Stop Gap Solution - Livescribe Display.

Livescribe Controls - mute

Livescribe's dimming display.

I can't deny my Livescribe pen revolutionised how I deal with and cope with text. With Livescribe, I am able to take notes and notate the audio taking place around me. This took away a lot of anxiety I often experience where I need to note down relevant elements but equally, pay attention and be present in a room. Where there is a pressure to produce minutes or notes for circulation, striking a balance between documentation and participation came with a disorientation that prevented me doing either satisfactorily. Then....

I was introduced to Livescribe. I remember it well. The iPad had just launched and a colleague bought hers to a meeting where I bemoaned not being able to justify to myself a very expensive pdf reader! She did then show me her Livescribe pen. I immediately bought one! And now I have an iPad (still 2nd generation) I wouldn't be without either.

Recently however my Livescribe pen has faulted in securing its initial and valued purpose in providing confidence to enable me to 'keep up' with the world as I see it. It's a Dyslexic thing.

The Livescribe display screen is rapidly fading into blankness.

At first, I thought it was due to the brightness in the rooms my meetings were taking place in. After some research, I discover it's a 'known' issue
one which Livescribe seem to have addressed with new pens bought after January 2015 having an extended 3 yrs warranty but that doesn't help me. Anyone reading this far and experiencing this display failure I have a 'keep it going a while longer' fix/fudge. 

It takes a small leap of faith! It takes the settings you had when you last configured the pen with the screen visible.
One touch of the power button to turn the pen on. Then I tap/prod the activity sounds volume mute button twice. Once to mute the sound cues and a second prod of the icon with the pen reactivates them with a Livescribe 'tock' sound. 


This is the only indication that my pen is on! That 'tock' sound.

Occasionally and at the bottom of each page before turning a page I tap
the volume mute twice to reassure me the pen is still on. (I just did it then!)

Well, that's my post. Why do I love Livescribe? Why am I sharing a fix/fudge? I can take this handwritten post, upload the pages, convert the handwriting to text in MyScript for Livescribe then copy and paste the text to my blogging app. (as I have done with this post)

I'm very angry about the failing display, don't get me wrong. I can't afford a new pen right now and I'm massively disappointed in Livescribe the company but this capability afforded by the pen as an assistive technology aiding the management of my dyslexia is essential to me and for now after much sulking and badly notated meetings recently not knowing if the pen is on or off, making do with the handwritten 'backup' without accompanying audio I feel I can use it properly again, at least for a while.

Before I posted this I reviewed the search results for 'Livescribe display fail' and thought I'd give Livescribe's Live Chat customer service a try.

This is what happened... 

I visited the customer support page and started a Live Chat session.

It went like this...

Can you help at all? I rely on my Livescribe as an assistive technology to help manage my dyslexia. After searching the issue I know the dimming display modules are a known issue to you and for a while, you offered a discount program to replace failed pens. Is there anything you can do for me as I can't afford a new pen right now. I am currently preparing a blog post to share my current fix/fudge of relying on the audio cue produced when muting and unmuting the pen's voice instructions and playback volume.
It has been a struggle recently not having the pen working and this is a way I can self-rely on it working.I have had my current pen since 2012 and it has been well used and lovingly cared for.
I do hope you can help me.
This was me vlogging my very first Livescribe pen in 2010. 
The Pulse pen in the linked blog post was stolen in 2012 and my professional association insurance with Equity paid out for me to get a new one as it was accessed as being essential to me doing my job.
Best Regards
Caron @pcmcreative
The resulting dialogue in the chat session (edited for easier reading)
Rizek: Hi, my name is Rizek. I'll be helping you with your chat request. 
Caron Lyon: Cool, I forgot it was text chat as I was writing the question. 

Rizek: Can you please confirm if you tried the brightness 
Caron Lyon: Yes its at 100% 
Rizek: OK. 
Rizek: Now, we will need to verify your smartpen warranty. To verify your smartpen warranty status, please provide us with the following information :
- Where are you located ?
- Where did you purchase your smartpen ?
- Smartpen memory size :
- Email address you used to register your smartpen :
- Smartpen serial number :
Caron Lyon: I'm in the UK. The pen was bought through Amazon (I have the paperwork) but it was 2012. Memory size is 4GB. Email used to register is
Caron Lyon: I'm trying to locate the serial number 
Rizek: OK. 
Caron Lyon: can't use the display obviously 
Rizek: I see. 
Caron Lyon: (I found a serial number) 
Rizek: Ok allow me one sec.  
Rizek: The smartpen is registered 2010 
Caron Lyon: yes that's when I got my first pen. It was stolen and registering the replacement seems not to have updated. 
Rizek: Can you please send me the logs file? 
Caron Lyon: The log file. Yes. I was looking for that when I found that serial. hold on. 
Rizek: Sure. 

File attachment upload has started.  
The file (899.89KB) was received.
Rizek: Thanks! 
Rizek: Your smartpen is not registered.  
Caron Lyon: Is that a problem. 
Caron Lyon: It was all a bit complicated when I had the original stolen. The software has changed since then but I was never sure if it had registered properly. It has been working just fine though. It's just the display. 
Rizek: Allow me one sec to investigate. 
Caron Lyon: ok 
Caron Lyon: Thank you for taking time with this. I really appreciate it. 
Rizek: You're welcome. 
Caron Lyon: Eventually, I'll have to buy a new one if you can't help. I just thought it was worth making contact. Also, I've recommended Livescribe to many who in turn purchased pens and if this happens to them I want to have a good customer service story to tell them. 
Caron Lyon: Current warranty on new pens is 3 yrs I understand so even by those standards my pen had a good innings!

Rizek: Ok 
Rizek: My manager has seen your situation and he has approved me to replace your smartpen with a 2GB echo as per customer courtesy. 
Rizek: Can you please confirm your address. 
Caron Lyon: Cool that would be fantastic 
Rizek: Please make sure to review this article to help avoid any future issues with your replacement smartpen: 20104 - Smartpen maintenance and cleaning

Once we receive this information we will send you a replacement.
Caron Lyon: My address is (I confirmed my address)
Rizek: Thanks 
Caron Lyon: I've read the care instructions. It's a valuable tool for me so those are obeyed. 
Rizek: Phone number? 
Caron Lyon: Mobile: +44 (0) 78892xxxxx 
Caron Lyon: Is that all you need? I am so pleased. 
Caron Lyon: 2GB will do fine. I rarely reached capacity before archiving. 
Rizek: Yes I have all the information I need 
Caron Lyon: Thank you Rizek. You have been most helpful. And you changed the ending of my next blog post about to be published. I love a happy ending. 
Caron Lyon: I hope the screen behaves this time, well for 3 yrs at least. 
Rizek: You're welcome. 
Caron Lyon: I look forward to receiving my new pen. 
Caron Lyon: If that's all I'll say goodbye 
Rizek: You will receive the tracking information between 24/48 hours. 
Rizek: Have a good day! 
Caron Lyon: and you 
I'll do an update when it arrives.
Let me know if you are a Livescribe fan and have had this happen to you.

SMA's Elements of Company Management Workshop

EOCM May 2016

I attended the Stage Management Association's one-day workshop for stagemanagers looking to move up to Company Manager. This was no ordinary workshop. I got my place because an attendee living in Portugal and 9 months pregnant wanted to attend too and I provided digital facilitation via Skype making her attendance possible.

The photo above shows all attendees listening intently.

I'd wanted to try this for a while.

How I did it.

  • MacBook Pro with Skype installed EOCM May 2016 behind
  • Lansing Altec portable speaker
  • Slik Compact II Tripod
  • Logitec C920 HD webcam with built-in mic
  • Lavolta Ergonomic Laptop Table Desk
  • iPad2 with Skype installed
  • Bluetooth mobile keyboard

It's not the most elegant solution but with investment in equipment and the right platform, the sky's the limit. The experience was crucial. Can a workshop be attended remotely with maximum value being received by the remote participant? Good audio and video, check. However, Facilitation is the element that makes this work.

Unlike the equipment, participants are not plug-and-play. Those taking part need a little more direction and attention before the event to ensure the venue, event host, those participating and the online event host (me) establish a common understanding and  expectations are managed. On this occasion, it was with the course materials, session speakers and provision to dialogue with the participant.

It's easy to forget that the pile of technology on the desk, wires, camera, speaker and screen are a person.

Patricia attended from Portugal via a Skype setup. Once she was 'dialled in' those attending at the venue could see and hear her and vis-a-vera things fell into place. was very happy. But as a Stagemanager by trade myself, I was very interested in the workshop on a personal level. I am currently considering returning to the theatre and the CM role interests me greatly especially with the social media insights I have gained over the last 10 years.

Overview of the day - in case you are thinking of taking the Elements of Company Management course when it runs next.

The day was created to provide a comprehensive insight to the 8 attendees + me into taking the step from Stagemanager to Company Manager perhaps landing in the middle with the Company Stage Manager role as those on the workshop all had work in stagemanagement at the time. This workshop was about understanding the CM label. Andy Rowley, the Stagemanagement Association's director delivered a program for the day with top end presenters with real, current and practical advice about taking that CM step.

We started with Louise Waldron, a company manager turned accountancy manager specialising in Theatre with Anderson and Pennington

Receipts? Digital is acceptable and keep them regularly updated. As the CM is responsible for payroll Louise's top tips included "get payroll in for Monday" and "always know the allowances relating to the performance company contract you are working on.

What is VAT-able is forever a conundrum but apparently starred items on receipts have VAT. I'll be looking out for that star. I have seen it but didn't realise it related to VAT.

Breaking News... Jaffa cakes are VAT-able BUT chocolate biscuits are not!


Louise was informed, relevant and helped me to see the minutia of the CM role. Very useful that my SM's 'attention to detail hat' made much of this enlightening, yet reassuringly evident. Funnily, I had forgotten that feeling until reviewing my notes to write this post! 

Our second guest speaker was Tamsin Mehta, Associate Producer (tours) @ Shakespeare's Globe Theatre’s Hamlet Globe to Globe

As Associate Producer Tamsin travelled over 300,000 km and produced 293 performances at 202 venues in 197 countries, the production of Hamlet returned to The Globe for its final four performances on the weekend of 23 and 24 April 2016. The Stage Management team were awarded the Production & Stage Management Team “special award."

When the Globe to Globe Hamlet company set off on a two-year tour it's aim was touring the iconic play to every country in the world. They took a Folio Edition of Hamlet on their travels. The stage managers asked in each country they visited for someone to sign the book and inscribe the line “To be, or not to be” in their language. 
A nice touch I thought.
G2G2B First Folio
Tamsin provided some nuggets of wisdom that while not revelatory were fundamental. A quality presenter speaking with authority providing first-hand experience to help the group understand the role and scope of being a Company Manager. The purpose of the day was to inform the attendees who are currently work in stage management but are considering the next step in their career.
The Stage Managers focus is the 'on stage company’. A Company Manager's focus is wider, with an expectation you’ll develop a rapport with all departments and understand the 'Biggest Picture’ of the enterprise at large.
"If asked if you need help do take it if you can.” Being a 'control freak’ is never a good look especially when in a lead organiser or manager but it’s all too common. The greater trait is the ability to delegate and distribute workload. I think this was a moment for me when the CM role became a much more engaging possibility as I recognised skills I tend to feel comfortable delivering. Could I become a CM?
Familiarity with ambient communication techniques was hi-lighted as important, the example given by Tamzin was how she established a company channel for the Globe to Globe company using a WhatsApp ‘group' Social communications technology I understand. Whatsapp, Slack,, Tripcast and the like are a benefit not afforded to SM's or CM's before the dawn of digital or should I say the mass adoption of the smartphone. Other points were,
  • Be aware of being 'Out of Sight' when on the road. (All too familiar for those who have toured in the past)
  • Two weeks out on tour is like eight weeks out of the office for those in the office (you might have to read that twice!)
  • Visit with beer + biscuits (When you aren't there you want to be 'in mind')
Tamsin outlined the key attentions where expectations arise. Building a network with people in these roles is vital to the success of a company manager
  • Management
  • Creative
  • Production
  • Key decision maker 
Be sensitive.
You are bridging the gap between the Producer and the Stage Manager
The fact the Company Manager role sits close by Casting in the hierarchical production structure on many occasions was new to me.

Tamsin provided a comprehensive insight into 'being' a Company Manager and its' role. Citing many entertaining anecdotes along the way. Leading nicely into presenter three taking a more removed perspective having been a company manager in the past and now working in the 'key attention' areas listed by Tamsin previously.

At this point, I realise I need a part two for this blog post.

Part two will recollect sessions from...

Mark Everett
Theatre Director @ Marlowe Canterbury

Wayne Lee
Head of Employment Relations @ SOLT / TUK

David Bloom.
Head of PR @ Target Live

...the final panel discussion Company Management Panel with Adam Harrison, Mike Powell Jones and Anthony Sammut

ending with a what comes next for me, the Extend the Audience service and Company Manager aspirations.

Part 2 (link will be inserted when published)

#69unbox - tagging nostalgia

image from
This time last week (written 6th Aug 2016) Dan and I were building bookcases, the weekend prior constructing desks. As I write this, I have a bookcase filling with books and a small step closer to unpacking the many boxes not just those from the old house but boxes already filled and in some cases never unpacked when I moved into the last house. It's brought me to a place where I can tackle head on the sometimes crippling sentimental attachment to the palpable nostalgia and memories evoked when in the presence of the items. In a world where we define ourselves by experiences, keeping these things reminds me of who I am, where I have been, and the evidence is the contents of the boxes. In themselves, they were selectively retained well at least not thrown away at the time, and now my active cache is full! There has to be room for 'now' life.
In recent years the accumulation of physical items has been reduced by the collections of files, documents, photos, videos, spoken audio and music in digital form. Some sit on the Internet my AudioBoo, my Instagram accounts, my Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud. Then there are the offline digital archives on external hard drives and old media storage, cassettes, floppy discs, CD-ROM (read only memory) and as the final bastion of the analogue legacy, paper.
I realised this wasn't about choosing what memories to keep it was about optimising the storage. What space can I afford this sentiment, this record? Can the resonant importance assigned to the physical stuff be digitised? It's only relevant to me. When I am gone, the objects will become just things. Without 'my context', they are inconsequential unless they have a cultural importance. That is a rare thing and not what any of my ephemera has. 
image from
(pic above) My ‘Small Things’ collection - TIMEHOP 6th May 2015
#69unbox is about reducing items to digital files and occupying less physical space. Initially taking photos and on occasion with a collection of related bits, recording video. I can not capture the sentiment, that is within me, the recollection of moments, the knowledge gained, the lesson learnt they are me. I guess I feel the experience in a fresher way returning to the objects and have greater clarity than relying on the continued perception that my memory is inadequate. It's my source material!
Using the hashtag started a dialogue between myself and the innate desire to keep everything for fear of it's not yet realised necessity. This is, I know is untrue of a lot of what I have.
The first task is to identify the genuinely intangible, ephemera (my small things collection) and photograph them (some I am keeping) and if not retained, disposed of, or prepared for digitisation.
Round One!
I think Round One will occupy me throughout August.
(first posted to Social Media Womble blog 6/8/16)

Food Crime... the musical to #StopFoodCrime


Where academic reporting meets musical theatre

Yes, you are reading that correctly! From March to May 2016 I was commissioned as The New Optimists Social Media Producer. They wanted someone to 'DO' social media. With the budget I received this is what I did. I cam up with the title Social Media Producer.

That is producer, not maker. Whats the difference? In this blog I hope I can explain.

Firstly, what is a producer anyway? This definition illustrates my point

"Producers play an integral role in the television, film and video industries. A producer will oversee each project from conception to completion and may also be involved in the marketing and distribution processes. Producers work closely with the directors and other production staff on a shoot...the producer deals with all the practical and political aspects of keeping a project running smoothly, so that the director and the rest of the team can concentrate on the creative aspects."

Now, a producer in these terms is a scoped role far more extensive than I delivered to The New Optimists but the sentiment of how I approached the commission are reflected in the tasks producers carry out. To me a social media person is integral, sees a project through from concept to completion, may be involved with marketing and works closely with the direct and production staff. As a social media person the reputation and portrayal of the project online and understanding the multitude of social media accounts distributing context appropriately while nurturing an audience is an important part of what I do. Pre - Performance - and Post. Legacy is is important to me too.

Being new to the organisation my first task was to understand who they "The New Optimists" were, what resources thay had for me to work with and what their overriding expectation of social media output was going to be.

The expectations were to

  • provide contextual resources relating to each song in the musical to be tweeted in real-time during performance
  • raise the profile of the project to attract audience
  • build a simple web presence to begin separating The New Optimists main website from their Narrativium creative project based work.
  • support the creative and production team with social media output

As producer I was able to step back from the creation of the social media out of necessity, with the budget little time was available for editing or considered composition. For example, I requested company members write a short blog post each. I took the text, accented the posts with a photo before publishing the posts on the The Optimists website.

All the blog posts were tagged StopFoodCrime - Read them HERE - that tagged category produced a URL from the website containing only those posts tagged StopFoodCrime.

With a limited budget the effective use of folksomony is extremely valuable. Hashtags are folksonomic. User defined terms to provide quick access or knowledge retrieval.

My second task was to make it all happen with as little impact on the creative production process as possible. I want to iterate that this role was not about marketing or advertising, it was about defining an audience and a legacy. What happens next to this project is unknown to me but my objective was to deliver a collection of media to act as a beacon online for what ever comes next... at a guess the further work of raising a general awareness about Food Crime and the work that is on going to protect the integrity of out food supply, globally.

Wow, big stuff when you see it in writing like that.

So... understanding. For every project or client I build a digital scrapbook. This is a page hosted on my PCM website where feeds and content embed widgets can be collected.

The is The New Optimists Scrapbook Page.

Its a mish-mash, not particularly elegant but serves a purpose, to pull all the available media relating to the project together.

Now the project is over this is it's PCM legacy.