Five things on Friday #112

Things of note for the week ending Friday 20th February, 2015.


You there, reading this. Got an iPhone? Then this might speak to you. Those of you who don’t have an iPhone should keep reading too (as you might be offered some further reassurance over your decision to join in).

iPhone users have their own SMS-like service. If you’re receiving an SMS from another iPhone the message is sent via iMessage and appears blue. If you’re receiving a message from a non-iPhone then it’s sent via standard SMS and arrives green.

Like this –

12 13

Which means there is a very quick and visual way to see which friends / family own iPhones and which ones don’t. You know, so you can judge them and stuff.

Apple know it. Tim Cook has even said it.

Don’t believe me?

Read this: ‘It’s kind of cheesy being green‘.

It’s one part a depressing read on the state of human nature and two parts an interesting read on subtle product decisions that [can] influence culture.

Jon Ronson is one of my favourite writers and his occasional Guardian column is a treasure trove of brilliant worldly idiosyncrasies. His latest article does not disappointment.

Mingering Mike

The two sides of Mingering Mike: the soul legend that never existed‘ is a wonderful, sadness-tinged story made of cardboard, created through a mixture of depression, loneliness, and escapism, that ends with an exhibition at the Smithsonian.

This really is the best thing I’ve read all week.

The Singularity. It’s something that all of us will start hearing more and more about. To be honest, given the readership persona of this place, I think a lot of you will know about it already.

You can see it in the technology section of the broadsheets. It lives at the core of the science-fiction of trend of now (everything from TRANSCENDENCE, to EX_MACHINA, to this year’s upcoming AVENGERS sequel, to name but three, all feature smarter-than-human artificial intelligence).

If you don’t know about it; read up on it.

‘But where do I start?!’, you say. Well, right here.

With ‘Our fear of AI

“Because Google, Facebook, and other companies are actively looking to create an intelligent, “learning” machine, he reasons, “I would say that one of the things we ought not to do is to press full steam ahead on building superintelligence without giving thought to the potential risks. It just seems a bit daft.” Russell made an analogy: “It’s like fusion research. If you ask a fusion researcher what they do, they say they work on containment. If you want unlimited energy you’d better contain the fusion reaction.” Similarly, he says, if you want unlimited intelligence, you’d better figure out how to align computers with human needs.”

When one of the real world version of Tony Stark is working (read: ‘donating a shed ton of money’) to support ‘AI Safety’ programmes just as the fictional one is about to unleash an evil AI onto the Earth’s inhabitants, well, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Last year, just before the World Cup kicked off, a cool little thing went around where you could subscribe to a World Cup Google Calendar that would, rather brilliantly, not only plot all the tournament’s games in your diary but also retroactively update those appointments with the scores of the games after they happened. It was in short: a bloody useful tool.

The month after it finished I was still thinking about how awesome that kind of calendar would be for other purposes. How do you build one for starters? What else could I use it for?

Well, I like going to the cinema (newsflash, I know) and I like writing up what I think about those films after I’ve been.

Through that passion, if you will, I think I can say I now enough about film to have a pretty good hit rate on what will (and will not) be a good film.

What if I used that skill, combined with data from movie release websites to plot UK release dates for upcoming films into a similar calendar and then update those very same dates with links to my reviews after I’d seen said films?

Just like the World Cup calendar but for film.

As a great developer once said to me ‘Nothing is impossible, James. You just need enough time.’ – one Sunday morning I set about setting up the calendar. I plotted three months or so ahead, then experimented with how it might work with some friends (thanks Matt), and after that, I blogged it and made the whole thing public.

coming soon

That was September.

Later that month I was giving a ‘Twitter Card Masterclass‘ on how to best use Twitter Cards. The end section went into a cases of bespoke Twitter Cards. Twitter Cards that Twitter had made possible for certain brands and for no one else.

One of those bespoke cards was a calendar subscription card from Burberry. Twitter didn’t make them available for new people and it wasn’t going to tell you how to build one either. On a flight to Dublin it hit me on how I could hack my own. So I did.

Oh, and it worked.

I shared the calendar, the idea, and the Twitter Card at Social Media Week London. After the event I had a really lovely chat with someone from Cineworld about the idea worked and how I’d been surprised that no one had made one before. Last week, Cineworld launched their own version.


  • All your data belong to us. The thing about Google Calendar subscriptions is that Google gives you ZERO information on anyone subscribing. It doesn’t tell you how many people are subscribing nor does it confirm that there any subscribers at all. To get to the Cineworld version you have to either a) log in with Facebook or b) give up your email address.
  • The Cineworld version has multiple calendars available by genre. Because y’know, as a sci-fi fan you only ever want to science fiction films and never anything else.
  • The Cineworld version doesn’t let you filter by quality. That means zero curation… Which is a shame because that’s one of the KSPs of the original.

So yeah. I wanted to call this out because it’s actually really cool to see someone take something and actually try and apply it to a brand properly. And that’s great. The end product is slightly broken but at least they had a stab.

On the other hand, if you want to subscribe to a calendar of the best upcoming films then you know where to come.

Saturday Night Live turned 40 last weekend and, as part of the opening ceremonies, Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (a pair who are well on their way to becoming the US versions of Ant n Dec) put together this stellar opening:

I’m yet to watch the whole thing but seriously… 40 years of Saturday Night Live? Amazing. If you know NOTHING about SNL then you should know that some of the most famous comedians and comedy actors have started their lives there.

You want some extra SNL love? OK, here are 14 behind the scenes photos from over 40 years of SNL (brilliant) and here’s a link to ‘Live from New York‘, the complete and uncensored history of Saturday Night Live.

Treat yourself.

Whatley out.


Bonuses this week :

  • Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In Dresses. At the Oscars. On Acid.
  • Like video games but hate endless ad-filled websites? Plaaayed, launching soon from a couple of ex-CVG folk, might be just what you’re looking for.
  • How Not To Find A Boyfriend (this one’s a grower).
  • Run a Facebook page for a brand? STOP posting photos.
No Comments »

Five things on Friday #111

Things of note for the week ending Friday 13th February, 2015.




Guy Ritchie is back with his latest: a movie update of the 60s spy TV show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E..

Yes, it’s textbook Guy Ritchie territory BUT I DON’T CARE; this looks excellent.




This bit of ‘news’ has gone around the world three times already buuuuut just in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Samsung televisions that use speech recognition actually listen to what you say.

Thing is, the wording of the privacy policy is a bit weird.

Samsung - what?


So yeah, that’s hilarious. But hey, if you’re comfortable enough to own one of said fancy TVs, you can switch off the 1984-esque ‘feature’ quite easily.

Oh and if that wasn’t enough. Samsung is dicking about with your average movie watching too. Ain’t that sweet? Welcome to the future, kids.

*Yes, I know this should read ‘Samsung is being a dick’ but it just doesn’t work as well as a headline. Sorry.


“And here we are today. Visit any technology news service and scroll down briefly. You’ll hit a story about “the war for our wrists.” The digital watch is back, as the “wearable,” the wrist-based Internet terminal, frothed over by writers so buried in that world and its jargon that I’ve seen tech journalists refer to net-connected clothing as “wearable shirts.” Breathless commentaries on the as-yet-unmarketed Apple Watch and its crown-button that makes things happen, with a battery life that will reportedly last within seconds per month. I, personally, want to put a gold chain on my phone, pop it into a waistcoat pocket, and refer to it as my “digital fob watch” whenever I check the time on it. Just to make the point in as snotty and high-handed a way as possible: This is the decadent end of the current innovation cycle, the part where people stop having new ideas and start adding filigree and extra orifices to the stuff we’ve got and call it the future.”

Read the rest on Esquire (it’s worth it).

Some of the stuff on myMoleskine is just gorgeous.

natalia-dar-1024x1024 miss-wah

If you haven’t checked it out before, then you really should.

It’s inspirational.

On a related note…

Got an iPad? There is now NO REASON for you to own what is quite possibly the best iPad app ever made – Paper, by FiftyThree.


That’s right, Paper is now FREEEEEEEEEEEE.

If you have an iPad, you should download it immediately. If you don’t have an iPad, go out and buy one and then download it immediately.

We clear?




Bonuses this week are made up of old stuff that went viral a while back that you really should’ve seen by now and a bit about a new bit of shiny in my life:

  • Creepy things to do on Facebook (some of this stuff happened to me this week – true story)
  • Use Twitter? Play with Promoted Tweets? Here are some fun things you can do.
  • I got a new phone. I smashed the back of my Sony Xperia Z2 (possibly the best Android phone I’ve ever owned) and the lovely people at Sony Mobile have sent me a Z3 as a replacement. The phone is extremely pretty and I feel lucky to have it in my hand. If it was crap, I’d tell you so. So that’s interesting.



Whatley out.




No Comments »

Five things on Friday #110

Things of note for the week ending Friday February 6th, 2015.


This should’ve gone in last week.


Put together by the smart team over at Glass Eye, Rescore.TV is a frivolous website that let’s you mix the latest film trailers with various (and ridiculous) soundtracks.

“Every now and then we pitch an idea we like so much, we agree that if a client doesn’t buy it we’ll just go ahead and do it anyway. Typically this turns out to be hyperbole, not least because we’re not in the business of, well, not doing business. Until now.”

– – – –

“So have a play. We’ve included a few favourites: you haven’t lived until you’ve heard KINGSMAN rescored with Dolly Parton, and FURIOUS 7 with Beastie Boys, oh and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON with Thin Lizzy. Be sure to tell us if you find any killer combos of your own.”

Kingsman with Dolly really is hilarious.

Go play (works best on desktop).

A short and informative piece from the BBC on the Finnish start-ups rising from the ashes of the former global technological giant. Happy reading.

Way back in Five things on Friday #61, I covered the project known as ‘The Secret Life of Heroes’. Featuring awesome artwork such as this –

Who's the fairest?

– and this –


So far, so awesome. Anyway, the uber-talented artist behind this work has just launched a Kickstarter campaign (already smashing his target of $30,000) for a new coffee table book featuring The Secret Life of Heroes (and subsequent Pop Icons series) and it’s called ‘For Your Eyes Only’.


I’ve just backed it.

You should too.



I saw Whiplash last week and (yes I know it’s only February but) it is the best film I’ve seen this year. So so so so so so so so dark; it tackles the themes of talent, obsession, drive, the price of fame, and what it actually takes to be ‘one of the greats’.

It is both exciting and chilling to experience and it will stay with you.

Don’t worry if you’ve missed it at the cinema (although it is still out at certain screens), it’s one of those films that’s already been made available to download on iTunes.

Watch it, you won’t regret it.

A few weeks ago I shared some ideas around the notion of something I’ve started referring to as ‘Trend Churn‘. Based upon a kernel of a thought that I’ve been noodling on for a while, it used the (non?) trend of ‘Normcore’ as a way to prove the dangers of jumping on bandwagons before they have wheels, let alone before they get going.

A certain Mr Edward James Bass read this article and was promoted to write his own take:

“Every once in a while I come across a point of view which inspires me to dig deeper and the latest example is James Whatley of Social @ Ogilvy amusing prediction of ‘Trend Churn’ which suggests we’ll see a rise in marketers reacting to ‘non-trends’ with no basis in valid insight and cites GAP’s ‘Normcore’ inspired ‘Be Normal’ campaign as a prime example.

Its an interesting point of view and so I thought I’d dig into the social data around ‘Normcore’ and see what lessons might be learned – lest I find myself becoming an unwitting victim of ‘Trend Churn’ myself.”

And what he did is actually really quite interesting. In short, proper research and analysis into ‘Normcore'; into its beginnings, its flow, and ultimately, its path into the advertising strategy of a certain ‘Dress Normal’ brand.

It’s well worth a read.


Bonuses this week are:

  • In London this month? You might be interested in The Anderson Tapes
  • 20 Years of Michael Mann – ‘The Heatwave
  • GAP have launched a mini-series nay, micro-series on Instagram. Nice.

Whatley out.

Whatley Out


No Comments »

Five things on Friday #109

Things of note for the week ending Friday January 30th, 2015.


According to my Mailchimp statistics, whenever the Five Things newsletter goes out late I always lose one subscriber. So if that’s you this week, I didn’t like you much anyway.

Shall we?

Five things on Friday constantly evolves. When it first started out it was just a photograph of some notes in a Moleskine but these days it’s a fully-blown weekly task with a newsletter plugged into it with several hundred subscribers. The latest thing I’m trying out is putting my favourite story of the week at the top. In a desperate attempt to convince you to keep reading, I’m leading with my best moves. We’ll see if it pays off…

On that note, OH MY GOD THIS IS SO EXCITING (for me):

This is quite frankly, stellar news.


Coming this Spring (and in tandem with PlayStation killing its ‘Music Unlimited’ service) Spotify is FINALLY launching on Sony PlayStation (and Xperia Smartphones) – YES!

As a massive gamer and Spotify user, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS (fnaw) and it’s going to be brilliant. Look!

“You can also use Spotify while playing games on PS4, enabling you to soundtrack your gaming sessions with your favorite songs in the background. Want something heavy and rocking for an intense Destiny Raid? How about some old school hip hop while taking the field in Madden NFL? With more than 30 million songs and 1.5 billion playlists, Spotify on PlayStation Music has it covered. As we get closer to launch we look forward to telling you about some of the other great features that will be available exclusively through Spotify on PlayStation Music.”

The Sony blog has the details.


First off, and in line with the prediction made last year (see ‘Video Royale’ in this document), Twitter has rolled out its own native video upload service.

You should all be able to do this right now (update your app if not) and WIRED has published a good write up of why it works so well. I’ve tried it and it works OK I guess.

More on those fish later.

Second, on the new Whatsapp Group Direct Message feature front, this seems to be a little rushed. The eminent Mr Mat Morrison ran a little test earlier this week (my Pebble didn’t like it much) and here are the results:


So, I’ve tested Group Messaging on Twitter. Too early to say, but it’s already over for some.

This is what I think we’ve learned:

  • Can only initiate from iOS Twitter mobile client, not from Web (although can participate on Web)
  • Does not appear on iPad or Tweetbot; does appear on TweetDeck – but this is Web TweetDeck; doesn’t appear on my desktop app.
  • Only 20 people in a chat
  • 3rd party cannot delete messages in stream, author can?
  • Adding protected accounts to a chat means that their tweets can be seen in chat. This Confuses the hell out of TweetDeck.
  • No integration with Lists
  • Everyone gets bored of notifications really fast
  • Morse code does not work

^ Good facts ^

Nice one, Mat.



That is all.


Not a sentence I thought I’d write today but whatever; these are cool.

3 6

These Kickstarter (what else?) headphones are pretty darn awesome.

They self-illuminate, they help you get spotted by traffic, they can pulse to your actual heart beat (as well as to the beat of your music), and to top it all off, they’re actually going to get made.


I’ve been reading a lot of Dave Trott recently and this post ‘Life’s a Pitch‘ spoke to me. It’s the tale of how the idea for ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ was pitched and eventually sold in (it’s a 2min read – do it now). I’ve heard of similar stories before (ever heard the one about using a real lion to pitch the idea of Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Look it up, it’s a doozy) but for some reason, I felt compelled to write about this one. Well, not this one. But what it evokes.

At my last agency, 1000heads, we spent a lot of time making the superfans of our clients feel really, really special. From lending them sportscars to flying them to far away places, our job was to ensure that they felt appreciated by the brand that they loved so much.

Like Dave’s story above, we always tried to make our clients feel a part of the story too. They would never understand surprise and delight (and therefore would not pay us to surprise and delight their fans) if they didn’t experience it themselves.

So here’s a challenge: what can you make real for someone next week? What is it that do make, do, or sell that you can turn on the person you’re selling to and give them the experience that you want to create.

Something to think on this weekend.

Oh, and buy Dave’s book.

Whatley out.


Wait, you want more?


Bonuses this week are:

  • Got a big TV with either Chromecast or YouTube? Then you’ll be wanting this 18hrs of massive ocean aquarium footage. Mine’s on right now and it’s excellent.
  • Not a new feature but many people don’t actually know about Google Now’s Shazam-like skills at identifying songs. Here’s how to use it.

Happy now?

Keep Swiping

No Comments »

Five things on Friday #108

Things of note for the week ending Friday January 23rd, 2015.

five things

It’s like I’m psychic, I know. The question has been on your lips all week, right? It’s incredible really, I honestly don’t know how I do it.


- Just stress-testing an Airbus wing -

Japes aside, if you were indeed pondering the above question then please, ponder no more. This rather excellent and informative video (5mins 16 seconds) can tell you all about it. I’m not a massive plane geek (not ‘nerd’ – check the venn diagram) but I really enjoyed it.

2.65m different parts? Amazing.

The wings are made of TAPE. STICKY TAPE. Amazing.

Plane-making factories can knock out one whole plane every two days? AMAZING.

And now, a short interlude on the unexpected benefits behind the (so-called) demise of Google Glass:

Technology needs to be socially acceptable. I think in this case that Google Glass didn’t pass that test. A highlight that op eds on the closure of Google Glass like to look at is how it was ridiculed. This included – the way that it looks on your face. Not everyone wants to look like they’re performing sci-fi cosplay at a convention. It also means social acceptance of issues that are pretty unique today – privacy out in the world.

Now you could say that CCTV and government agencies are watching you anyway and there’s the old, OLD chestnut that if you’re not guilty, what’s the problem?

In fact, I think there is a social recoil to being possibly recorded overtly. Google Glass is not exactly subtle but many humans are also uncomfortable when they get close to a whopping great big TV camera that stands out like dogs’ balls.

The piece from which the above is quoted from is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Good smart thinking.

It’s a book, by Raymond Carver.

It provides a theatrical backbone to the (excellent) film, BIRDMAN.

After seeing (and subsequently waxing everso lyrical about) the latter, someone whose opinion I respect strongly recommended seeking out the former.

I did.

And with the melancholic stories of American life in a timeless era providing a backdrop for loss, desire, and wasted lives; it is an incredibly powerful read.

I am probably stupidly late to this but I don’t care.

Sometimes the words not written hit harder than the ones that are.

Buy the book.

My friend FJ has a Xiaomi Mi3 (sometimes he let’s me play with it).


It is a thing of beauty.

FJ and I share a mutual love of mobile technology and the fact that he has one of the shinier phones in the world is unsurprising to me – he is also a man of taste. But FJ isn’t a thing this week (sorry FJ).

The thing this week is FJ’s replacement handset. Y’see FJ’s Mi3 device suffered an issue with its SIM tray (I believe it got jammed) and FJ needed to get it replaced.

So he did.

I love this.

That is all.

Before we move on to THE NEXT THING, here are a couple of other Xiaomi things you might find interesting. First up is FJ’s review of said phone from August last year. Good insights here and definitely worth reading if you’re after something different for that achingly desperate pocket of yours.

Second thing is this announcement of Xiaomi’s latest flagship, the Mi Note. Fancy.

In my never-ending quest to be a leading source of knowledge on all things Twitter Card related, I thought I’d share this latest nugget that I spotted the other day –

Look at the thing

While this isn’t exactly new news (Twitter was spotted messing around with these back in September of last year) it is the first time that I’ve spotted them in the wild.

They’re weird, they don’t embed (see above), I can’t see a proper use for them (yet) and they seem to be only available to [selected] partners – read: paying advertisers. I’ve tried dicking about on the BIRDOPS page where they’re built but I’m not having much luck.

Oh well. They’re a thing, and now you know about them.


Bonus Twitter thing: ‘Hey! Stop using Instagram!


1Submitted without comment.


Bonus items:


Why not tell someone about it?

Whatley out.


EDIT: ‘3a’ and ‘3b’ this week. That’ll be because I’m an idiot and can’t count (it’s been a long week). Thank you to the super smart person who pointed this out.

1 Comment »