August 04, 2013

Who is Adrian McEwen

It's far too long since I last updated the "about me" section on this blog, and plenty has changed since I wrote the last one. Time to remedy that.

So, who is Adrian McEwen?

I'm a geek and entrepreneur who lives in the centre of Liverpool, in North-West England. I'm a technologist who understands that it's really all about the people, not the technology. It's always the people.

This website - - is my personal home on the Internet. McFilter is where I blog about anything I'm interested in that doesn't fit anywhere else. That has been cakes, but I've been quite slack on my baking of late, or cars, or wherever I'm living.

These days there's a lot on tech communities and encouraging more startups (because that's something I'm trying to encourage here in Liverpool) and also cities and regeneration (for want of a better word). I have a keen interest in how technology can help make life better, which sounds rather like the "smart cities" movement. However, buy me a coffee or a beer (or hire my company) and I'll explain how Dan Hill, Adam Greenfield, Usman Haque et al have the right approach on that topic. You can get a flavour of it in this piece I was asked to write about Smaller Smarter Cities for part of Watershed's work for Capital of Culture 2012.

Work and the Internet of Things

On the work front, I've spent my career working with the Internet and the Web as raw material, bringing it to low-powered devices. In the 1990s I played a major role at STNC Ltd, where we built the first web browser on a mobile phone, and then had a few years at Microsoft when they acquired us in 1999.

More recently I've been working in what's called the Internet of Things (or IoT for short) - bringing the Internet to bubble machines, or radios, or lamps.

I founded MCQN Ltd in 2005. We advise companies about the Internet of Things; write IoT software for them (such as the Xively Arduino library); build entire IoT devices for them (like the Perceptive Radio for BBC R&D); and also develop products of our own (such as Bubblino, the aforementioned bubble machine).

Most of my Internet of Things-related work can be found on, the MCQN Ltd website. Get in touch if you've got an interesting IoT project.

Publisher Wiley asked me to distil my Internet of Things knowledge into a book, and along with my co-author Hakim Cassimally, I'm currently finishing up Designing the Internet of Things, which will be published in autumn 2013.

The other big project I'm working on aside from running MCQN Ltd is as Chief Technology Officer for Good Night Lamp. It's an awesome Internet of Things startup, building a family of connected Lamps. Find out more about it at

Not Quite Work

Providing a place for me to work and helping with the encouraging-the-Liverpool-tech-and-maker-scene that I mentioned earlier is DoES Liverpool. That's the home for tech startups and makers in Liverpool, and runs a hybrid makerspace/co-working space in the city centre. A group of us set it up back in 2011, and have been steadily collecting more people who want to Do Epic Shit.

And once a season (i.e. roughly every three months) you'll find me helping to put on the latest Ignite Liverpool. Often as compere, introducing the 20-slides-in-five-minutes format talks where people tell us about their passion in life.

Talking About Things

Aside from compering Ignite Liverpool, I'm often asked to speak at events or conferences. Usually that's on some aspect of the Internet of Things, "smart cities", makerspaces or technology in general. I've spoken at the Royal Society for the Arts, the V&A, the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, the University of Liverpool, at events in the UK and abroad, and at numerous meetups.

I've also shown up in the press from time to time - I've been interviewed on the BBC Radio 4, appeared a couple of times in video on the BBC News website, and also in the Liverpool Post - which listed me as one to watch in their Leaders 2012 report.

As the slides tend to get spread around the Internet these days, here are a few selected highlights...

Posted by Adrian at 10:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2013

Irregular Possession

Russell makes an interesting point about how web services seem to choose either "your" or "my" when talking about the user's settings/things/stuff.

Pondering it for a bit, I decided it would be nice if the choice helped reinforce where the data was being stored. That might help people get their heads around the risks (of the data being given to $random_government or of disappearing if the company gets sold or goes bust, etc.) of "cloud" storage versus local storage.

So Windows is correct in using the term "My Documents" (assuming it still does, I don't spend much time there these days) because the items are held on my hard disk, which is in my possession. And is right to say "Your account settings" because they're holding my account details along with many others.

Sadly I can't see it catching on.

Posted by Adrian at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack