Archive for August, 2009

Ooo-er, Mao-AAAMMM!

August 27, 2009

maoam 2This story has tickled me. Courtesy of the Daily Mail (why am I surprised at this?), the story reports how a father is ‘furious’ over ‘pornographic sweet wrappers’. Oh yes. Apparently Maoam sweets, although delectable and very chewy, are actually, soft porn.

The image, as you can see, *clearly* show’s the lime getting a bit too much pleasure from his fellow fruity friends.

Clearly someone's creative juices were flowing...

Clearly someone's creative juices were flowing...

I don’t think there’s anything else I can say on this. I don’t even know where I stand on the matter. Does Mr Lime really have a ‘lurid’ wink upon his limey green face? Are the cherries enjoying being licked that little bit too much? I’m torn. The more I look at the picture, the more I think furious Mr Simpkins may have a point. But would a child ever notice a tiny wrapper like that and immediately deduce it was pornographic? I think not.

Read the original article in all its glory here.

Harry Potter technology is taking over…

August 26, 2009
What are you doing?!

What are you DOING?!

I’m going to say this up front: I’m not a fan. Magic, broomsticks, talking animals, flying buses…no thanks. In my book, it’s not a proper movie unless it ends with an enormous thermonuclear explosion. You can quote me on that.

I like good, solid, real technology. So imagine my chagrin at finding that some of the newest technologies out there seem intent on bringing the Harry Potter world to life?

First off, we have scientists developing invisibility cloaks. Professor Ulf Leonhardt at St. Andrews University has said that he expects to make “real advances in the field of invisibility” within the next two years.  He is also quoted as saying that the technology involves “geometry, light and a wee bit of magic”. Urgh.

Secondly, we have video adverts running in magazines – something very similar to Harry Potter’s Daily Prophet. The US publication Entertainment Weekly recently ran an article with a video advertisement that would play as soon as the page was opened. The device contains an extremely thin screen and a minute speaker and is, apparently, tough enough to survive being thrown by even the most enthusiastic paperboy.

In my opinion, this is the thin edge of the wedge. If this sort of thing goes unchecked, how long can it be until we have talking animals?!

Why game?

August 21, 2009
Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that gamers are less healthy, fatter, and more depressed than non-gamers. CDC’s Dr James Weaver told the BBC: “Video game players also reported lower extraversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video-game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status.”
Could he be a gamer?

Could this adonis be a gamer?

Not really surprising when you consider that they spend most of their free time sitting in front of a computer screen, eating high fat, refined foods and taking less exercise than a narcoleptic sloth with a nasty case of glandular fever. Despite recent attempts to make gaming more healthy, it remains a very passive pass-time.

So why do it? Well, let’s face it, in our daily lives we just don’t get to stomp around in big-stompy-robots, blowing up other big-stompy-robots.

Not as much as we would like anyway.


Augmented Reality: Never mind the buzz

August 19, 2009

Augmented Reality (AR) has been a favourite topic of mine since watching BBC Click’s 2007 CeBIT report. Back then it was a French company, Total Immersion, demonstrating some pretty impressive computer wizardry, merging virtual creations with real-life objects, in real-time. The potential seemed immediately obvious and far-reaching. Not just in terms of entertainment and gaming but in several other industries too, specifically publishing, education and health. It can also be used as a PR tool by adding unprecedented levels of interactivity to campaigns, as well as offering exclusive virtual content to followers of viral campaigns.

It looks as though the first mass adoption of the technology will occur in one of the major growth industries since 2007: mobile apps. Apple has been quick to file AR patents and smaller companies demonstrating the latest mobile applications are increasingly covered by influential (tech) media. New Media Age recently ran an excellent article documenting some of the innovative ways brands have used AR on mobile, which is well worth a read.

Since the 2007 CeBIT report, the buzz around AR has increased substantially and according to Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycle, is well on the way to reaching the peak of inflated expectancy. Companies like Total Immersion now find themselves vying for the limelight with a host of competitors. With my PR hat on, it’s almost as interesting to witness this tussle as it is to observe the compelling future-solutions AR continues to tempt us with.

The hype surrounding AR will continue to grow and companies trying to establish their particular flavour of AR will struggle to cut through the noise. They cannot expect to simply sit atop the crest of the wave and hope for the best. They need proactive PR strategies (in addition to solid business models) to ensure they’re not swept away with the backwash when the wave breaks. It’s not necessarily a question of providing the most captivating concept videos, or even the best technology, it’s all about finding the right ways to reach the right people. And that’s where PR has consistently played a central role.

Putting PR to one side, AR really is an exciting technology to keep an eye on, and I look forward to reporting back when it does reach the peak of Gartner’s cycle in 1 – 2 years time. By this point I imagine it will have transcended tech media, well and truly establishing itself in the mainstream.


“Zombies pose serious risk”

August 18, 2009
Its inevitable

It's inevitable

Researchers in Canada have come to the disturbing conclusion that we will need “to hit [the undead] hard and hit them often” in order to have any chance of surviving a zombie outbreak.

Professor Robert Smith? (sic), from the University of Ottawa, came to this disturbing conclusion after using mathematical modelling techniques to plot the course of a potential zombie take-over. He found that only a series of frequent attacks of increasing ferocity would have any chance of stemming the tide – and that tactics such as capturing or curing the zombies would be doomed to fail.

However, the research also has implications for the spread of highly infectious diseases, such as new deadly strains of swine or bird flu. Pigs might fly, I hear you say, but it’s true.

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London and a government advisor on containing the spread of swine flu, responded: “The paper considers something that many of us have worried about…what would be a feasible way of tackling an outbreak of a rapidly spreading zombie infection?” Professor Ferguson further commented to the BBC: “My understanding of zombie biology is that if you manage to decapitate a zombie then it’s dead forever. So perhaps they are being a little over-pessimistic when they conclude that zombies might take over a city in three or four days”.

So, when the inevitable zombie apocalypse comes, it’s essential that we clamp down on them fast and hard.

I think that’s something we can all agree on.

Zombie apocalypse

Crackdown needed?

Boom Box

August 6, 2009

Apple faced  a burst  of negative PR this week, after an iPod Touch exploded.

Ken Stanborough accidentally dropped his daughter’s iPod: “It made a hissing noise,” he told The Times, “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough rather sensibly hurled the gadget out of the back door: “Within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air”.

Touchy subject: the offending iPod

Touchy subject: the offending iPod

Interestingly, the media did not attack Apple for the technical problems. And with good reason. For years now, hardly a month has gone by without a news story on someone who was singed, scorched or otherwise lightly toasted by an exploding battery. Unfortunately, the elements that make up our current Lithium Ion batteries are just not very stable and high-speed impacts or extreme heat can tip them over the edge. Despite this the technology is still pretty safe. How many people do you know who have seen their phone or laptop spontaneously explode? It is extremely rare, but when it does happen companies are understandably keen to keep a lid on it.

No surprise then that most of the negative fallout focused on how Apple’s legal team handled the incident: trying to silence the Stanborough family with a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for a refund. That was when then the real fireworks began.

Benson the Fish – RIP

August 6, 2009

Another classic story in the news this week – from last week’s story about cheese, to this week’s, about fish. Not wanting to seem food-obsessed, I’d like to point out that it’s not the eating kind, but the living kind. Well, actually, Benson, the fish in question, has now died. He leaves behind him the accolade of being Britain’s oldest, and largest carp, weighing in at a whopping 64lbs! Fatty fish eh? He survived for 25 years, and was caught, (and put back) over 60 times. I suppose being 64lbs meant he didn’t really have speed on his side, hence the reason why he was caught so much.

Benson...may he rest in that fishy heaven in the sea...

Benson...may he rest in that fishy heaven in the sea...

However, the point of my story is this: is it a slow news day?! This story made the FRONT page of The Times. The Times?! It then achieved a full page on page 4 of the same newspaper. Not being funny, but aren’t there other, slightly more important things to write about, such as the latest troops and their lack of equipment, or how a man has been arrested in connection to the Milly Dowler murder after all these years – that could have made the front page.

It’s a great light-hearted story, but I’m still amazed it was given so much space. Mind you, that doesn’t amaze me as much as the fact that the fish was 64 lbs. That’s more than half of my weight. Mental!

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