get installed. Interviewer Ryan Asdourian, Windows & Devices Business Group Lead at Microsoft.
Ryan asked him then which one device would he take with him to a desert island – Bill replied that there’d be no point as after 48 hours everything would have run out of power. Ryan said “Yeah, we’re working on that.”
Before we left we attended the free drinks reception with beer, wine and the aforementioned Risuale. We stayed to see if we’d won one of the many Surface products they were giving away on the day – but sadly we had not. Then it was onto the DLR and back to Euston for the slow train back to Stoke.
Our next trip to London is just next week – for the TIGA Awards, We are beyond excited to be finalists in 2 categories – as well as Game of the Year. Come back soon for a full report of the night – or we’ll be live tweeting @playifx