Five things on Friday #85

Things of note for the week ending August 15th, 2014.

Whirlwinds of light

— Whirlwinds of Light, via This is Colossal.

1. Smartphones leak, dumb phones don’t
International master of misadventure,  John McAfee, spoke at Def Con recently and one of the things that picked up as a headline over at the Wall Street Journal was the following:

‘On the subjects of privacy and security, McAfee said smartphones are spying on American consumers, who don’t bother to read user agreements. “The most promising privacy thing is stupid phones,” he said. “I’m dumping all my smart phones.”

He said he had started brownlist.com, to collect complaints against large corporations. He also said he has an app for Android phones that tracks privacy permissions for various apps.’

A few things:

  • This is not news.
  • This could be the start of a new trend against all things privacy-related.
  • I get the impression that this is especially not news to the people it matters most to.

Something to think on maybe?

If you want to stay clean, and prevent THE MAN from getting his dirty hands on your lovely, lovely data. Go get a dumbphone. Like a Nokia 106 for example.

2. There’s a hexagonal hurricane on Saturn

Hexagonal Hurricanes

The above was first sighted back in the 1980s, when the NASA Voyager probes flew past Saturn for the first time. In the 30+ years it takes Saturn to pass around the Sun, we can finally get to see it again.

And the New York Times has made a gorgeous, sub-three-minute video to help tell the story -

This is my favourite item this week. By a long shot.

- via Mental Floss

3. Planes IRL vs Planes Hollywood-style

0aircraftcutaways-002

0aircraftcutaways-007

I really, really liked this photo-essay. Interesting for not only seeing how crazy big planes can be (in contrast of your average human being) but also gaining an insight into how plane scenes are shot on film.

Check it out.

4. Samsung + New Ad Space
I’ve never owned a Samsung phone (something about the version of Android that it runs combined with the achingly boring product design really puts me off) however every now and then you have to applaud the epic trolling enjoyed by its marketing team over Apple (‘Screen Envy‘ definitely made me chuckle).

One of Samsung’s latest was this little video poking fun at ‘wall huggers’ – aka – iPhone users who have to sit next to plug sockets all the time while their [poorly-powered] iPhones charge. It seems, not happy with its near-15m views, Samsung has taken this down another level. Literally.

Samsung wall huggers

‘Samsung Galaxy S5 with Ultra Power Saving Mode. So you have the power to be anywhere but here’

A super smart use of ambient media in conjunction with an already well-established viral video. Contextually relevant and guaranteed to hit your target market. I think this is great.

Well done, Samsung.

Sidenote: I guess this makes me a Samsung blogger now, right? Christ.

5. Behind the Scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy’s aliens
Seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? If not, why not? It’s not ‘just another superhero movie’, nor is it ‘one of those Marvel films that I know nothing about’ neither is it ‘a film for geeks’. GotG is probably the summer blockbuster of 2014 (with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes running a close second).

So yeah, see it.

Now that’s out of the way, Fast Co.Create has published a [completely spoiler free] behind the scenes look at some of the make up and special effects that went into creating the aliens that appear in said film.

GOTG Aliens

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Bonuses this week:

  • This Louis CK interview is a long read, but both excellent and worth your time.
  • Anagramatron hunts for tweets that are anagrams of each other. It’s so brilliantly bizarre that it’s my recommended Tumblr of the week!
  • If you’re a male social media expert who happens to be vegan, single, and an active Tinder user, I’d recommend not reading this AMAZING comic strip.

 

Did you like this stuff? Did you find any of its interesting? If you did, do me a favour and tell your friends. I’d really appreciate it, cheers.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Originality + Mobile 2

This promoted tweet appeared in my timeline yesterday.

You click through and are given ten reasons to switch to Samsung. Where do I start?

‘Why not Switch?’
Nokia’s ‘Switch to Lumia’ campaign launched in August 2012 and has been a key part of its Lumia messaging ever since, e.g.: this video from 2013 -

Yeah, this ad branded content pokes a bit of fun at competitors, but use another’s campaign line it does not.

Promoted Tweets
Rule 1: if you’re going to promote a tweet, add an image. Twitter has a feature whereby all images uploaded to the service directly (displaying on the pic.twitter url) automatically display inline. Brands rarely use the functionality to its fullest potential but at least some of them try. Take this tweet from HTC, for example -

Pro tip: images in tweets drive more engagement.

While we’re talking about the S5
The link in Samsung’s tweet above (after listing the ten ‘reasons’ why you should switch) pushes the Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S4 Mini, and the Galaxy Note 3. At last week’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung announced its latest addition to the Galaxy family, the Galaxy S5. And yet the link pushes the older products. Don’t get me wrong, while the S5 wasn’t the best handset announced at MWC, it was certainly Samsung’s best. So why not promote your newest and best product to your fans and followers? Unless of course you have a shed load of older stock to shift before said S5 launched…

The ten ‘reasons’ why you should switch
This is excellent.

Reason 1: ‘Small screens are so last year’ – which would be fine, except there’s a link to the Galaxy S4 Mini at the bottom of the linked page. Is it possible to troll yourself?

Reason 2: Battery life. Well, not really. More like battery accessibility. The first comment on the article nails it: ‘if only Samsung would fit a battery that could last a whole day, I wouldn’t need to change it’.

Reason 3: Expandable Memory! In other words: our version of Android takes up so much space on our phones, you’re definitely going to need more (look who comes last on the infographic below – ouch).

which

Reasons 4 & 5: Apps! They’re on Android and you can switch them too apparently. This point is so good, they made it twice. Also: ducks representing apps? Haven’t seen that before.

Reason 6: We’ve not only crammed your already-limited-with-memory phone with videos but also a piece of bloatware called ‘My Galaxy’ – you’ll love it!

Reason 7: You can share stuff to other devices.
(I don’t know a device that can’t do this)

Reason 8: Widgets. Are these exclusive to Samsung?

Reason 9: Look at our meaningless awards!

Reason 10: This is my personal favourite. ‘We’ve got your back with our 24mth warranty!’
This is the picture that accompanies it -

switch_article_image10

The warranty doesn’t cover water damage. Not. Kidding.

This post initially started out as a way to highlight the ridiculous advertising move of using a competitor’s key line to promote your own product (after it had been promoted into my stream, bear in mind). Once I’d scratched the surface, the whole thing just became more and more ridiculous.

If you want a GREAT Android phone, there are tons to choose from – and the Galaxy S series would no doubt feature in that list. But please! Do your research, listen to a great podcast, ask a mobile geek friend, hell – even ask me! I guarantee you’ll get a more informed batch of reasons than those listed above.

This stuff annoys me. Badvertising really annoys me.

Come on guys, you can do better than this.

 

 

Related reading: Originality + Mobile 1

 

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What phone should I get?

Someone recently asked me:

A good pal in the pub asked what was the best phone apart from the iPhone. What do you think? James Whatley you know about these matters. What’s the best out there on balance?

My response?
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If you’re not looking for an iPhone. Then your choice is Windows Phone or Android. If you want amazing photos, look at the Lumia 925 or the Lumia 1020 (see yesterday’s post for more on that one). The latter outperforms the former in the photography stakes, however the 925 has a more aesthetically pleasing industrial design. 

If photography isn’t your number one reason for having a phone (oh and if, like me, you can’t get on with the Windows Phone 8 OS) then it’s a tie between the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One – I own and adore the latter.

Finally, if budget is an issue, I’d look at the Google Nexus 4. It is, at the time of writing, Google’s flagship device and is merely an astonishing £159 SIM free on Google Play.

That’s all I got.

Whatley on a phone
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Disagree with this? Let me know.

But while you’re at it, let me know which phones you recommend when people ask you this same question. Those of you that don’t reply with ‘Let me ask Whatley’, that is…

 

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The Samsung Galaxy S III

An opinion from someone who’s read the internet -

Announced last Thursday as, believe it or not, the third device in the Samsung Galaxy S range. The SGSIII was all set to inherit the crown of ‘biggest selling non-iPhone / smartphone of the year’ from last year’s winner, the SGSII.

At least, that’s what we thought.

You can’t argue with the numbers – in 2011, the SGSII was a fantastically popular phone and Samsung, with its large screen, speedy graphics and TouchWiz’d version of Android – hit the sweet spot for consumer awareness + desire for the best Android phone on the market.

Admittedly, I was never a fan. I prefer my Androids to be pure Google experiences and both HTC + Samsung (amongst others) like to skin their OS accordingly. It’s a bit rubbish and generally gets in the way of being able to actually use the phone… but still, I can see why some people like it.

I’m rambling. Let’s get cut to the chase -

Is the SGSIII a worthy successor, is it actually any good?

Before I answer that question, let’s make one thing very clear:

I have not had hands on with this device at all.

What you are about to read is pure conjecture based upon the opinions of trusted friends & peers, images & video from the launch event, and several years working in and around the mobile industry.

Understood? Good. I don’t exactly love this kind of post, but to those of you that are still here, thanks – there’s a few things I’d like to cover -

1: The Samsung SGSIII is ugly + made of cheap plastic

As per my note above, I agree with Eric’s comment purely based upon the photos, videos and posts I have seen from the launch event. But even so, he’s not alone, and the man has a point. And while it might be harsh (I’ve seen worse devices), we – the industry at large – were just expecting something more.

And actually, while we’re at it, when your software is fundamentally the same across different handsets, design is a fundamental key selling point. It’s why I rock a Lumia 800 and it’s why I’ll recommend the HTC One X over the SGSIII should someone ask me about Android phones.

2: The Samsung SGSIII features some a sweet innovation

The word ‘innovation’ is bandied about too fast and loose these days however, reading this post TechCrunch shortly after the SGSIII announcement I was actually quite impressed by one particular paragraph -

“The Galaxy S III looks deep into your eyes and only turns off when you do,” noted Jean Daniel Ayme to the audience. That is to say, the screen will note when your eyes are on it and will stay “awake” for as long as you look at it. “It knows precisely what we are doing and our intentions.”

Now this is more like it.

While ‘creepy’ is a word I’ve heard a couple of times since discussing this particular addition to the handset, having a phone that turns on *when I look at it* is actually kind of awesome. I like this, a lot. Proper ethnographical research, informing technological innovation. More of this please.

3. TouchWiz Android is horrible

As Android skins go, HTC Sense is pretty darn ugly but, TouchWiz takes it to a whole new level. If you want a ‘pure’ Google experience with Android, buy a Nexus. Other device manufacturers can’t be trusted.

4. The SGSIII is a HUGE disappointment

As much as I dislike their current advertising, the HTC One X is probably my favourite Android device on the market today and the SGSIII has done nothing to change that. But don’t just take my word on it, the out pour of disappointment around this particular phone launch is staggering -

For example – ‘How Samsung Broke My Heart‘, ‘The Galaxy SIII is a “Me Too” Device and a Disappointment‘ and ‘Dear Internet: I am incredibly sorry for over-hyping the disappointment that is the Galaxy S III‘ are just three well-written and well-informed pieces that I’ve read over the past couple of days, of which I am sure there are many more.

Sad times.

And, even though I happily acknowledge that I haven’t even played with the SGSIII yet, I can safely say: if you’re in the market for an Android phone, look at the Galaxy Nexus or check out the HTC One X.

Cheers.

 

6 Comments »

Originality + Mobile

Or lack thereof.

First, in 2009, this -


[Bungee jumping, shot on a Nokia N86]

Then, in 2010, this -


[A rollercoaster review of the N97 Mini, shot with the N97 Mini]

So far so good…

Straight after that, we got to work on this -


[Shoot what you like with the Nokia N8, shot on the Nokia N8]

With the winners being invited along to this -


[A zero G flight, shot on the Nokia N8]

Great stuff.

Later, in 2011, this appeared -


[A rollercoaster review 'unboxing' of the SGSII, shot with a ?]

Brilliant? Yes. Familiar? Slightly.

Admittedly they went one better, with this -


[A skydive review 'unboxing' of the SGSII, shot with a ?]

Well done.

Imagine my surprise when, today in 2012 this appeared on TV for HTC  -


[A free-fall fashion shoot with the HTC One, shot with a ?]

Amazing. Not.

Seriously, three years of this now… come along guys, at least try to do something different. It genuinely doesn’t matter who had the idea first or even who managed to push it to the next level. All we’re asking is for some originality.

Samsung was blatant, HTC is just plain late.

And while it’s fair to say, admittedly, everything is a remix; if Sony can create something new, you can too.

-

Do. Better.

 

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