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What a Summer… A Summary

What a Summer…

This last summer of 2014 has been an incredible summer – on a similar level to that of last year. It differed from last year in that instead of one really big awesome thing, I did loads and loads of smaller things – all of which gave me shed loads more experience, and some of which were life changing. So, without further ado, let’s get started:


Above: Summer of Opportunity – Movie of the best moments of my summer.

The combination of hacking and sailing really works well...

The combination of hacking and sailing works well…

Summer started at the start of June when I headed back to Cornwall to relax and unwind from a hard term of exams and coursework. The first weekend, I took the RYA Powerboat Level 2 Qualification, enabling me to drive our speedboat – which has been fantastic – every weekend I returned since I’ve been speeding around the South Coast of Cornwall in blissful weather.

I then shot off to London for the start of my Internship at Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, working in Technology. The experience was so enlightening, and I could not be more glad that I did it. I worked in a small team which managed a significant enterprise product, and got the opportunity to work with some really great, intelligent people. Living in London was an experience I never thought I’d have, and although I went into it with a negative attitude (expecting to not like it, been a ‘open space and countryside lover’), it outdid every single one of my expectations. I even had chance to participate in a fund-raising event for the Princes Trust (cycling across London).  Having all of England’s history, museums and beautiful gardens within 20 minutes was incredible, and I loved the opportunity to try experiences that only exist in a capital city (for example Dans le Noir, the restaurant where you eat in the pitch-darkness, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships, and drinks in The Shard).

Drinks in GŎNG on the 52nd Floor, The Shard

Drinks in GŎNG on the 52nd Floor, The Shard

During my Internship I was pointed towards applying for Yacht Hack, a week long hackathon on a Yacht, pootling around Croatia. Never missing an opportunity, I applied. And, with the Yacht leaving Croatia on Saturday 30th August, I received an email on the preceding Monday 25th saying something along the lines of “Congratulations, see you in Croatia in 5 days”. What a rush! But of course, come Saturday morning I found myself in Split, Croatia, about to meet 10 of the most amazing people. The Yacht was absolutely beautiful, a fairly new Lagoon catamaran, and only slightly cosy. Within hours, the ideas were flowing, and so were the concepts and products. Our team came up with Shy – a service aggregating and curating answers to all the questions you are too shy to ask.  I’ll be writing a full post on Yacht Hack, including how it significantly changed the next few years of my life, at the end of next week.

Most of us on the Yacht Hack yacht roof

Most of us on the Yacht Hack yacht roof

Once I got back from Yacht Hack and had spent another few days in Cornwall (yep – speedboating was included!), I kicked off back to London to present shy to a group of investors.

Because I hadn’t travelled enough in the preceding few weeks, the next day I took off to Zürich to see old friends from last year and enjoy the city, culture and mountains for two weeks. Meeting up with friends and then cycling through the city and eating chocolate and cheese was just fantastic. I tried a very fun Swiss activity as well – taking a chairlift up a mountain and then riding a scooter all the way back down. Not to mention the incredible 2 day hike to Mount Tamaro (with overnight stay in the hut) around Lugano and Locarno, which ended with a swim in the spectacular Lake Maggiore.

Lugano Hike - the final push to Tamaro Hut

Lugano Hike – the final push to Tamaro Hut

So, summer’s over now and I’m now back at University for my final year.  I’m looking forward to challenges ahead and my final-year dissertation (a post on which will be following soon).  Bring on the next 12 months!

Summer 2014 – Morgan Stanley and Google Glass

Some may be wondering what I am up to this summer.  Am I just beaching it back home in Cornwall, enjoying the sun, or travelling?  None of the above unfortunately – instead I’m doing an Internship at Morgan Stanley, again working on a large-scale backend engineering project (but this time in Java).

This does mean I’m in London all summer (10 weeks) – something I never thought I’d do!  But like last summer, I’m taking every opportunity that comes my way (whether it’s trying bouldering, kayaking through London, exploring ridiculously busy markets and trying cultures that I didn’t even know existed), and it’s certainly been an enlightening experience so far.  For one thing, I now appreciate Zürich so much more than before – the city and citizens are so much more happy and cheerful, happy to help and smiley, and they have more respect for their city – London is full of not necessarily selfish people, but people who never seem to think of people other than those they know – people who, for example, see it as their right to have a door held open for them.

Ok – England bashing over (Switzerland – please give me citizenship!).  What have I been up to, and what’s been significant so far?  Obviously Google Glass has been a big piece of my life for the last 9 months, and since I arrived in London before it became publicly available here, I was keen to find out what people’s reaction to it was.  With that in mind, I went to the Tate modern (a famous modern art gallery in London) to enjoy the art and get peoples perspective on it (without actually asking them).  Loads of people recognised it, and I ended up doing a lot of demos, as I had expected.

Glass really came into it’s own at Wimbledon (where a Glass demo helped me get a great ticket for court Number 1 on the penultimate day) – I got some great footage and was kept aware of an ongoing server outage without having to use my phone – so much more natural!  I will add that the Wimbledon staff were not happy with me wearing it in Centre Court, where the dress code is more smart – but that’s fine – it is bright blue after-all.

Another awesome use I’ve had for Glass in the couple of weeks is with advertising/fundraising.  Last week I took part in an event at Morgan Stanley where we fundraised for The Princes Trust, who give disadvantaged or vulnerable young people the practical and financial support to stabilise their lives, undertake training and develop self-esteem, so that they have the skills for work.  We cycled around London for the day, doing the ‘Tour de Londres’, whilst seeking donations from the public.  Whilst out and about, it was important that we kept a steady stream of contributions coming in, and Glass certainly helped out with publishing media and updates of our progress.  For example, when we were cycling along by the Thames, I was able to post videos and photos of our journey so far to encourage donations (I had earlier posted with how-to-donate information and had said I would be posting media throughout the day).

When Glass was announced as being available in the UK for developers, I was interested in what the reaction would be – would there be a sudden influx of Glass into the hands of the public, like there now is in the US, or would it be more subdued?  I was expecting it to be the former, but I have to say I was wrong – apart from at this Hackathon, I have yet to see another Londoner with Glass, after 5 weeks here!  I think I know why though – since the public launch, the vast amount of media coverage in the UK about Glass has diminished to, well, nothing.  I haven’t read anything in the media about Glass since then, and people who see me with it and ask for demos (who have obviously read about it) don’t know they can buy it now.  Perhaps after two years the media got bored of writing about this product that would one day make it to general availability?  Whatever it is, I think Glass needs some advertising in the UK right now.