Blockchain: cut the cryptocurrencies and taste the tuna

Cryptocurrencies based on blockchain technology, such as bitcoin and ethereum, get a lot of hype. Some believe they are the future of finance, while other including savvy MPs on the Commons Treasury Committee and the Financial Times’ Alphaville blog (free registration required) take a more cynical view. Recent drops in the price of bitcoin suggest the latter have a point.

Like many technologies, blockchain – which creates a permanent, unalterable record of transactions – may prove to be of greater use in areas other than its original one. I have previously looked at its uses outside finance for Computer Weekly, but have now focused on how it can support food and drink supply chains. Continue reading “Blockchain: cut the cryptocurrencies and taste the tuna”

New NUJ training dates on freelancing and data journalism

All three of my NUJ training courses are due to run this autumn, all at the union’s London headquarters, Headland House. Winning and negotiating freelance work is on Friday 21 September, costing NUJ members £70, NUJ student members £60 and non-members £130. Details and booking here.

First steps in freelancing, which does what it says on the tin, is on Friday 5 October, at the same prices. Details and booking here.

And my Introduction to data in journalism course, organised by the NUJ’s London Freelance Branch, is on Friday 19 October, at a cost to NUJ members of £55, student members £45 and non-members £110. Book here.

 

Cancer diets and tech giants: having cake and eating it

I recently worked with Jack Malvern at The Times on a news story on ketogenic diet apps that claim to help treat cancer (subscription required).

A ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates, can be used under medical supervision to treat children with epilepsy. But Cancer Research UK says there is no evidence it is effective in reducing the risk of people getting cancer or increasing survival rates. Continue reading “Cancer diets and tech giants: having cake and eating it”

When it’s time to edge away from the cloud

One of IT’s big trends of recent years has been the move to ‘the cloud’, accessing data remotely through the internet rather than storing it on a device. There is nothing particularly cloud-like about the racks of data centre electronics that provide such centralised storage, but as a concept cloud computing has swept all before it. This looks like it might be changing.

Based on Freedom of Information and open data, I recently looked at spending on cloud computing services by the UK public sector for The Register. This showed rapid growth – then flat-lining from late 2016. Continue reading “When it’s time to edge away from the cloud”

Introduction to data in journalism course on 5 July at the NUJ

I will be running a course on using data in journalism at the National Union of Journalists’ London headquarters on Thursday 5 July. The course, organised by the London Freelance branch, is open to NUJ members at a cost of £55 and everyone else for £110.

The course is very much aimed at working journalists, and covers understanding data and risk, assessing data quality, surveys, data sources such as government and open data, freedom of information, combining and manipulating data and graphing. (It will not directly cover use of spreadsheets – there’s a limit to what you can do in a day.) You need to bring your own laptop or tablet with keyboard. Book here. Continue reading “Introduction to data in journalism course on 5 July at the NUJ”