Seven things on Sunday (FToF #193)

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


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.


I wept when I finished it.

A horrid, horrid day.

One that will never be forgotten.


Hard to follow that.

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




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.




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.





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.





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…




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.




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

Apparently he’s adding a seventh.

Details here.




Bonuses this week are as follows:




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.







“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.”


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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It’s been two weeks since the closure of (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.






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’






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.






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




Bonuses this week are as follows –


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.


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.



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.


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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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.





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…





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!





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?


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

Truly potentially world-changing stuff.




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…






Bonuses this week are plenty –



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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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #190)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday August 21st, 2016.



A year ago today I published FToF 138 and the first item on that list was Oliver Sacks’ last article before his death, Sabbath. A year later, a friend of his, Orrin Devinsky, remembers him once more and considers how he might look upon the world today.

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A short read but a worthwhile one.






The headline ALONE on this had me hooked.


Marie Moe is a cyborg who runs on proprietary software she can’t trust. She’d like to change that.

At age 33, Marie Moe learned that her heart might fail her at any moment. A computer security expert in Norway, she found out she has a fairly common heart condition that disrupts her normal pulse, so she had to get a pacemaker. The surgery was quick and uncomplicated. Just a few weeks later she was able to travel to London for a course on ethical hacking.

This is the future.

And it’s happening right now.





For item number three this week, we turn to old school men’s style mag, GQ.

And we’re going to be looking at WWE Wrestling.

Specifically the women of WWE.


‘Oh, women and wrestling? It’s a GQ must!’ Well, yes, kinda. BUT… ‘The Four Women Saving Wrestling‘ isn’t just a reason to talk about two subjects that historically work well with the publication’s audience. It’s actually a fantastic quartet of tales about empowerment, feminism, and the real off-screen battle / movement to have women’s wrestling recognised as a key component to regular WWE programming.

Good read.





Staying on the wrestling theme for a moment, we turn to Rio 2016. Did you see any of the wrestling? (I didn’t). If you did then you would’ve seen the Olympic mascot being thrown into the ring.



Yahoo Sport (no laughing at the back) has the answer.







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I’m still nuts about No Man’s Sky (examples: here, here, and here – deal with it) and yet trying to explain it to anybody really does get difficult sometimes.

It goes like this:

‘This game is amazing!’

‘Yeah? What’s the objective?’

‘Well, you’re technically trying to find your way to the centre of the galaxy…’

‘Got it’

‘…but that’s not really the point; I mean – there’s no rush’


‘It’s about the journey, not the destination’

‘I don’t get it’

‘There’s 18 quintillion planets!’

‘Huh?’ *stares blankly*

Over and over…

Now, imagine having to do that to a global audience. Think about it. That’s what the game’s creators had to do. They had to find a way to explain a game that is really quite difficult to explain.

Rami Ismail took a look at this process and unpicked the strategies and choices that Hello Games made during this process.

Really interesting.






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What would Olympic races look like if they took place near you? The New York Times (and, it has to be said, the NYT’s coverage of Rio2016 has been outstanding (see this beautiful Simone Biles piece for just one example of this) has put together this interactive website that maps Usain Bolt to your address so you can see just how quickly you could make that train…






NPR killed the comments section on its website – and the stats behind the decision are really interesting.





Bonuses this week are all hand-picked just for you.

Until next time my friends.


Whatley out.


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Seven things on Sunday (FToF #189)

Things of note for the week ending Sunday August 14th, 2016.

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You’ve just read the headline of this ‘thing’ and you’ve thought one of two things:


Unless you have a third option, which is mine, and it goes like this I’VE SEEN IT AND IT’S GREAT AND YOU SHOULD ALL SEE IT AT ONCE.

To the doubters, I’d say give it get over it.

I went in with a small amount of concern (and why not, Groundhog Day is arguably one of the best comedies/romantic-comedies/Bill Murray films ever made – of course you might be anxious) BUT the fact that it came from the geniuses (genii?) behind the MATILDA musical meant I had a good chunk of reassurance.

I went. I saw. I laughed a LOT.

You should go too.

It’s on at the Old Vic London until September 17th and if you can go, then GO.

It’s wonderful



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This week in BOT NEWS – you can now send a message direct to The White House (read: ‘President Obama’) via Facebook Messenger.



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I have to admit, it took me a good few minutes (and a couple of rewrites after that) to work out exactly what I wanted to say.


Via Fast Company.




Aka: what happens when you die on a plane?

There are two ways to find out. One involves dying. Here’s the other one.



Next year – 2017 – this satellite going to be launched into orbit around the Earth.

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What makes this satellite so special? Well, this satellite will be carrying the world’s first VR CAMERA FOR SPACE.

SpaceX have confirmed it: it is happening. In 2017, we’ll be able to strap on a helmet and look around in actual space in real time.

Just let that sink in for a minute.






…is a terrible movie.

I wrote a [fair] few thoughts on Teh Twitterz after I saw the movie last weekend but in case you missed that, here are a select quotes from a number of reviews:

Vanity Fair said:

Suicide Squad is bad. Not fun bad. Not redeemable bad. Not the kind of bad that is the unfortunate result of artists honorably striving for something ambitious and falling short. Suicide Squad is just bad. It’s ugly and boring, a toxic combination that means the film’s highly fetishized violence doesn’t even have the exciting tingle of the wicked or the taboo. (Oh, how the movie wants to be both of those things.) It’s simply a dull chore steeped in flaccid machismo, a shapeless, poorly edited trudge that adds some mildly appalling sexism and even a soupçon of racism to its abundant, hideously timed gun worship. But, perhaps worst of all, Suicide Squad is ultimately too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting. At least revolting would have been something.

Inverse said:

Even if Suicide Squad was a competent movie and not merely a series of disconnected scenes, it would still have one major problem: The way it handles race and nationality. Suicide Squad is so blatantly, outrageously, almost comically offensive, with stereotypes galore and cellophane-thin characterization, you’d think it was doing it on purpose to be subversive — only, it isn’t smart enough to.


I suspect the disjointed nature of this movie owes to the fact that it is two separate stories director David Ayer is doing a very half-assed job of trying to present as one. The first is a romance between the Joker and Harley Quinn. This element seems like the result of Jared Leto wanting to make a music video about how badass the Joker is, and Warner Brothers deciding they should build a movie around it using another film they were already shooting, a divorce and morality tale surrounding Will Smith, who must fight powerful monsters with his friends.

There are a ton more I could link you to but they’re all fairly depressing.

In short: don’t see this movie. Suicide Squad is a terribly dull movie and it really isn’t worth your time or your money.



Which ones does he write? Which ones do his team write? Someone looked at the data and guess which one they found to be angrier of the two?




Yes. That is exactly what you think it is.



Bonuses this week are all gaming related:

  • FIREWATCH (PS4 & Steam) is probably the best example of story-telling-as-gameplay I’ve seen since the highly commended/awarded LAST OF US. And, without doubt, is the best game I’ve played this year. Here’s a short video interview with the creators that give you a small insight into exactly how they did it.
  • I’ve gone all in on NO MAN’S SKY and I am LOVING IT. I linked to this piece, from The New Yorker, back in May when I first started talking about it [NMS] so if you missed it then, read it now. If you have no idea what the fuss is about, it will tell you all you need to know.
  • Spotify launched Spotify Gaming – playlists for gamers. An intriguing concept given that there are many who enjoy in-game choons but hey, I’ll give it a shot. Will you?



And I’m done.

Until next time…


Whatley out.





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