A good friend of mine needed to scratch a technological itch a few years ago and in so doing found a new hobby, which quickly developed into a business, and is now a thriving company. As well as being a true entrepreneur John has a wonderful way with words and numerous entertaining sayings, my favourite of which I only heard from him recently.
"James", he said, "you have to develop the noble art of looking over the hedge". Which almost insulted me at first seeing as I'd always prided myself on an innate sense of curiosity. But 'inquistive' does not equal 'aware'. And 'nosey' isn't the same as 'observant'.
Case in point - I pulled in to the Midway Foodcourt in Portlaoise again last Wednesday while on a drive home from Dublin, as I've done at least a dozen times over the last 12 months. I like this pit-stop because, as the name implies, it's about half way on the journey, has clean restrooms and a good choice of eateries.
But on this occasion I did something I hadn't done previously - I actually sat back and watched one of the five large screen TVs hanging from the wall, instead of ploughing through my email and Twitter stream. Only because it was 9pm and O'Briens Sandwich bar - purveyors of fine wifi signals - was closed,
Sky News was showing but only taking up 3/4 of the screen area. Believe it or not it took a few moments for me to realize that fact - an interesting news item was being broadcast and I didn't instantly notice that the right hand column of the display was blank, except for a few lines of text which I couldn't quite read from my chair, near the opposite wall. How inconvenient! My curiosity piqued I had to go to all the bother of getting to my feet and walking over to the far side. Where I read on the screen - "To advertise here email email@example.com"
Interesting! It turns out Click2screen is an Irish company whose flagship product is a digital signage software system allowing you to publish media content and data information to any screen. The clever part of the system is an admin console which is accessible through any internet connected web-browser. From there you can manage and edit your file library, screen templates, layouts, and schedules. A good example of their work is the project they did for Bewley's Airport Hotel.
Anyway, while my 'discovery' was nothing earth shattering, it just so happens that I'm currently acting as a technology advisor to another friend who has a large property development going through the planning process. A project which might readily avail of a Click2screen powered display system. In fact, it might just fit the bill perfectly.
Which all just goes to show that it can be well worth while dragging your head out of your laptop screen every now and again to take a closer, more attentive look at the real world around you. And to develop the noble art of looking over the hedge.