Today I was deeply saddened and pained to hear about the death of The Queen, Britain's longest-serving monarch, who away earlier this afternoon at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne. Buckingham Palace said the Queen “died peacefully” this afternoon at Balmoral. The Queen's eldest son, Charles, who has now ascended the throne and will be known as King Charles III, paid tribute to his much-loved mother. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times. She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people.
The King and Camilla, now the Queen Consort, will remain at Balmoral on Thursday night and return to London on Friday.
Buckingham Palace had confirmed on Thursday lunchtime that Queen Elizabeth II had been under medical supervision after her doctors had become "concerned" about her health. Tributes poured in following the death of the Queen earlier this afternoon on a dark, gloomy, and rainy day in the UK. Listening to the bulletins as rain pours down felt fitting. Feels as if even god is crying. She served the country so dutifully all the way to the end.
My thoughts are with her family at this time. Her Majesty’s decades of dedication and service have been unwavering, and your legacy will live on. This is an end of a great era in global history, and I am not sure anyone can quite match the long service and dedication that she gave. Ma’am, thank you for everything. We will be forever indebted to you.
Super Blood Wolf Moon 2019
Rush Hour at Heathrow
Spectacular Sunset in late August
Busy dramatic London sky earlier today. An Airbus A300B4 of DHL on approach to Heathrow's runway 27L (at around 3,000 feet and descending on the ILS glideslope), while a BA Embraer E190 crosses paths at around 2,000 feet on approach to City Airport (they are using runway 09 today). Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
(L to R) John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; and Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
It’s been a year of huge change and disruption for the global news landscape. On the evening of 14 June at One Marylebone in London, the Tomorrow’s News 2017 event hosted by Reuters unveiled some of the key news consumption shifts in the last 12 months, what’s influencing news attitudes and behaviours, and what the future holds. Some of the key questions revolved around fake news and to understand what are facts worth and how they are verified.
The lively discussion was attended by some of the key influencers in the media industry.
On the discussion panel were Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online and Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign. The discussion was chaired by John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures Reuters.
The opening and closing speeches were conducted by Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters. The discussion revolved around a report published by Reuters, which included a global survey of 1,711 Reuters.com users, and the findings which show that while fake news can be damaging for both news brands and advertisers, brands which advertise on trusted news sites can benefit. Unfortunately, Ben de Pear – Editor of Channel 4 News could not make it to the event because he was busy covering the tragic news of the fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.
Some of the findings of the report included:
Some of the highlights of the event included:
Chinnappa said that Google is “trying to give the answers that the users are looking for when they search, which is a very specific thing. So, for us, when you look at false news, on some levels, that’s news spam. It’s people trying to game the system. And we’ve been trying to fight that from the beginning of Google. He noted that as a father he understands the need for security and privacy of content on the site, especially when it comes to graphic content- and that Google is working very hard to make sure that brands and individuals are not lined in with the graphic content and are moderating the content that is published. He also mentioned that it is a challenging task.
Malinarich noted that brand attribution or recognition on social media is difficult. “If you spend your whole day snacking on Facebook, you know you’ve read things about Trump or whatever it is, but you don’t who wrote them or made the video at the end. …it’s just kind of a jumble in your head and you remember the actual stories and the headlines, but you don’t really remember who provided that.” One of the best things I heard was when she said that the problem with mainstream media is that the majority of the key decisions on stories are made by a select few group of networked people and not the mainstream junior staff and that is challenging to change. Does that mean that stories are biased or that editors tell their staff to write stories to shift the public’s viewpoint of someone in government or create a base for a public debate through influence? Maybe.
The way people buy online advertising, McCabe said, was to look for the cheapest way to find people who look like they might be interested in their brand. “That means they don’t pay attention to necessarily where the ad is going to run, so then you have the situation where people are chasing numbers by any means. It’s definitely something advertisers need to be wary of.”
On fake news, Newman said “Whose responsibility is it? Is it publishers, is it platforms, is it users? In this world, it’s all of those. Users get the benefits of greater choice, but downside of that is they have to do more work themselves to work out what is true and what isn’t.
They are, and they relish that. They see that trade off when you talk to them. From a publisher’s point of you, they need to do more about transparency. From a platform point of view, they need to do more as well to show the value of brands.
One of the key trends that nobody spoke about was Big Data and the effect it could have on the publishing and media industries. I mean, for example, if you have one person who has spread fake news then how much of an effort in terms of time, money and human resources would it take to turn that mistrust with the public into a credible and trustworthy piece of news? How much of a help would Big Data have in this, if any?
Other main areas of discussion revolved around the following key areas:
(L to R) Nic Newman, Research Association at Reuters Institute; Jeffery Perkins, Commercial Director, EMEA, Reuters; Madhav Chinnappa, Director of Strategic Relations for News and Publishers at Google; Nathalie Malinarich, Mobile Editor, BBC News Online; Maisie McCabe, Deputy Editor of Campaign; and John Pullman, Reuters Global Head of Video and Pictures at the Reuters Tomorrow's News 2017 event in London, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
London at Dusk
Sunset in Dulwich
Homemade chicken noodle soup
Noodles, green peppers, diced chicken thigh, Chinese spices and voila! Though, I am just a student...chef in the making.
The tube strike in London has brought some positive news...had an interesting commute to work on an old London bus this morning- complete with a conductor, who not only collects tickets but provides a full customer service and controls the number of passengers on the bus: "Hold on tight then", "No passengers allowed to stand up on bus"... Last time I took one of these was in the 1980s!
London welcomes 2017 in style!
Finally, we can all say "Thank god it is over"....I am, of course, referring to seeing the end of 2016. In a year that saw Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States of America, numerous terrorist attacks around the world, terrible natural disasters in Italy, Chile among other places, and the deaths of many famous people, I am sure we would all like to put this year behind us and move forward.
For me personally, 2016 has been good because I got engaged to a wonderful woman, and 2017 is going to be an even exciting time as we both prepare to get married in January during Chinese New Year. I have been overwhelmed by a feeling of thankfulness. This year has been perhaps the best year of my life so far. I am grateful for the support and love of my friends and family and above else, I am grateful for an amazing job and a career that many others dream of having- I LOVE my job as a writer. I am grateful for my fiancée, Vicky, for the incredible positive influence she has had on my life and the constant motivation she provides to me.
This was my first time to visit the New Year eve's fireworks in London. Usually, every year we stay at home and watch the event on TV. However, given that I was provided two media tickets to cover the event, both Vicky and I enjoyed what must be the best New Year festivities ever. It was also nice to bump into the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who took time out of his busy schedule to come and briefly chat to the media. What a year it has been for him and if there is one piece of great positive news in 2016, then it has to be Sadiq Khan being elected by the people of this great city as their mayor.
One piece of advice for anyone who wants to visit the fireworks display next year - try to stay on the Embankment side of the river as that is the place to capture the best views (and avoid the thick smog from the fireworks afterwards!). Here's cheers to a healthy, prosperous, safe and joyful 2017 for all of us.
Anniversary dinner at Les 110 de Taillevent
Looking for a nice, quiet and elegant place to have your anniversary dinner? I would highly recommend the Les 110 de Taillevent in Cavendish Square in London- just perfect. The chef may also conjure up a few culinary surprises too!
Mist Hovering Over the Ground- Dulwich
Foggy Brockwell Park, London
Sad to read about the death of British writer AA Gill, who provided inspiration to many writers, including me. I was never his friend but it was clear from his writings that the man possesed a talent and gift for words that rarely you come across in the industry...his mind spoke and his fingers danced...the heavens have gained a gifted food critic.
The UK Sunday Times columnist told the newspaper last month that he had been diagnosed with the "full English" of cancers. Gill, who had been having chemotherapy, said that he did not "feel cheated" and had been "very lucky" in his life. Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens said Gill had been "a giant among journalists" and the "heart and soul" of the paper he joined in 1993.
May god bless AA Gill. Amen
Embracing autumn - Owen Smith
Many congratulations to my mate and colleague, Owen Smith, for being voted in third in the BBC's Countryfile readers photo competition. Owen made it into the top ten shortlist in his first photography competition, out of over 700 entries. He was voted by over 300 of his friends and family to come third in the public vote. You can see the final top 10 here, which includes some stunning shots.
With less than 20 days to go to Christmas, official figures revealed today by YouTube Ads Leaderboard show that the digital Christmas ad by UK retailer John Lewis named ‘Buster the Boxer’ tops their annual festive leaderboard globally. However, supermarket retailer Sainsbury’s ‘The Greatest Gift’ was most popular with the British audience.
Supermarkets and department stores continue to dominate the digital ad space during the Christmas season; however, luxury retailers such as Burberry and pure-play digital companies such as Very.co.uk are also showing promising results.
As Christmas adverts have become a key part of the holiday season, much like the Super Bowl in the US, people across UK – and the world – are turning to YouTube to search for the best. As a result, there has been a 53% increase in the number of UK views of the 2016 top 10 vs the 2015 top 10.
The top 10 Christmas ads* of 2016 in the UK were:
1. Sainsbury's OFFICIAL Christmas advert 2016 -The Greatest Gift
2. John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 - #BusterTheBoxer
3. M&S 2016 Christmas Ad: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus
4. Waitrose Christmas TV ad 2016 | #HomeForChristmas
5. The Tale of Thomas Burberry - Burberry Festive Film 2016
6. Very.co.uk Christmas Advert 2016 - Get More Out of Giving
7. Big Dilemma (Asda)
8. The Argos Christmas Yetis TV Advert
9. Aldi Christmas Advert 2016 – Kevin The Carrot
10. #BootsChristmas TV advert 2016 - the gift of beauty
And the leaderboard globally* was as follows:
1. John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 - #BusterTheBoxer
2. Sainsbury's OFFICIAL Christmas advert 2016 -The Greatest Gift
3. The Tale of Thomas Burberry - Burberry Festive Film 2016
4. #Zeitschenken – EDEKA Weihnachtswerbung
5. Neste Natal, agradeça com Coca-Cola
6. Apple - Frankie’s Holiday
7. M&S 2016 Christmas Ad: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus
8. Come Together – directed by Wes Anderson starring Adrien Brody – H&M
9. TEMPTATIONS™ - Keep them busy (30)
10. Coming Home for Christmas | Heathrow Airport
* Both leaderboards are ranked based on an algorithm that includes paid views, organic views and how much of a video people watched. The UK list includes only views from people in the UK. For both lists we applied a filter to capture the ads that were referring to Christmas.
“It’s fantastic to see our Very.co.uk Christmas advert riding high in the YouTube Christmas Ads Leaderboard. YouTube plays an important part in every campaign we run, and never more so than at Christmas due in part to the ‘Christmas ad battle’ where you see people crowding around monitors to watch adverts, or sharing links on email.” Said Kenyatte Nelson, Group Marketing Director at Shop Direct.
“This year we created a longer-length Christmas ad specifically for YouTube, which allows us to tell our Christmas story in greater depth. YouTube as always is a great partner in getting the content we create in front of the people we think it will resonate with, and we’re thrilled to see our Christmas ad getting such a great response.”
David Black, MD of Branding at Google UK, said: “We see people coming to YouTube again and again to look for their favourite Christmas ads. In fact, they start searching before the ads are launched on TV - we have seen a 40% year on year increase in Google searches for Christmas ads.
“Brands know the value of YouTube as the destination for Christmas ads and when they use paid, owned and earned media together, they see strong results. They see YouTube as a platform for creativity and storytelling, where they can harness the power of sight, sound and motion to connect with consumers.”
“More brands than ever are making Christmas ads that users love. Now, the likes of H&M, Burberry, Coca-Cola and even Heathrow Airport are joining John Lewis and Sainsbury’s and performing brilliantly this year.”
“Here in the UK, Sainsbury’s quintessentially British commercial, playing on our love of stop-motion animation, has captured the public’s imagination. It’s great to see UK brands leading the way with Christmas ads, and exciting to see American, Brazilian and German brands tapping into this opportunity to put themselves at the heart of a global cultural moment every year.”
Award for the best barista goes to...
...a great man in Hammersmith. I know very well from my time while working at the Walt Disney company in Shanghai and Suzhou how much important it is to provide excellent customer service....it could be a smile, a hello, a greeting by addressing your first or second name (The Ritz-Carlton way!) or just a simple genuine gesture or action that speaks volumes and effectively says "Thank you...you're a valued customer and we want you to come back to us." This barista (he was too shy to have his photo taken) at a Starbucks store went one step ahead and asked me for my name and wrote it in a stylish signature. THIS is what customer service is all about. Will be back for sure.
Dusk falls in Dulwich (London)
Autumn in London
The rat race is on, folks!
A typical commute in London. Most of us to do this everyday. The queues are long, but there is a steady flow and no one pushes anyone else (like in other parts of the world) and rest assured that your pockets are safe too (well...just take care like anywhere else...but London is SAFE as can be!): Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Not a bad commute
England have lost a very important football game to Iceland at the Euro 2016. It is not the fact that England have lost a football game, because they usually do lose at big tournaments, despite putting so much effort into preparing for such events, but it is the fact that they lost to Iceland- a team which doesn't really posses the talented players that England has. England players should really be ashamed of themselves (seriously...come on, this is terrible). The second half performance was nothing short of atrocious. I know they held Portugal and have played well. But try telling someone like my dad or my uncle that England have lost a game of football to Iceland. He'd laugh in your face. Photo Copyright BBC
On the 23rd of June, the whole of the United Kingdom went to the polls to vote and decide if we want to stay in the European Union (EU). The result? Brits voted to leave the EU-I say again- the power of democracy had made people vote to leave the EU...interesting times ahead. Within hours of the result coming out, the price of gold jumped nearly 7% to $1,348.27 an ounce and the £ is still fluctuating like crazy (1£GBP = US$1.36). The last few days have been seismic and historic for Britain, the greatest political crisis since the second world war with reverberations felt around the world. Whichever side of the Brexit debate you were on, we are entering a period of great political and economic uncertainty.
Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London, said the UK won't "pull up the drawbridge", starting the tricky task of telling people who voted for this that they can't have it. They messed up...since then, over two million people signed petition to have another vote to decide to stay in the EU...a possible re-run of the referendum so this time people can actually vote to stay in the EU? Is this a democracy? Second full business day after Brexit vote will begin on Monday... no Article 50 notification....they will do whatever they can to delay it....get used to this...they made the public look foolish....
The Deep State and the global controllers in the Upper House are furious over this. When Chapter 50 is filed there's going to be a very negative effect; they will make things very ugly in Britain to make us an example to the other EU member states not to even think about leaving. It all looks great now but the party won't last long...come 10 years it will look ugly for sure. Not good in the long run. Nigel Farage backtracked on Vote Leave's '£350m for the NHS' pledge hours after result. The Ukip leader (who was educated at Dulwich College, can you believe) said he had never made such a pledge.
Someone wrote (I quote): "Things will be unstable for the UK whether or not there will be "interference". The currency deep dive is just the beginning, and then there will be changes to trade policy and so on. Now, if people see the good of leaving and vote what they think best - fine; what really worries me is the level of stupidity of the people! What they said were absolute shockers. The 10 years to come will be really bad because of the existence of such naive and ignorant creatures."
On the plus side, at least there is no threat of us having Donald Trump as our new leader … although there is chance that we may have someone who looks a bit like him …
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