Five things on Friday #81

Things of note for the week ending July 18th, 2014

oakoak-urban-interventions-1

- OakOak street art, via Web Urbanist

1. Drone Photography
The results of the first annual Dronestagram Photo Competition came in this past week and, of course, they are all pretty stunning. The image below, by Dronestagram contributor, ‘Capungaero‘, took first prize but the others are well worth a look too.

Dronestagram1

2. ‘I don’t recognise the British Image of the EU’
My general guidelines for creating Five Things on Friday every week tend to fit around a couple of rules. One of those rules is ‘Never share anything you’ve seen posted 2-3 times elsewhere’.

I’m breaking that this week because I really think you should all watch this video of Finnish Prime Minister, Alex Stubb, talking to Channel 4 News about Britain and the way it approaches its own internal EU debate.

Alexander Stubb Channel 4

I may make no secret of my love of all things Finland (the people, the produce, the cities, the festivals) and it seems that love now extends to the Prime Minister too.

Engaging, charismatic, and articulate, Alexander Stubb is definitely worth six minutes of your time.

3. Sex Lives of the Humanitarians

When you introduce yourself at a party as a former humanitarian, people expect that your field experiences were shaped by witnessing suffering, violence and displacement. What they don’t expect to hear is that your day-to-day management challenges also included arguments over what time your colleagues could watch porn in the common room, and negotiating how staff could get to and from a brothel. Yet it is often a reality of the job and it is time we talked about it.

After that opening paragraph, I wanted to read more. You might too.

4. Snapchat in The FT
This past week, ephemeral media platform and darling of all brands who want to get at ‘the yoof’, Snapchat, starting experimenting with ‘geofilters’. That is, filters for its self-destructing images that only appear when the user is in a certain locale. Said place could be a city (eg: Malibu) or a big sprawling metropolis of a living, breathing brand (step up, Disneyland).

FT Snapchat

The Financial Times asked me what I thought of this development – so I told them. Basically, talking about what this means for brands and of course, does this mean that Snapchat might have a business model? Maybe.

You don’t need to pay to read it [but you do need an account] and it’s actually quite a good read. Worth your time if only for finally getting around to setting up that FT account you’ll know you’ll appreciate in future.

5. The best comic redesign of the week
A bunch of stuff got announced in comic book land this week. Everyone is talking either about either Captain America now being black or how a woman is about to become THOR. Big whoop.

Screw those people, the coolest thing that happened in comic book land was the epic redesign of Batgirl.

Batgirl Stanley Lau

So. Good.

Details, and more, over at Comics Alliance.

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Bonuses (all podcast related):

Whenever I try to talk to people about podcasts I get one of two responses. The first one is ‘Yeah, what do you listen to? I’m really into [insert awesome podcast name]‘, which is fine. The second response is this ‘Yeah, I’m not really a podcast person’, which, to be frank, is a pile of crap. You’re an idiot. Go and download a podcast app and just start listening to stuff. My friend Stefan has a pretty comprehensive list of good stuff that he listens to. That’s not a bad place to start.

Y’know where else is also not a bad place to start?

The following bonus items.

 

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Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

No spoilers.

TF4

A little over a week ago (and thanks to my childlike and somewhat ridiculous public excitement – I blame the Superbowl) those super lovely people at Paramount Pictures invited me to a ‘super-fan screening’ of Transformers: Age of Extinction (TF4), at the biggest screen in Britain, the London BFI IMAX.

TF4 Superfan Invite

I’m not kidding around, when that first trailer dropped, I admit it: I was so much SUPER FAN NUMBER ONE that my excitement was palpable.

Optimus Prime. Riding a dinosaur (or Grimlock as we geeks know him). You can’t get any more balls-to-the-wall nerdgasmic than that. No siree Bob.

tf4

Now, let’s fast forward to the super-fan who has seen the film. First off, if you’d spoken to me the moment I left the cinema I probably would’ve said something like: ‘Transformers 4 is probably the most unintentionally hilarious film I’ve seen all year.’ – it’s almost tongue in cheek with its brazen audacity and the belief-suspending leaps of faith it puts before you.

Example: yes I accept we’re dealing with house-sized transforming alien robots but MARK WAHLBERG IS PLAYING AN INVENTOR. Think about that for a second.

If you go into the film capable of accepting that as a fact (or as a running joke) then you’re in for a fun ride.

Story wise, it’s not bad: four years after The Battle of Chicago (see Transformers: Dark of the Moon- well, don’t see it, just know that it happened in that film) Transformers of all kinds are hunted all over the world and have, in the main, gone into hiding. Marky Mark’s CADE YEAGER (great name), a modern day rag-and-bone man, happens to find an old truck that he wants to break up and sell for parts.

Thing is, the old truck just happens to be one Optimus Prime (rocking an awesome nod to his original 1980s form) and then, well, someone tells the Feds and everything rolls out from there.

Before we carry on, let’s get the whole MICHAEL BAY thing out of the way. In my last Five things on Friday post I linked to an 8min video of what makes a Michael Bay movie (it’s 8mins long, worth watching, and embedded below).

TF4 is no break from this style.

In fact, Bay embraces it.

TF4 is pure Bayhem.

Soft country music, US flags flowing in the wind, low shots looking up (for no reason whatsoever), slowed down battle scenes – it’s all there. In fact, TF4 it so Michael bay, it almost verges into self-parody.

This is a man that loves American sunsets so much that in the opening chase, you go from glorious daylight, to an orange dusk, to a sunset over farmland, back to daylight (racing through fields), back to sunset (this time in the city), then to daytime (escaping on what can only be an actual race track – with the action and editing such that maybe he hoped you wouldn’t notice) to sunset again but this time out on the desert plains.

Obviously all these places exist in or near Chicago (probably) but are they all within 15mins of a farmhouse? With bonus magical yo-yo sunsets to boot? I don’t think so.

Example: these two images take place within minutes of each other.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.14.36 Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.14.49

Notice anything about the lighting?

Jesus.

It’s easy to criticise Bay. Too easy. But y’know what? The man nails bombastic action like no other and while the story may not be the best in the world, it’s better than previous efforts and jettisoning the ineffective Shia LeBeouf means what plot is there isn’t being held up by the acting equivalent of a damp cloth.

‘Yeah but, it’s just another robot smash up, but this time with dinosaurs, right?’

Well, yes (that’s the whole point) and no.

The first Transformers film was pretty good (purely because, aside from a novelty dancing robot car commercial, we’d never seen the Transformers made real before) but the following two sequels were rubbish. Terrible even. Age of Extinction breaks that mould and, contrary to the finality of its title, actually breathes new life into the franchise.

The Transformers themselves, leaving the obvious war hero tropes aside, are given at least some attempt of being different from one another, as well bit of personality to them (thank you John Goodman and Ken Watanabe). Plus, for the geeks, we get a new set of Decepticons, a couple of new kinds of Transformers (oh hey Drift, what’s that? You’re a Bugatti Veyron and a helicopter? Sweet!) and a brand new Decepticon leader.

But no more on that one…

On the character front, probably the best addition to TF4 is that of Lockdown, the gun [for-a-head] toting robot seen in nearly every bit of promotional material you would’ve seen.

This guy, standing in front of the monster space ship -

Lockdown

He’s a bounty hunter, with no affiliation to either side, and his presence not only mixes with motivations and ideologies of the characters we’ve known so far but also alludes to a larger story yet to be told.

Lockdown is a badass

Plus he’s a badass. That helps.

In closing, TF4 is Michael Bay doing his best impression of Michael Bay and it’s got robots that transform into dinosaurs and Mark Wahlberg saying things like ‘I think we found a Transformer!

It doesn’t matter what I say to you (really, it doesn’t), I doubt very much my opinion will sway you. If you’ve decided to see it, you’ll see it (see it BIG) and if you haven’t well, you know you’re not missing out.

I started off this review saying that TF4 is basically a joke but the more I think about it, the more it’s been growing on me. Put it this way: I can safely say Transformers: Age of Extinction is the best and most Transformer-y Transformers since the first one.

You’ll love to hate it or you’ll hate yourself for loving it.

In cinemas now.

ROARRRRGGHH!

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Five things on Friday #80

Things of note for the week ending July 11th, 2014.

I AIN'T PLAYIN' SON

1. Village Buildings as Art
In Burkina Faso, near the bottom of a hill over looking the sun-drenched West African savannah, there’s a village where every house is its own individual work of art.

Burkina Faso

Its residents, the nobility of the Kassena people, have lived in the region since the 15th century and are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Burkina Faso. Keeping itself fairly isolated from the outside world (the photographer negotiated for a year before being allowed to enter) the village comes with strict rules, such as ‘only the most noble family is allowed to carry an umbrella’.

I doubt it rains much there but still.

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 12.39.37

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 12.39.47

More details, as well as more photos, over on Messy Nessy Chic.

2. My Life as a Tech Evangelist
I first met Myriam Joire – aka ‘Tnkgrl – way back in September 2008, and since then she’s gone from a self-made mobile blogger, to technology news reporter at Engadget, to Tech Evangelist for the ‘original’ (and best) smartwatch, Pebble. This post, entitled ‘So what is it you do anyway?’ an,d published on Medium last Saturday, goes into the detail of what it means to be a Tech Evangelist at a start up in the one of the newest and most exciting product categories today.

Quote:

“How do you become a tech evangelist?” I get this question a lot. First, you need to be an extrovert who loves tech. You have to be comfortable talking with people — whether individually or up on stage, in front of thousands. It’s also important to have a solid understanding of the tech world and how it operates. You want be familiar with the products in your market and beyond, including the competition. Relationships are critical — start building connections with as many people in tech as possible, especially the media. Attend conferences and events, and have a strong presence online (social media, blog, etc…) Be yourself, be honest, be critical, be fair, and — most importantly — have fun!

Myriam is a great person, Pebble is a great product (trust me, I know), and this is a great post.

3. Toilet Tennis
Wimbledon came to an end last week and, as Djokovic enjoys his well-deserved championship, the New York Times has a great article about the uncertain protocol around Grand Slam toilet breaks.

Toilet break tennis

Not the most exciting of topics you might think, but brilliant reading (and trivia).

As Djokovic and the restless crowd waited, Murray stood alone in a tiny, one-toilet bathroom just off the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
.
“I stood in front of the mirror with sweat dripping down my face, and I knew I had to change what was going on inside,” he said the next spring. “So I started talking. Out loud. ‘You are not losing this match,’ I said to myself. ‘You are not losing this match.’ I started out a little tentative, but my voice got louder. ‘You are not going to let this one slip. This is your time.’
.
“At first, I felt a bit weird, but I felt something change inside me. I was surprised by my response. I knew I could win.”
.
He did not say whether he used the toilet.

Ha!

More.

4. 100 Social Media Content ‘Ideas’
This Forbes article lists off 100 different things you can do in social.

idea

Rather confidently named ‘100 Killer Ideas For Your Social Media Content‘ it is a little disingenuous in its pitch however, given that the article reels off a century of tactical things you can actually do with your social media pages, I’m willing to give it a pass.

Where it lacks in strategy (e.g.: ‘Share a Reddit topic!’), it makes up for in sheer volume.

Bookmark it for when you need to mainline some CONTENTIFICATION.

5. WOLFCOP
I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this already. I honestly thought I had but it must’ve been a dream. In short, WOLFCOP looks AMAZING. io9 is calling it ‘The best 80s film ever made in 2014‘ and, while I haven’t actually seen it yet, the trailer is a BLAST.

I’ll put it out there, I love love love werewolf flicks. I’ve seen ‘em all. Twice.

Wolfcop is next on my list.

I reckon it should be on yours too.

WOLFCOP

RAAAAARGH!

—- Whatley out.

Bonuses this week:

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Five things on Friday #79

Things of note for the weekend ending July 4th, 2014.

Lego Glasses innit

1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Early reviews of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are in and it’s beginning to read like one of the best sequels ever made.

Apes, man

You can read a bunch of SPOILER-FREE reactions over on Screenrant but here’s the quote that won me over -

Not quite the intimate parable of the first movie nor a balls-to-the-wall battlefield extravaganza, Dawn is pitched somewhere in the middle, with much of its two hour-plus running time powered by the simmering, expertly sustained tension both between and within the two species. The key to selling this knife-edge friction, of course, is the ability to buy into the apes as fully fleshed-out characters.

Yeah, I’m in.

2. Testing the ORION Space Launch System

KAPOOSH

KA-POOOOSH!

I picked this up from Tab Dump (a great news source) earlier this week. The Atlantic put together this amazing photo essay of NASA’s test of its new Space Launch system – and it is gorgeous.

3. The Slap
Another week, another Max Landis thing – The Slap – is a [somewhat late] response to the viral clothes marketing video from a few months ago, First Kiss. Both are worth watching.

4. Sink Hole Corvettes
I don’t know if you caught this at the time but back in February a 40-foot sinkhole opened up underneath the Corvette Museum in Kentucky and the poor guys lost a couple of beautiful cars to the Earth below.

sinkhole corvettes

Well, after dragging the smashed up beauties out of there, the museum’s board got together and tried to work out what to do with the gaping hole in the middle of their building.

The museum’s board felt that it had three options available: completely repair the sinkhole, leave it as-is or modify it slightly to be somewhat smaller. In a vote, the members decided on the third option, which would reduce the cavity’s size to 25-feet by 45-feet wide and 30-feet deep. That might be further modified after studies into how having an open hole in the Skydome will affect the humidity and heating costs. Regardless, the hope is to leave enough room to display two Corvette models down there, possibly the ones most badly damaged in the collapse.

Yup, that’s right, the AMAZING folks at the Corvette Museum decided to not only keep the sinkhole, but also display the damaged cars therein! Apparently, since the sinkhole occurred, attendance shot up by 59% so obviously it makes complete sense to keep it.

Brilliant.

5. Cutting costs? Nah, let’s make more money.
I read Scamp quite often and it’s pretty much nearly always a damn good read. This latest post, looking at why it’s not always the right idea to save money but instead just make more of it (it makes so much sense when you write it down like that) is a very good read and might make think everso slightly differently next time you’re going into the FD.

Scamp.

-Whatley out.

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Bonuses

One bonus this week – an awesome 8min long video on what the ‘one take’ in film really means and how the person you’d least expect is truly the one and only master.

 

 

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Five things on Friday #78

Things of note for the week ending June 27th, 2014.
(sorry it’s late)

LOOK AT THE THINGS

1. Paper Later
Discovered via my friend Robbie last night (who had just taken delivery of his own copy). PaperLater is a super neat and super retro way of enjoying the articles that you save to your ‘read it later’ app of choice, e.g.: Pocket or Instapaper).

Paper Later

What it does is, for £4.99, pull all your saved-for-later articles, lays them out in a decent format, print them up on sustainable / recycled newspaper, and then delivers the whole thing to your door.

Lovely stuff.

The beta is UK only for now and you can sign up right here.

2. Petit Tube
Like Forgotify before it, Petit Tube is a website that celebrates the esoteric content of the internet. In this case, bringing out the very best (or worst) of YouTube by digging up those videos that have zero [or close to zero] views against them. This is deep exploration of the the long tail; here be dragons.

Seriously super random.

3. Phases in Mobile
A characteristically great post from Ben Evans. This week, using the TV ads of the past ten years to analyse how much the face of the mobile consumer space has changed since 1994.

Zero to 2bn customers in ten years. What will the next ten bring?

Read: Phases in Mobile.

4. Facebook’s ‘Experiment’
This story landed two days ago and it is spiralling like crazy. If you’ve not read about it yet, start with Marginal Revolution and click, click, click from there. This will not go away quickly.

5. Superman: DOOMED.
This isn’t an item about Superman. Well, it is. But that’s not what I mean. Guillem March is an artist working in comic books today. He uses his blog to demonstrate the process of creating, amongst other things, covers for different books.

This week he showed the process from this -

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 17.55.10

To this -

Superman Doomed cover color

I love this stuff.

That is all.

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Bonus items are all videos this week, enjoy –

 

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