Five things on Friday #121

Things of note for the week ending Friday 24th April, 2015.

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1. MAKE YOUR OWN BB-8
There’s a new STAR WARS film on the horizon (well, there’s several actually – but that’s not the point) and one of the key things that director, J. J. Abrams, is keen to do is employ more practical effects than CGI.

To that end, it seems the breakout droid/star of THE FORCE AWAKENS is set to be one BB-8.

This fella –

Episode_VII_Rolling_Droid_on_a_Desert

So far so what. This past week, at the STAR WARS celebration event in Anaheim, BB-8 joined his creators on stage – and look! NO CGI!

Awesome.

Even better than that, uber-talented industrial design student, Christian Poulsen, decided that – once he’d seen the above video – he needed BB-8 in his life.

Er.

So he made one.

bb8sphero

That’s great, right? Well, because Christian is such an awesome fellow, he went and shared the guide on how to make one yourself!

Sidenote: you need kit.

2. YOUR PHONE VS YOUR HEART
This is old but of late I’ve been thinking a lot about neuroplasticity (it’s OK, I googled it for you):

OK Google, define neuroplasticity

And the havoc that the digital revolution is causing with it. I’ve been aware of the output for a while but I didn’t know the name of it. An excellent talk that I saw at SXSW prompted me to go into full research mode. The one quote that stuck out for me was ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together’.

‘That’s cute’ I thought, as several hundred people around me all took out their phones and snapped the slide in unison. Ironic that just before this the presenter had just warned us all of using our devices as ‘transactional memory replacements’ – but that’s beside the point.

The point is: I went a-googling for that phrase. I wanted to know its origin.

On the way, I found this excellent piece on the New York Times.

24GRAY-blog427

Read it.

Reminds me of ‘relationships matter‘ from 2011 and ‘the pressure of immediacy’ from 2012. These things won’t go away unless we make them. As I write this to you, I have three smartphones and a smartwatch within my peripheral vision. I understand I am an edge case however all of these devices are currently turned over or turned off.

I’m mono-tasking so I can Get [five] Things Done.

Think.

3. INTERACTIVE AVENGERS GRAPHIC

swweet

The Wall Street Journal has created this amazing interactive and colour-coded history of all things Avengers. Proper geeky. Be warned: you’ll lose HOURS.

Speaking of Avengers…

4. AGE OF ULTRON KLAXON!!!
(there be no spoilers here)

The-Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-645x370

I’ve literally just got home (well, about two hours ago – it’s 1am on Friday morning as I type) from seeing AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, the sequel (of sorts) to AVENGERS: ASSEMBLE, and the end of what is known as ‘PHASE II’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and…


..
.

it….

..

…is….

EXCELLENT.

Excellent but by no means perfect. There are a few perfect moments however to say it’s the best MARVEL film to date would be an untruth (maybe 3rd best, after Winter Soldier and Guardians); I would give it an 8/10.

You kind of have to forgive a fair amount (as the film moves at such speed – with so many characters to meaningfully touch upon) and there are a few leaps in logic that I felt a little uncomfortable with but whenever my brain went ‘Wait, what?!’ we’d already moved on to the next awesome scene.

The new characters are superb. With James Spader specifically being utterly brilliant as the eponymous antagonist and probably deserved much more screen time as a result. These are minor niggles.

AGE OF ULTRON is a great MARVEL movie; it manages to round off PHASE II of the MCU very nicely indeed while simultaneously time setting up PHASE III (and more) with spectacular aplomb.

You will enjoy it.

So yeah, go see it.

PS: there is ONE mid-credits sequence. That is all.

5. CHIEF FUTURES OFFICER – WHAT?
Tom Goodwin says that if to avoid going obsolete, brands and businesses should hire a ‘Chief Futures Officer’. I see his point, but I’m not sold.

What do you think?

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Bonuses:

  •  Now that Swiftkey is across both mobile platforms, the emoji data it has is all kinds of awesome. Want to know what’s the most used emoji in the world? I got you covered.
  • The source of addiction.
  • Related: like coffee? Try Pact Coffee and get your first bag for £1 with this link.

8

Whatley out.

 

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Five things on Friday #120

Things of note for the week ending Friday April 17th, 2015.

Five things 5

Hey everyone, slightly late this week. OH WELL.

Let’s kick things off with something easy. It’s…

1. MY NEW FAVOURITE TWITTER ACCOUNT
And it goes by the name of @Pentametron, I’m not sure it’s that new but it’s new to me and you might like it for the same reasons I do.

The bio explains the premise:

‘With algorithms subtle and discrete / I seek iambic writings to retweet.’

Perfect.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 08.28.15

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It’s little things like this that make Internet worthwhile.

Glorious.

Go follow.

2. BLOODBORNE

GRIM.

(it’s a little dark)

There’s a game out for the PS4 at the moment going by the name of Bloodborne. Apparently it’s of the same ilk of another set of games – those by the name of Dark Souls. It should be noted that when I saw the staggeringly good reviews for Bloodborne and subsequently made my decision to purchase (thanks for the £10 off, PayPal) I had never played any of the games in this series at all; I had no idea what to expect.

In short: the game is brutal.

BRUTAL.

In the first 24hrs of gameplay I think I saw the ‘YOU DIED‘ screen more times than I did throughout my entire play through of The Last of Us. And that’s saying something.

But as the great Depeche Mode once said: I just can’t get enough.

If you’re a PS4 owner, go and get Bloodborne.

But that’s not why this section is here. The real reason we’re talking about Bloodborne is because I wanted to direct you to this fantastic write up. Not of the game. But of the experience that the game puts you through.

It’s one of the best things I’ve read all week.

On a related note: big shout out to those lovely folk at Sony who invited me to a special Sony Mobile / PlayStation remote play event earlier this week.

What’s remote play? That’s playing your PS4 from your actual phone.

For context on the below Tweet, I’d just finished changing the hard drive over on my PS4 (don’t ask) and had to pop out for lunch straight after. Cue: connecting to restaurant wifi, linking to my PS4 at home, re-downloading all my games while I’m out and about.

Amazing.

But the cool thing is, you can actually connect a PS4 controller to your phone via bluetooth and play that way. Here I am aforementioned remote play event playing Bloodborne on a phone and a PS4 controller.

Whatley @ the Sony event, innit

Brilliant.

Anyway, lots of fun and, well, if you’re on Android and you’ve got a PS4 you should probably… know about this already.

Moving on.

3. AMERICAN PSYCHO: KNOWLEDGE

americanpsycho2

Here is a list of 19 things that you might not know from one of my all time favourite films.

Love this.

4. THIS AD IS AWFUL
You may have seen the furore over Protein World’s advertising this past week.

Missed it? Well, it’s here:

Here are three things you should read about this:

Advertisers of the [Protein] world: DO BETTER.

Side note: if you find the above ad offensive, you can complain to the ASA right here. It’s super simple process and please feel free to use the link to the tweet above as your source.

If you’re familiar with the Advertising CAP code then you’ll know what you’re talking about but if you’re not, take a look at Pippa’s post above (which outlines the specific areas where it directly contravenes it) and then complain.

Cool.

5. YOUR CAT IS TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOU
According to Dr. Gary Weitzman, author of ‘How to speak cat‘ that is.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 07.52.10

You could file this one under ‘n’ for ‘nutso, but stay with me.

Ahem:

“The meaning of a scratch or a hiss is pretty clear, but cats can talk in more subtle ways – with their eyes and tails. A slow blink from a feline, for example, is like a wink between friends, Weitzman said.

“Blinking is like a kitty kiss,” he said.

And extending their tails straight up equates to a human handshake, he said. A cat perks up that appendage as it approaches to show it’s happy to see you.”

The Huffington Post has more.

(yeah, I know)

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Bonuses this week are pretty random:

  • I hope that this (followed by this) was real; it really made me chuckle.
  • Cute gif (for ex-Gameboy players).
  • Like newsletters? This Here just launched a new one called ‘Click to Update‘ – issue 001 is out now and as first editions go, it’s not that bad. Go sign up and be sure to get 002 in a fortnight.
  • I bought myself ‘Pencil’ by Fifty-Three the other day (I love it, natch) and in doing so unlocked this 10% off code for the Device website where I bought it. Go, use it as much as you like!

PS. Star Wars.

Peace

Whatley out.

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Five things on Friday #119

Things of note for the week ending Friday 10th April, 2015.

Five things, yo

1. HOW DO SNAKES BEHAVE IN ZERO GRAVITY?
I know, it’s probably something you’ve been asking yourself all week. It’s OK. You’re not alone. It’s been on my mind as well. But you can now put your mind at rest.

According to Shobhit Sharma on Quora:

“A high number of animals, including snakes, have been subjected to a zero-g environment, either naturally or artificially. As results show, different animals react differently to this unknown territory. For example, tree frogs have been known to assume a nosedive position when the effects of gravity are removed. And even funnier, cats have been known to assume that they are falling over, so they just roll over and over, trying to orient themselves into a safe landing position.”

He goes on…

“But to keep the discussion limited to the behaviour of snakes, they have been known to exhibit some fairly interesting results in a zero gravity environment. They usually tend to have one of these two reactions: either they attack themselves or they coil themselves into a tight knot – like a bunch.

The roots of both of these behaviours are believed to be the snake’s response to the loss of its sense of proprioception, or the awareness of one’s body parts in relation to another. Being isolated from the effects of gravity, snakes are no longer able to differentiate their own body from a physical obstacle, which results in two possible effects:

  • Snakes perceive their own body as an enemy, which makes them attack themselves.
  • Snakes perceive their own body as another snake, which makes them try to bunch up against themselves as a result of a behaviour that is common to a stressed group of snakes.”

An outstanding bit of useless information.

Go and ‘up vote’ Shobit’s answer and say thank you for enlightening your Friday.

2. NEW ORANGE WEDNESDAY HACK

Meerket Movies

Sorry, not Orange Wednesdays. Meerkat Movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Hurrah and hurrah again.

Get to the point, Whatters.

Remember how you could just go get an Orange PAYG SIM card purely for sending that one SMS every Wednesday? That’s gone now (thanks EE).

However, a very smart person has found a way to hack its replacement service from Compare the Meerkat. Resulting in you having to pay a mere £1.37 for a full year of 2-4-1 cinema tickets.

Perfect.

One imagines this loophole will close very shortly, so move fast.

3. TINTYPE HOLLYWOOD STAR SHOTS
New York photographer, Victoria Will, hung out at the Sundance Festival (in NY) and, using a blend of modern and historical techniques, captured some amazing photographs of Hollywood’s finest.

These are gorgeous.

vintage-photography-sundance-celebrities-tintypes-2015-victoria-will-2

vintage-photography-sundance-celebrities-tintypes-2015-victoria-will-1

TINTYPE COPYRIGHT OF VICTORIA WILL

You can see the entire set over on Hill’s website; they’re well worth a look.

via

4. THE ONLY APPLE WATCH REVIEW WORTH READING
Honestly, I think this Verge write up is pretty stellar. They come under a fair bit of fire for their approach to non-tech news and, well, irrespective of whether or not they deserve it, you can’t fault this work.

The Verge

I’ve read it on mobile and desktop and the former is a better experience.

Related: if you’re sat there wondering ‘James, are you going to get an Apple Watch*?’ – the answer is a no. As some of you may already know, I have an [original] Pebble watch. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and the new version, Pebble Time, was recently announced on Kickstarter.

I backed the steel edition so, at some point over the summer, that’s the smartwatch I’ll be sporting.

Now you know.

*If you hear anyone say ‘iWatch’ – tut loudly, then correct them immediately.

5. THE ROCK DOES TAYLOR SWIFT
No. Not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter at once.

What is WRONG with you?!

I’m talking about THIS:

Lip Sync Battle

The URL I am about to link you to contains two videos from the new show ‘Lip Sync Battle’ (the child of all those amazing skits from Tonight with Jimmy Fallon) and, well, it’s all kinds of awesome.

Go. Watch.

And have an amazing weekend!

Whatley out.

__________________________

Bonuses this week are as follows:

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Five things on Friday #118

Things of note for the week ending Friday April 3rd, 2015.

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To those of you working today:

I FEEL YOU.

fuuuu

To those of you not working today:

I FEEL YOU.

gifff

Either way, I hope you have an amazing Easter weekend break and hey, to really cheer you, here’s a nine and a half hour Spotify playlist that me and a friend created especially for you.

Right then, shall we?

1. ALL YOUR TUBE DATA BELONG TO US
This is fairly geeky but stick with me (oh come on, you know I’m a massive tube nerd when it comes to this kind of stuff); below you’ll find a data chart that measures annual passenger figures from 2004-2012.

LUL 1

Look at that lovely data!

But that’s not why I’m telling you about this, oh no. The reason I’m drawing this to your attention is because Citymetric, the wonderful bunch that I’ve dug this stuff up, have gone a little bit further and analysed YOY passenger growth, disparity of usage between certain lines, and ultimately what reasons are behind these numbers – in turn offering up some really super-geeky facts and insights.

For example: if you divide total number of passenger figures by kilometres of line served, you get this pretty awesome chart.

lul 4

What to know why the data looks the way it does (or why there’s that dip in the W&C Line)? Have a guess in your head and then get yourself over to CityMetric and find out.

2. MORALITY AND THE IDEA OF PROGRESS IN SILICON VALLEY
This is my favourite long read of the week. Written by Eric Giannella, a PhD candidate in sociology of science and technology at UC Berkeley, it examines the amorality issues that rise from the blind faith that many place in ‘progress’.

‘ Progress, as we think of it, invites us to cannibalize our initial moral aspirations with rationality, thus leaving us out of touch with moral intuitions.’

Open this in a new tab, make yourself a coffee, and dive in.

It really is a fantastic read.

3. FORGET MILLENIALS; YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO THE REALTIMERS
Has the generation of ‘things’ arrived? Who knows. Read the results of this piece of UK research- aka the ‘Realitime Generation Survey’ [PDF download] – from Logicalis and make your own mind up.

As ever the first thing you should do when you come these kinds of documents is skip to the end and check out the survey size / methodology.

I’ve totes done that for you already:

  • Methodology: Online quantitative survey
  • Base Size: 1,116 UK children aged 13-17
  • Fieldwork period: 12th December 2014 – 5th January 2015

There’s so much of this stuff floating around at the moment but most of it US-based. If you’re in the UK, you might find this useful – give it a look and see if you learn something.

4. I’M SPEAKING @ DIGITAL SHOREDITCH / #DS15
Digital Shoreditch 2015 is coming.

Set to ‘Celebrate Outstanding Creativity’ and spread over five very differently themed days (Make, Grow, Next, Connect, and Live), #DS15 is set to be bigger than ever. This year is my first year attending, so I’m hoping for good things.

In fact, on the CONNECT day I’m actually hoping to contribute to those good things myself as my talk proposal was not only accepted but was then also voted by my friends and peers into the schedule (so thanks for that, gang).

The talk is called ‘Seriously, what now?’ – and it will aim to cover off the BIG TRENDS and MASSIVE MYTHS of social content in 2015. I admit, I may have been angry at the time I wrote the synopsis so the output on the day maybe a little provocative. But we’ll see what that looks like when we get there, shall we?

  • Time: 12:35 – 12:50.
  • Date: May 14th.
  • Place: Shoreditch Town Hall.

Digital Shoreditch itself runs from May 11th – 15th and the cheapest tickets available are only available for three more days. Fingers crossed I’ll see you there!

Tickets available now.

5. LOOK AT THIS GORGEOUS APPLE WATCH PIECE FROM WIRED

wired piece

I really love it when publishers put something like this together. Written by David Pierce, ‘iPhone Killer: the secret history of the Apple Watch’ is not only brilliantly written but also expertly constructed as a web experience.

Wonderful stuff. Check it out.

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Bonuses this week:

 

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A Full Day of Music, Vol I

Music. For you. From me (and a friend).

Spotify

I use Spotify and I like playlists.

If you use Spotify and like playlists too, then this blog post is for you.

A little while ago, my friend Sarah and I started putting a Spotify list together of all the best music we were listening to at that time. The playlist went by a different name at that point but now, some 18mths later, we think we’ve finished building it and are ready to share it with the world.

Made up of an eclectic mix of chilled out tunes, electro funk, and the occasional diversion into retro awesome, ‘A Full Day of Music, Vol I‘ weighs in at a hefty 139 tracks and just over 9hrs worth of aural enjoyment.

As Sarah put it herself:

‘[This playlist is a] mix of tunes that we added because they were the perfect track at the moment we were listening to them.’

We like it a lot and we hope you do too.

LISTEN NOW.

PS. If you like it, share it!
PPS. We’ve already started Vol II. So you’ve got that to look forward to. Kinda.

 

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