Seven things on Sunday (FToF #194)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday September 25th, 2016.

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It’s Sunday. It’s 19:23. And I’m settling down to write this week’s edition. There are a few things in my inbox that I’ve emailed myself throughout the week and a few other favourites/likes from Twitter that need to go in too.

Shall we dive on in?

1. SNAP / SPECTACLES (DON’T SKIP)

You may have been under a rock  this week if you missed this one. But stay tuned… there’s something really, really interesting here.

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If you did miss it however, in a sentence: Snapchat rebranded itself as Snap Inc and, at the same time, announced a new set of $129 glasses (nay – spectacles) that can snap a 10 second circular video that you can then share direct from your phone.

And it’s that last part that has really caught my attention.

A new video format.

Not landscape.

Not portrait.

Circular.

Why circular?

This is what it looks like in action:

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So simple. So innovative.

The landscape vs portrait argument: null and void in one fell swoop.

Well done, Snap. I’m certain that Spectacles will be a complete sell out (it helps when on limited sale) but it’s this video capture/sharing technique that’s the real thing to look at here. This will be copied and copied and copied.

Just watch.

Oh – and as a bonus thing here: if you’re talking to someone at a party/over dinner/in the pub and they say ‘Ewww, it’s just Google Glass but for Millennials’ – just reel off this perfect counter point after counter point.

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2. HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW MUCH EFFORT YOU PUT INTO NOT BEING ASSAULTED?

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Hard reading.

Incredibly hard reading.

So read it.

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3. I USED TO BE A HUMAN BEING

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Another day, another article endorsing the whole digital detox thing. In fairness, it’s barely been two months since OFCOM announced research stating that nearly a third of the UK’s internet users had ditched their devices – so it follows that a few more would be give it a go.

There may be a sense of mockery in the words above but they are merely in jest. I tried this (and dabble with it occasionally – maybe once or twice a year now) way back when I spent a month on the trans-mongolian railway… it was a refreshing experience. One I’d recommend in a heartbeat – both the detox and the train ride.

But this isn’t about me.

This is about Andrew Sullivan, in Select/All.

He writes:

“I had sensed a personal crash coming. For a decade and a half, I’d been a web obsessive, publishing blog posts multiple times a day, seven days a week, and ultimately corralling a team that curated the web every 20 minutes during peak hours. Each morning began with a full immersion in the stream of internet consciousness and news, jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet, breaking news story to hottest take, scanning countless images and videos, catching up with multiple memes. Throughout the day, I’d cough up an insight or an argument or a joke about what had just occurred or what was happening right now. And at times, as events took over, I’d spend weeks manically grabbing every tiny scrap of a developing story in order to fuse them into a narrative in real time. I was in an unending dialogue with readers who were caviling, praising, booing, correcting. My brain had never been so occupied so insistently by so many different subjects and in so public a way for so long.”

The man has a point.

Question: when was the last time you unplugged?

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4. EVER TRIED RIDING 2000 MILES WITH A BROKEN SHOULDER?

Laura Scott has.

I know Laura from the internet. We even met in real life once – shortly before Laura was about to set off on this journey. I followed it closely – across Twitter and Instagram – and the pain points along the way were palpable.

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This is her incredible story.

On personal note: I have so much respect for your commitment and effort, Laura.

I can’t wait to read about your next adventure.

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5. DID YOU ENJOY BEING A GIRL?

Plan International published its findings on what it’s like to be a girl in the UK today. The State of Girls’ Rights In The UK (PDF) is sobering reading (so I say to you again: make yourself read it).

Included in the paper are the top ten best and worst places to live in the UK if you’re a girl.

Emerald Street asked two writers what it was like growing up at opposite ends of that list; a stark comparison.

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6. A REAL AND TRUE THING THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY BLOW YOUR MIND A LITTLE BIT

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Did you know that Australia is drifting so fast that GPS – that’s the global positioning system – needs to be adjusted so it stays correct. Over the past ten years or so, the continent down under has drifted a little under five feet. As the director of cartography at the National Geographic, Damien Saunder, says: [it would seem] ‘Some countries are more stationary than others’ – amazing.

Amazing.

More here, via Nat Geo.

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7. ‘THE TERM ‘MILLENNIAL’ IS USELESS’

Shocker.

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Bonus items this week are as follows:

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PS. The keen-eyed among you will have noticed the odd numbering of this week’s issue. I numbered last week’s issue incorrectly. Normal service will return at some point soon. Although to be fair, ‘normal’ around these parts is fairly hard to come by.

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Last note: thanks to all of you for the emails, Whatsapps, Tweets, SMS’s, Voicemails (for real), Carrier Pigeons (this is a joke) of congrats re: the new gig.

You know who you are.

Yes, you.

Thank you.

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Super super excited and there’s a whole bunch of stuff I’ve been working on that I can hopefully start talking about soon.

Seasons change and, as I am wont to say: bring. it. on.

Until next time…

 

Whatley out x

 

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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #195)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday September 18th, 2016.

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Hello fam. I’m just back from a three day work trip to Barcelona (with the best looking team in the world) and it struck me that I hadn’t written this week’s newsletter. Bums. Please forgive my brevity. I am hungover, a touch sunburnt, and very very tired.

Normal service to resume next week. Although I don’t know what really counts as normal when it comes to this thing, mind.

Shall we?

1. WHAT IS SUPERMAN ABOUT?

Although it has a dig at the underrated Superman Returns (really), this piece on what Superman is actually for is pretty bang on.

I enjoyed reading this.

2. ZAPPED

Dave Trott on why he thinks we’re in ‘Generation Bland‘.

This made me think.

3. APPLE AND DIVERSITY

Apple wrote an email with the words ‘off the record’ in it. Mic published it. And it’s a doozy.

This made me say ‘fair play’.

4. MARS

The Mars Rover has been busy again. Stunning.

This one made say ‘Wow!’

5. TYPECAST AS A TERRORIST

Riz Ahmed writing in the Guardian. Best thing on the list this week.

This one made me go ‘Ach’

UPDATE: NOW WITH LINK.

6. SEX WITH YOUR PARTNER, EVERY DAY, FOR A YEAR

A good read on learning what you need.

This one stayed with me.

7. WANT TO SEE THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF SPACE EXPLORATION ON A SINGLE MAP?

Of course you do.

Bonuses this week are as follows:

And that’s me, done.

I don’t even have a gif for you.

Oh, hang on.

Let me check.

Yes I do.

This is basically me, in about 30 seconds (after I’ve hit publish).

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Have a great week x

 

 

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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #193)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday 11th September, 2016.

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1. 15

Fifteen years ago, I was working at Good Morning Television – aka GMTV – on London’s Southbank (literally five minutes from where my office is now).

Working in TV-land meant there were always TVs on everywhere. Everywhere. The one in my office was above my desk. It was coming up to about 2pm I think when someone said, ‘Oh my God, look’. I looked up, and everyone was looking up above me, at the TV.

We were watching a live feed from New York. I remember seeing the second plane hit, live, and being in shock. We had no idea what we were witnessing.

It’s a small, little known fact but back then, GMTV wasn’t just a TV show. It had its own news team, outside of ITN, Reuters, and the BBC etc. It was its own weird little entity.

Within the next 30mins or so, every news correspondent in the building must’ve come into our office demanding flights to New York. ‘We can’t get them. New York is closed.’ we’d say, and we’d carry on watching the TV. I remember a few days later, those flights finally took place (all except for one savvy correspondent, Lara Logan, who flew the other direction – to Afghanistan – but that’s a whole other story).

There were rumours we were going to be evacuated too. Every tall building was suddenly a target. We were right near Westminster, the building was filled with media / news etc… we were surely next.

The brain does funny things in crisis.

Waking up on the 12th was the first time I woke up feeling afraid. Terrorism was something I’d read about / barely remembered from the days of the IRA etc. The world was – and still is – a very different place.

This morning, Sunday September 11th, I woke up, made my son breakfast, drank some coffee and read this account of the movements of Air Force One by those that were either onboard or simply encountering her on that day. A long, sobering piece that you should find the time to read today.

Really.

I wept when I finished it.

A horrid, horrid day.

One that will never be forgotten.

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Hard to follow that.

I’m just going to publish what I’ve gathered this week below with no changes.

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2. WHEN INFINITY GETS BORING (+ PS4 PRO STUFF)

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Another week, another post/link/comment about No Man’s Sky (I think this might turn into a general gamery section actually – there are a few other bits to cover off).

New Scientists has published the above named article this week. Quote:

“All of the screenshots that came out to promote the game were phenomenally beautiful. But of course these shots were hand-picked to show the best that the game could produce. Not every world looks like that – and you don’t see such variety when moving from one planet to the next. You need to explore a lot of worlds to find those interesting places. But after a number of them –  20 or 50, wherever your threshold lies – the thrill of planet hopping fades.”

And, in all fairness, I think they have a point. I’m still playing – dipping in and out, trying to find the perfect ship etc – but it’s just a a grind now and I’m not enjoying it as much as before. I’ve decided to put it back on the shelf for the interim and wait for the next content update.

That said, the game is deeply tranquil and it is still quite enjoyable to just go and fly around for a bit, and find different materials etc… well, we’ll see. But my play-time has definitely dropped off.

Also this week: the PS4 Pro was announced.

The lack of a UHD Blu-Ray player onboard seems like a real misstep for me and was super close to being a deal-breaker. But then two things happened: first, my buddy, Matt pointed out that if anybody has any clear visibility on how well 4K blu-rays are selling, then it’s Sony. It might not be cost effective to put a high-end player in this machine if the whole world is going digital… and I think he might be right. The second thing (also via Matt) was that I watched this 4K Horizon: Zero Dawn gameplay trailer via the 4K YouTube app on my Sony TV – AND IT LOOKS RIDICULOUS. Honestly, if you’re reading this on your phone, then just add that trailer to your YouTube Watch Later list and find a way to see it at the highest quality available… it’s immense.

Can I justify a new machine right now? No, probably not. Especially with PSVR around the corner. Can I campaign my family and friends to get me GAME vouchers for my birthday and Christmas and put them towards this machine? Probably yes.

So let’s see.

PS. If you’re unsure about the PS4 Pro, Kotaku has a good take that’s worth reading.

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3. NEW PHONE TIME OF YEAR

I’m considering a new phone. My Sony Z5 broke and I managed to lay my hands on a Huawei (wah-way) P9 which is really, really impressing me.

It may still be a contender.

If you’re considering a new phone here are two things that might be of interest. One: I asked Twitter what phone I should get – here is what it said. Two: I asked Stefan – my podcasting partner in crime – which phone I should get on Episode 178 of The Voicemail and you can listen to that here.

Hope that’s useful.

Related: this made me laugh.

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4. DUREX EMOJI

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The Durex Eggplant emoji flavour story was pretty big this week but my favourite take on it comes from Fast Co Create:

“Last year the brand launched a campaign for a condom emoji, to give young people a way to talk about safe sex that didn’t involve actual words. However, the condom wasn’t added to the the Unicode Consortium’s official emoji alphabet, so the brand may have found the perfect troll to protest the decision. While the new flavor is still just a concept, the brand’s campaign for a safe-sex emoji continues. Until then, feel free to just use an eggplant + balloon.”

Good quick reading.

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5. MCDONALD’S + ADVERTISING

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You may or not be aware but apparently McDonald’s has just appointed itself an ‘agency of the future‘ model, via Omnicom. If you know everything or if you know nothing about this, these two opposing views on the news are well worth your time.

I must admit, I’m closer to the contrarian…

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6. NEW IPHONE THIS WEEK

Unsurprisingly, The Register was not invited. I’ve had my fair share of run ins with them but, that aside, I had to doff my hat to this epic trolling of Apple’s comms team.

Made me chuckle.

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7. CIALDINI’S 7TH

Familiar with Cialdini’s six six principles of influence? You should be.

Apparently he’s adding a seventh.

Details here.

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Bonuses this week are as follows:

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Right, I’m outta here.

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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #192)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday September 4th, 2016.

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Monochromatic edition. Because why not?

Come on in, the water’s lovely.

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THING ONE: DARK

“It’s been seven months since Emma died and two weeks since I started building a bot from her texts. I’m feeding every word she sent me into the system, every thought, every feeling.”

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If you’re reading this near to someone, read the whole thing aloud.

It’s dark, poignant, and beautiful.

My Dead Girlfriend’s Bot

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THING TWO: LONG READS

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It’s been two weeks since the closure of Gawker.com (if you know nothing of what I speak – start here with this New York Times report in May, then read this follow up piece, and then finally this round up from The Guardian) and, irrespective of your opinion who was in the ‘right’ on this one (most people are either: Tech billionaire throws tantrum! or Gawker invade privacy!), in its 14 years of history, Gawker has published some hella amazing articles.

Buzzfeed asked its own staff for their favourite Gawker pieces and pulled together a fantastic list (NOT a listicle) of Stories to Remember Gawker By.

Some seriously fantastic writing.

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THING THREE: NOT COOL

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Frith Hookway writes:

‘In a similar vane as name dropping, name bombing is when someone’s name is used as a catalyst for getting something done faster.

For example, in an email or meeting we might say “so-and-so has asked for this by the end of the day” or “I’m doing work for you-know-who so really need everyone to pitch in”.

Without even thinking about it, I know I’m guilty of this. Many of us probably are.’

You’ve probably done this. I definitely have.

It’s not cool. I’m going to stop.

Are you?

Read more: ‘Name bombing: the not cool way of getting things done’

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THING FOUR: SPACE, MAN

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Next on this week’s list of things, is ‘Never go to space it’s terrible omg‘(yes, that’s the actual title). A brilliant piece from Leigh Alexander that delves into the physical and psychological challenges that lie ahead for any ambitions star-travellers among us.

A sobering read (and bizarrely reminiscent of my recent play time on No Man’s Sky (if there’s one thing that this game manages to do it’s capture the real feeling of insignificance in a truly inconceivably large universe)) it looks at how much work our astronauts have to put into surviving the most hostile environment you can possibly imagine.

The known knowns are interesting.
The unknown knowns blow your mind (the Buzz Aldrin about halfway in, for example).
The unknown unknowns are the things that’ll literally stop us dead.

Our planet will attempt a manned trip to Mars in my lifetime. This piece goes some way to explain just how hard that’s going to be for those that will be onboard.

Go read.

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THING FIVE: DIE DRAGON DIE

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One of the wonderful (and yet super hard to communicate clearly) things about gaming online is the huge sense of camaraderie that can come from achieving a seemingly insurmountable feat. With death at hand, a clutch victory in the closing seconds of any match can go down in legend among your fellow players and, in many cases, forge life-long friendships along the way.

I speak from experience.

With that in mind, I read this story this morning about a band of brothers and sisters who put aside their differences to defeat an undefeatable creature and, in doing so, triggered a chain of events that had the senior management at Sony Online Entertainment sit up and pay attention.

Even if you’re not a gamer – this is an excellent read:

The Surprising And Allegedly Impossible Death Of EverQuest’s ‘Unkillable’ Dragon

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Bonuses this week are as follows –

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And finally, a couple of years ago I went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and, with my good friend Robbie, caught 18 different shows/performances/plays over the course of three days.

The very last one we saw was a one woman show by Pheobe Waller-Bridge.

The name of that show? Fleabag.

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In my post-Fringe write up I wrote:

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And it was.

Utterly, utterly brilliant.

That was three years ago.

Today, Fleabag is back. Waller-Bridge has adapted it for TV and you can find it on BBC iPlayer and, I believe very soon, on Amazon Prime. It is superb.

So superb that it gets its own separate section in this weeks THINGS.

Google it.

Find it.

Watch it.

Talk to others about it.

Then go and read all the other amazing things that have been written about it.

Waller-Bridge deserves every success off the back of this.

That is all.

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Right, I’m outta here.

Thanks for reading.

If you could do one thing for me this week it would be to tell a friend about this newsletter.

Until next time…

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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #191)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday August 28th, 2016.

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It’s 07:45am on Sunday August 28th as I sit down to begin this week’s edition. Work has changed recently (for the better – more soon) and finding time to even open WordPress just once throughout the week is proving difficult.

Note: this is a good thing.

An output of this increased workload however,  is that FToF will arrive more and more frequently on a Sunday. While I’m sure this isn’t too much of a problem for many of you (I mean, can you imagine? ‘What’s that Whatters? This amazing weekly newsletter of quasi-interesting stuff that you do for me completely for free is MOVING its publishing date!!! Screw You!!’ – ha!)  I’m fairly sure that if you had an issue with this you’d just stop reading.

Right? Right.

PS. There’s a LOT to get through this week. So sit back, relax, and PUT THINGS IN YOUR EYES.

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1. THE LOTTERY OF INDECENCY

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via @LaSauvageJaune.

The only good thing to say about the horrendous burkini stuff happening in the news cycle over the past week or two is that there might finally be a light at the end of the [very dark] tunnel.

 

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2. USE WHATSAPP? READ THIS.

This has been pretty much everywhere this week BUT I figured I should share it all the same.

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In a move that genuinely did surprise everyone, WhatsApp announced a new change to its privacy policy this week that will enable it to share your data with its parent company, Facebook.

What data? So far the list includes:

  • Your WhatsApp Phone Number
  • Your ‘Last Seen’ data
  • What OS you’re using (eg: Android 6.0 or iOS9 etc)
  • Country code
  • Carrier info
  • Device info

Crucially, there’s no message data being shared. You may recall earlier this year when WhatsApp switched on end-to-end encryption. In short: WhatsApp couldn’t read your messages even if it wanted to.

So when it comes to this, it comes down to personal choice:

Do you care enough to keep your data hidden? Or do you genuinely want ‘better’ advertising and will therefore allow aforementioned data to be shared?

The good thing is: you have a choice.

When the new terms pop up, scroll to ‘read more’ and then untick the box. If you’ve already just hit ‘OK’, don’t panic, you still have 30 days to opt-out. (details via the Independent).

Additional things to be aware of (that will not doubt be circulating in the trades for a little while yet):

First, 2014. Jan Koum, co-founder of Whatsapp, said this on the WhatsApp blog:

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.

If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place. Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible. It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data. That’s just not true, and it’s important to us that you know that.”

So there’s that.

Second: both the UK and the US are allegedly looking into the legalities of this change.

This one could go and go…

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3. BEHIND THE SCENES

I used to work in TV. Long time ago. The vision mixer / director is the person that chooses what you get to see during a live TV broadcast. At one point this was something I really wanted to do (I used to sit behind the people at GMTV and watch them do it – I even completed a couple of training courses on it).

This four minute video, looking at the behind the scenes of perhaps one of the largest vision mixing responsibilities in the world, The Oscars, focuses in on the 1997 awards and, well, it’s really really worth a watch.

Such passion!

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4. A QUANTUM LEAP, BUT FOR REALS

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This week, China launched the world’s first quantum satellite. That’s right, China is actually going to try and teleport information outside of the known barriers of space and time.

I think we need to let that settle in for a minute.

Done that?

OK.

Now go and read an expert’s take on it.

Truly potentially world-changing stuff.

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5. SHARING A GIF? CAREFUL NOW.

Four days ago, sports writer, Jim Weber, wrote about how he had his Twitter account permanently deleted simply for SHARING A GIF. I know what you’re thinking…

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But don’t worry too much. Well. Maybe. Said GIF was from that world-leading and uber-progressive social media content event, THE OLYMPICS.

You can already tell how this is going to play out:

Over to Jim:

It all started when I saw a GIF of her sublime first pass on the floor routine two weeks ago on the front page of Reddit. Wanting to share what an awesome moment this was, I downloaded the GIF and uploaded it to Twitter with these four words: “Aly Raisman: She’s good.”

I had read that the IOC was banning the press from using GIFs but I didn’t see how that applied to me. Sure, I didn’t have the rights to any footage at the Olympics — just like countless blogs and users don’t have rights to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA footage that they create GIFs out of and profit from every day.

But I figured the worst thing that would happen is the GIF would be deleted from my account, as Twitter often does in these situations.

Boy was I wrong.

 

Hello Gif, goodbye Twitter account!

The IOC sucks at social media. We know this.

Turns out Twitter decided to play hardball too…

Damn.

 

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Bonuses this week are plenty –

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Right, it’s 10:30 (there were pauses to play Lego) and we’re done.

Until next time, my friends. Hope you don’t mind the casual shift to the occasional Sunday.

Oh, and enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend!!!

Whatley Out.

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