Phonebloks: A Phone Worth Keeping?

Before I go any further, take a look at this pitch for Phonebloks — it’s just shy of 3 minutes long and will be worth it:

What do you think?

As somebody who likes to keep the tools of my trade working for as long as possible, I’m pretty excited by the concept; a seemingly sensible proposal and a slight antidote to the Upgrade Generation.

A “slight” antidote because it’s by no means the whole answer but a step in the right direction, don’t you think?

At the very least, the throwaway mentality might be slowed…

“Phoneblok is made of detachable bloks. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; if it’s getting old just upgrade.”

And it is only a concept at this stage — Dave Hakkens simply seems to be ‘putting it out there’ in an effort to spark enough interest from enough of the right people to maybe, just maybe, get this thing off the ground.

Phonebloks, a phone worth keeping

I must admit to being quite surprised by his note on copyright, though:

“If you want to set up this platform please do, the sooner the better. We would appreciate it if you would keep us updated though, we might have some ideas for it!”

It seems strange, after all his efforts, that Mr. Hakkens doesn’t have any rights over the idea and is willing to just ‘let it go’. Or maybe I’m missing something?

Of course, people will likely get hooked on the modular bits-and-bobs but I like the main ethos — that this is a phone worth keeping and that you only replace the modules that need replacing if they become faulty or outdated.

Oh, and it’s like Lego for grown-ups, which is good (!).

How can you show your support?

I’ve joined the Thunderclap for 29th October.

If you think this is a great idea, join the Thunderclap too, which will help really spread the word — I hope it can work in some way shape or form.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…

Great North Humanity

Until a couple of years ago, like Charlie Brooker, I would never have dreamed that I’d become a runner.

I’d watch the London Marathon on television and be full of admiration for those who took part but it was always in a separate box for me, not part of my life.

Ditto for the Great North Run.

Living in Newcastle, however, the difference with the latter was that I could hear it all going on outside my own bedroom window.

The loud tannoy, the cheering crowds and, of course, the Red Arrows.

As Sue Barker looked at me judgementally, I even photographed the GNR on television in 2006 as my contribution to Julian Germain’s Running Line.

Great North Run 2006, Sue Barker

Sue Barker judging me for watching in bed in 2006…

Finally, watching it from the comfort of my bed in 2011, I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’m reasonably fit. I need to get off my backside and give this a go!”

Great North Run 2006 for Julian Germain's Running Line

“Feel Better”, the banners read…

And, lo, it was decided. I trained wholeheartedly, ran my first Great North Run in 2012 and raised lots of money for the Lifeboats in the process.


It was indeed great but very hard. This year I ran it for the second time and it was even better. So much better that I’m more bitten by the bug than ever.

So why is the Great North Run ‘great’?

For me, other than its obvious size, the run is so humbling and moving…

The humanity and endeavour is extraordinary. Folks of all ages and abilities running together for charity, for loved ones or simply for themselves.

When the going gets tough, you only have to glance over your shoulder and see a fellow runner who’s recently undergone cancer treatment to know it’s simply time to suck it up and get on with it!

The personal and collective achievement is astonishing.

Real Ale for Real Runners…

With 56,000 entrants, this is now the largest mass participation event in the UK (much bigger than the London Marathon) and the largest half marathon event in the world — it really does have to be seen to be believed.

Great North Run 2013, Runners on Central Motorway

My wife captured the throng as it passed the mile mark on the Central Motorway…

Even among so many peopIe, I’ve yet to hear a cross word come from the lips of anyone involved (not true of other ‘sporting’ fixtures I’ve attended with similar crowd sizes).

The same goes for the crowds who turn out to show their support, crowds that are practically unbroken on both sides of the road for 13.1 miles.

Then there are the sights and sounds:

…the children holding out their hands for high fives…

…the drumming bands pounding out their beats, tapping into our primeval nature…

…supporters handing out beer as “real ale for real runners”…

…Elvis singing for us, ever-present year after year around the eleven mile mark…

…not to mention the Red Arrows forming the customary heart in the sky over the sea.

Give it a Go!

If, like I did, you feel that the Great North Run ‘isn’t for you’, I urge you to reconsider and give it a go. It’ll likely enhance your life in so many ways.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the fundraising element and have nearly reached my £2000 target for the Tynemouth Lifeboat Station this year.

The Great North Run 2014 reminder service is now open, so how about it?

One Last Thing…

On finishing this year’s run, there was an extraordinary statistical coincidence — once the data from so many runners had settled, my finishing position and bib race number actually matched!

Great North Run 2013, Matching Position and Bib Numbers

I tend to get very excited about this kind of thing. The probability of this happening in an event with 56,000 entrants must be extremely slim.

Picture the scene:

  • I applied online to enter the Great North Run;
  • The ballot closed;
  • My running number was assigned to me based on my predicted time;
  • On race day, I made my way to the start line and stood in the designated zone;
  • I started the 13.1 miles and competed among the hustle and bustle;
  • 2 hours 12 minutes later, I crossed the finishing line in a position that matched my bib number!

What are the odds, I wonder, and how often does it happen?

It seems that I could even have placed a £1 bet on it and I wouldn’t have had to work another day in my life!

A mathematician friend of mine seems equally intrigued and is looking into it.

I’ll keep you posted…

By the way, if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please click here (donations of any size are much-appreciated).

Canine Collection

Following on from the popularity of “I will not chase the cat” last week, it’s my pleasure to make this canine Print Collection available to you…

…as ever, made with the finest materials modern science can muster to make sumptuous prints that will last more than a lifetime.

Chocolate Labrador, Photography by Jack Lowe

I will not chase the cat.

I was surprised to hear some kind words from a new client this morning, specifically citing an ad campaign I shot back in 2002.

It got my cogs turning…

I haven’t looked at the images for years and, I must confess, I was flattered that he’d even remembered them for so long.

The series was for Battersea Dogs Home — a campaign that, like several others, was simply on the back of mailing ‘Finn‘ to a couple of thousand London creatives.

Claydon Healey Jones Mason, Battersea Dogs Home ad campaign, photography by Jack Lowe

Ringy: “I will not chase the cat.”

At the time, I became slightly pigeon-holed (or dog-kenneled?) as a dog photographer.

I didn’t mind one jot — I still love taking photographs of dogs now. They intrigue me but, believe it or not, I’m not really a dog-lover.

We owned a lurcher once. It didn’t go entirely well…but that’s another story.

Anyway, the images have come up in conversation a few times lately. So, I thought it was about time I took another look, if only for the fond memories.

The campaign was even featured in Lürzer’s Archive (No. 3/02), a roundup of the best ad campaigns from around the globe — a proud moment for a young snapper…

Claydon Healey Jones Mason, Battersea Dogs Home ad campaign, photography by Jack Lowe

Molly: “I was lost. Now I’m found.”

Claydon Healey Jones Mason, Battersea Dogs Home ad campaign, photography by Jack Lowe

Wilmur: “I’m a pussycat.”

Claydon Healey Jones Mason, Battersea Dogs Home ad campaign, photography by Jack Lowe

Cane: “Some of my best friends are postmen.”

Claydon Healey Jones Mason, Battersea Dogs Home ad campaign, photography by Jack Lowe

The series was featured in Lürzer’s Archive No. 3/02

Agency: Claydon Heeley Jones Mason (now TBCH) / Art Direction: Simon Hazelhurst

UPDATE: These photographs are now included in a Print Collection dedicated to our canine friends. You can browse and purchase the images by clicking here.

7 Days to Go…

Jack Lowe running for the RNLIIt’s just seven days to go until my second Great North Run.

With 56,000 entrants, it’s now the largest mass-participation event in the UK as well as the world’s largest half marathon.

Fundraising for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is a really important part of the event for me (see my last post for some reasons why).

After raising £1652 for the RNLI on last year’s run, this year I hope to raise over £2000 for my local crew at Tynemouth Lifeboat Station — a busy station protecting the North Sea coast.

To reach that target I could really do with your help. As well as supporting me through my JustGiving page, I’ve also created a new way to donate…

For every print purchased from my Sea Collection, £25 will be donated to the Tynemouth Lifeboat  Station (£25 will pay for a week’s training for a lifeboat crew member).

So, not only will you have acquired a beautiful signed and numbered print but you will also be helping to save lives at sea.

Tynemouth 2, Photography by Jack Lowe

Buy a print from the Sea Collection and £25 will be donated to the Tynemouth Lifeboat Station…

This is a permanent feature of the Sea Collection, not just limited to my Great North Run fundraising efforts.

If you’d like to help me support the RNLI, please do have a look through the Sea Collection or visit my JustGiving page…