Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tag Galaxy

I found this about a week ago and was sure I'd posted but apparently not. This site is the best visual browser of the Flickr site I have ever seen. Put together as a thesis project by a German guy, it's simply brilliant.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brains has Rhythm!

I’m sure you’ve probably seen this already but just incase I though it deserved the post. Every time I watch this I love it even more – this is genius like Cadbury’s Gorilla. Completely out of leftfield we see something which probably looked completely daft on paper but just works oh so well.

Brains sure do perform best when they're hydrated.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Solar-Powered iPod

Apple recently applied for a US Patent, which detailed an iPod with a solar panel mounted behind the screens (display and touch). A solar panel! Seriously!!

It's obvious that a panel of that size would not be able to provide full power, but it would certainly supplement the battries whenever it was out in the sunlight.

The panel would catch any light passing through the LCD screen and thus avoid any extensive redesign of the device to accommodate a solar panel. The real question is, are we looking at a prototype staging device? Is this merely the first step in a complete roll out for Apple. If successful it would not be difficult for Apple to introduce the same technology in it's iPhones and laptops.

I have to say, I think that is fantastic.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memory Almost Full

Sir Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full digital campaign has been nominated in the NMA best in ‘Music’ category. The campaign, which has been a truly interactive experience, is promoting both the latest release and the legend behind the music. The online elements provide exclusive content such as news, behind-the-scenes, diary and video updates. Memory Almost Full has been completely groundbreaking in its use of digital media.

Although I’ll admit to never having been a huge Paul McCartney fan, I do think this campaign deserves it’s recognition as being truly innovative in its approach.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Motion Capture Leaps Forward

I feel like all I'm doing is posting videos lately. Hopefully folks don't mind this too much?

Anyways, this is a video from Popular Mechanics, featuring the latest (un-assisted) motion capture face-recognition technology. It's pretty amazing stuff.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weezer's Viral Web Round-Up

The new video for Weezer's 'Pork and Beans' is done as a nice round-up of some of the most popular virals from the last year or so. I'm happy to say there were only a few I didn't recognise, otherwise it was a nice stroll down viral memory lane.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Conrad Ostwald's Showreel

I StumbledUpon this and thought it an absolute must for a post. This is Conrad Ostwald's showreel. It's a sample of the various types of digital design and production he is capable of, and believe me, he's no slouch. This is by far the best showreel of a designer or filmmaker that I have seen in a very long time!

Conrad Ostwald Reel from Grapplica on Vimeo.

Friday, May 23, 2008

XO Gen2

OLPC founder Nick Negroponte has unveiled the next generation of the XO Laptop.

One word - awesome!

Half the size of the XO 1.0, the new XO looks more like a book then it does a laptop. Two touch screens mean that there is no keyboard, instead either screen can double as a keyboard or mouse. Of course it isn't actually two touch screens, it's one large screen with a middle fold! Unfortunately it's not due until 2010, but their aiming for $75 and one-watt power consumption which is mind blowing in itself.

Blank Canvas

"Imagine we could start again with a blank canvas!"

Really nice ad.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fiat's Digital Wall

As part of Fiat's new UK concept store, Moving Brands and AKQA have produced this fantastic Digital Installation. Purely as an experience piece, the sole puirpous of the wall is to to create a unique interactive experience to engage, excite and inform customers.

Using nine 40' LCD screens with 48 ceiling and wall mounted infra-red sensors, the installation creates a real-time onscreen interaction designed to replicate the cheeky personality of the new Fiat 500.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

British Bill May Force ISPs to Hand Over Online Activity, Emails, VOIP Calls and Text Messages

It has come to light this week that the British Home Office is currently considering a proposal that would require all British ISPs and telecoms companies to make available billions of records of customer emails, internet usage, VOIP calls, and text messages.

According to Reuters, if passed, the Communications Data Bill would allow police and security services access to this information, with court approval. The aim is to "help security forces in the fight against crime and terrorism."

Currently, all phone calls and text messages within the EU are kept for 12 months as part of an EU anti-terrorism ruling.

"The changes to the way we communicate, due particularly to the Internet revolution, will increasingly undermine our current capabilities to obtain communications data and use it to protect the public", said a statement from The Home Office. "To ensure that our public authorities and law enforcement agencies can continue to use this valuable tool, the government is planning to bring forward the Communications Data Bill."

The draft bill is expected to be released later in the year, but the plan has yet to be discussed by ministers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Micro-Hoo Round 2

I remember remarking recently about a PR instance involving a large Irish beverage company – just when it seemed that the worst thing possible was going to happen the company came out with a “new” plan to reduce the loses while still achieving it’s goal of restructuring. I wondered was plan A ever an actuality or was it a precursor to plan B so as to soften the blow?

So I wonder here, did Microsoft make a bid for the whole company knowing it would not succeed, to be able to come back with a lesser offer which suddenly seems far more acceptable to both parties? Did Microsoft ever want anything more then search?

I doubt it. If this move is successful, Microsoft will jump to second place and become the second most powerful search engine marketing and optimisation company, only next to Google. Suddenly its competition would now be directly with the leading firm, giving it the opportunity to climb the ladder faster than it could do competing with two more powerful companies.

So, with bated breath, we wait. What wil Mr. Yang and his board do. Either way I think a speedy decision will be made considering all the internal and external pressures.

Virtual Real-ity Shopping

A new deal signed with Ikea and H&M sees a whole range of Sims2 products set for launch this summer. Through an online content package, The Sims 2 Ikea Home Stuff will be available in late June, and H&M, which signed on with the game last year to provide The Sims 2 H&M Fashion Stuff, will feature 'Sims 2'-themed products in stores, complete with themed hang tags and in-store signage.
"It really is the ultimate in brand engagement," said Steve Seabolt, VP-global brand development for "The Sims," an Electronic Arts label game. "It really is a way to bring a product or a service into your virtual life, become familiar with it, play with it and, hopefully, incorporate it into your real life."

The collection is the result of a contest held by "The Sims," in which players could create items and showcase them in online fashion shows. The winning piece will be featured in several hundred stores around the world.

Ikea aren't planning a competition to see "Sims" products in Ikea stores, however, the partnership does provide players with virtual versions of 60 of Ikea's well-known products.

Last year Ford also put in place a similar deal which saw Sims2 become the largest Ford dealer in the world, having sold 2.5 million vehicles.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Four Ideals to Work

One of my favourite illustartors (and designers) Anthony Burrill, has taken the theme of 'World of Work' and created four stunning covers for June's Wallpaper edition. Based on Burrill's famous poster, the pieces are unmistakable and in my humble opinion, both striking and beautiful.

Google Automatch

Tomorrow, May 20 2008, when you log into your adwords account there will be a new option. Google’s new ‘Automatic Matching’ feature will sit as a new checkbox (as with google content it will be pre-checked and auto-enabled) ready to use.You have probably heard about this or at least seen initial discussion floating around the blogosphere but how much thought have you actually given it?

Google ‘Automatic Matching’ will do the follow:
Automatching shows your ads on search queries not already captured by your keywords by analysing the landing page, ad, and keyword contents and shows your ads on search queries relevant to this information. The algorithms continually monitor the performance on these queries and adjust accordingly. The aim is to show your ads on queries that yield high CTRs and CPCs lower than your ad group's current average CPC. Of course your spend cannot exceed your budget, and it also won't affect the traffic you're currently receiving.

So in short….. well to be honest, I don’t know. It sounds good on paper but I’ll need to wait to see the actual performance before making any real decisions.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Open Screen Project

Early this month, Adobe launched The Open Screen Project. The project aims to increase the proliferation of Flash and Air installations across all platforms and devices, both mobile and stationary. Part of this also involves the removal of all licensing fees for their next release of players.
Currently project supporters include “Adobe, ARM, Chunghwa Telecom, Cisco, Intel, LG Electronics Inc., Marvell, Motorola, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Verizon Wireless, and leading content providers, including BBC, MTV Networks, and NBC Universal”.

Adobe says, “The Open Screen Project is dedicated to driving consistent rich Internet experiences across televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics.”

Specifically, this work will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash® Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

For everyone working across the digital landscape this is exciting news.

Revolutionary Goop!

A Californian-based company, Sunrgi, have hit the headlines this month with news that they may have revolutionised the solar energy collection business. Sungri is claiming it can collect twice as much sunlight as other photovoltaic designs and convert it to electricity for 5 cents a kilowatt-hour, on par with fossil fuels.

The company’s technology uses a system based on lenses, which focus the sunlight onto photovoltaic cells and allow for increased numbers of photons to be collected by smaller numbers of cells. This means the collector arrays need less photovoltaic cells then other systems, reducing their cost considerably.

The downside is that there is an extreme over heating problem. As the photovoltaic cells are extremely fragile this is a huge problem. It’s one, however, which Sungri claim to have solved with ‘goop’. Paul Sidlo, co-founder of Sungri, said the nanotube compound is mounted on the back of the solar cells to conduct heat away. The company plans to begin production in about 15 months.

The result isn’t your average solar module. If they can pull this off, the technology might be revolutionary.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is Social Media?

I think most people, certainly those in the business, know what social media is, for everyone else though I came across this great little video:

Social Media in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Guitar Hero 4

At the moment I play five games:
GTA4 (XBOX 360)
Guitar Hero 3 (XBOX 360)
Bowling (Wii)
Mario Kart (Wii)

My gaming world is pretty complete, and extremely content. Then, today, I StumbleUpon this……

This month GameInformer has a preview of Guirtar Hero IV. Guitar Hero 4! So what’s it all about? New instruments, new songs (a lot more by the looks of it), character customisation, instrument customisation and new game modes - Jam Mode, Advanced Studio mode and……. Creation modes - to allow players to create and share their own songs.

It really looks like Activision and Neversoft are holding nothing back this time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nokia to choose function over form?

Last Friday was Nokia’s annual shareholders meeting. In a series of bold and driving statements, CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo completely redirected the entire company. "Our goal is to act less like a traditional manufacturer, and more like an internet company," Kallasvuo said. "Companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft are not our traditional competitors, but they are major forces that must be reckoned with. Make no mistake: We are taking on these challenges seriously and aggressively."

Perhaps this isn’t so surprising considering the recent movement of mobile technology. The iPhone and its many pretenders have swept onto the market and brought the kind of hype which Nokia have failed to fully achieve in some time. Kallasvuo, I think, has realised this and is now considering how Nokia can deliver innovation that will get them those kind of results.

Currently Apple has a smartphone, and both Google and Microsoft each have similar projects in the works. So to combat this Nokia has been restructured into two segments: devices and services. The previous system had three divisions: mobile phones, multimedia, and enterprise solutions. Nokia also have the acquisition of GPS specialist Navteq on the horizon, which should enable their movement into new markets, such as navigation systems for pedestrians and location-based mobile advertising.

"When we look at it with the eyes we have now, when regarding pedestrian navigation, map services, digital maps, we are even more excited about the opportunities than when making the decision" to buy Navteq, said Kallasvuo. "I ask for some more patience from the shareholders. There is quite a lot better to be seen ahead."

So what does it all mean?

Well it looks to me like Nokia will make a noticeable shift away from hardware development towards a more precision driven approach to specialised software development and integration. That’s not to say product development won’t be based around new styled handsets, but it will be primarily driven by the capabilities and function of these new devices.
Let’s just hope that the future isn’t too androgynous!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You can't see it, but it sounds beautiful

Much of my life revolves around digital. I work for a digital agency. I use a huge amount of social networking, email and blogs. I have accounts with Flickr, Youtube, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn…… and the list goes on. The thing is, there is something in my life which I take great pleasure in, and is decidedly undigital.

I love to drive.

I don’t own a particularly fantastic car, but it’s got a bit of power and it handles like a dream. Having said that I’d be lying if I said I’ve never dreamed of sitting into the seat of high powered sports car and letting go! So when I heard the rumours about an affordable Ferrari I was bloody excited. Now lets be clear, affordable as in you'll only have to sell one of your children to pay for it instead of the usual two

Unfortunately details have been a bit sketchy. There were some fake drawings a while back. Spy shots have trickled in. A video or two. But now things are firming up. We now know that it will be called the California, or GT. It's expected to share its platform and significant chunks of running gear with similar grand tourers from Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Still no pictures, but go to the teaser site and listen to it purr!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Microsoft CEO uses Mac

I couldn't help myself - it's hilarious!

Monday, May 12, 2008

BAQ: the new Brand Measurement

The shift towards utilisation of online social media options and user generated content (UGC) for online marketing campaigns is no secret. Most major brands interacting with their consumers have realised that the best way to promote their product is to let the public do it for them. Sure, it would once have been considered crazy to hand over your brand reputation to the public but the potential pitfalls have been realised to be very low, compared to the possible advantages.

It remains true that lifetime value of the customer, and return on investment remain the bottom line metrics for overall online marketing success, but there is no doubt that social media elements of an integrated campaign not only provide a unique contribution but require a unique set of metrics to analyse them.

Nielsen Online just-launched the Digital Strategic Services (DSS) group to monitor social media online. The new division will focus on managing a brands online reputation through a structured and strategic plan. The key focus of these plans will be monitoring the "Brand Advocacy Quotient," or BAQ score. The BAQ score will rely both the quality of the product and the quality of customer service as a function of product experience.

As blogging, social networks, user forums and other forms of UGC have become more prevalent and mainstream, it has become extremely important for brands to consider the ‘reviews’ which users are leaving in the vastness of cyberspace. The multitude of different locations the modern net user has to express their opinion is almost limitless, and if one doesn’t exist that they are happy with, the average user should have no difficulty creating a new space.

According to Nielsen, “UGC is now vitally important to improving customer service, enabling quick response (including alteration of products) to customer feedback/complaints, identifying needs that present new-product opportunities, gathering competitive intelligence, and making C-level decisions on investments and even core business objectives.”

“84% of companies that are best in class at these capabilities and integrating them into decision-making and operations reported year-over-year improvement in customer retention rates”, according to Marketing Vox.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Perhaps the best desk ever?

I StumbledUpon this great office desk from Tom Spina and the geek in me had to share it with you.

Not to be missed

I spotted on ticketmaster that the Nextmen are playing in The Button Factory in two weeks, Friday 23rd May. This is a Not To Be Missed gig. Mostly unknown to the Irish music scene, the Nextmen are similar to Zero7, DJ Format, Ugly Duckling or Roots Manuva.

I love the low-fi digital representations in this video.....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Microsoft goes after Facebook

The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an article fueling the rumour that Microsoft are interested in pushing there 1.6% share of Facebook all the way. In an attempt to step up to the online plate in the wake of Yahoo declining the proposed purchase deal, Microsoft are said to have informally approached Facebook to gauge its interest in selling itself to Microsoft, according to a 'reliable' source.

The article states that "Microsoft's investment bankers recently contacted Facebook as it looked likely the Redmond, Wash., software company might back away from buying Yahoo". It followed by clarifying that there are no formal talks between the two companies, currently.

Facebook and Microsoft have declined to comment on any aspect of the story.

Grand Theft Auto 4 sells more than $320 million

Rockstar have done it agian (if there was any doubt?). One week in and $320 million sold. Having played it I'm not surprised - the game is a huge sprawling world of crime and destruction. Impressive doesn't do it justice. It's actually more like a Second Life style online environment where you can do pretty much whatever you like.

“Retailers say roughly four out of every 10 Xbox 360 consoles sold also included the sale of a copy of ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,’” said Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

Forget your standard stick...

I saw this and couldn't help but post it! I'm a gadget man at heart - PSP, iPod, Psion (back in the day), the first StarTac... I've had them all. So when something funky comes along some small part of me gets the shivers of excitement.

I posted below about the cut wire USB flash drive but if you want something less industrial and manly how about a nice slice of cake!
These freshly baked 2.0 flash drives come in Black Forrest, Strawberry Torte, Fruit Plate and French Mille-Feuille flavours, with capacities up to 4GB.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Video Game Only Search Engine

Game Skoot is a new search engine, entirely for games.

I play a lot of PSP, Xbox360, PS3 and Wii, so every now again I search for a review or game guide, so I was extremely happy to see this.

The stand out features however are the Hot Stuff, news and cheats. The Hot Stuff tab is a collection of stories from the top games sites on the web in various categories. As you can imagine the news and cheats areas are just what they should be – all the latest reviews and news about just released games, up coming games and those that are turning into old favourites. And the cheats tab? Well as good as you may be, sometimes it’s just more fun running around Liberty City with a full arsenal and a pimped out ride!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Webby Winners Announced!

If you got on the short list you'd be over the moon but today find out who the winners are. The 12th Annual Webby Awards Winners List has been released.

For me, personally, the best news was when it was announced that Stephen Colbert was to be honoured for his use of Social Networking and digital interaction with the public, for his show The Colbert Report, as person of the year!

Also worth a look is the Official Honoree's List. I'm extremely happy to say that Cybercom got onto the Business to Consumer: Rich Media Advertising list, for it's Vodafone Mobile Internet campaign.

Yahoo and McAfee Provide Safer Surfing

Yesterday, Yahoo and McAfee announced the formation of a partnership to integrate McAfee's SiteAdvisor technology into Yahoo Search. SiteAdvisor tracks Web site security issues, identifies sites known to contain adware, malware, spyware, phishing, and spam. The move Follows on from Google's lead, who introduced a system to flag risky search results in 2007.

The new SearchScan feature in Yahoo Search provides red warning messages about the risks posed by Web sites that appear in Yahoo Search results lists.

Vish Makhijani, senior VP and general manager of Yahoo Search, said "Searching on the Web can present a minefield of spyware, malware, and other malicious sites that can cause serious harm to your PC and cost you valuable time and money." "We are taking steps to make you feel safe when searching the Web -- warning you about dangerous sites before you click on them."

According to Makhijani, "No other search engine today offers you this level of warning before visiting sites. Period."

It’s great to see two huge companies creating synergies between their specialised applications. Hopefully the prospect of further collaborations isn’t a far fetched notion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Adsense for Search

Adsense for search now allows users to place a custom search field on their site. By custom I mean they can completely adjust the look and feel of the search box; but more importantly, they can also control what sites are searched. This goes one step further, as all PPC results shown are also targeted to the results shown, users should be more likely to find what they are looking for and clickthrough. This of course directly increases potential earnings!

So there you have it, or at least that’s as Google would have you have it. I haven’t had a chance to give the system a full run through so I’m reluctant to give it a positive or negative, but I would be concerned that those not knowledgeable about the facility wouldn’t be aware of the ‘hidden’ constraints being placed on their search.

As I said – more investigation is required. For now check out the Google Video explaining it all. At the very least their Software Engineer reminds me of the kid in Superbad and I had a chuckle.

Google Attempts to Patent Ad Consumption Behavior

A number of threads this weekend picked up on a Google patent application recently busmitted. Apparently Google is patenting targeted video advertising behaviors so that you would have to watch a set amount of commercials to be able to view an entire show.

The "Targeted Video Advertising" patent sets out the following clauses:

  1. 'Users may be allowed to skip particular commercials, but required to watch or accept a set number of commercials in order to watch a program'
  2. 'The system…may also require the user to fully watch at least four promotions before the program will continue.'
  3. 'The profile includes some demographic information of the user, such as income, age, and gender. This information may be obtained when the user registers for the video service.'

None of this sounds too evil or insidious but at the same time, there are now so many other options that allow commercial free viewing, why would you go down this route?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Enter the Nexus

There are many tools out there to visualise networks; I’ve looked at various programs that can visualise dynamic interactions between individuals. However, so far, nothing has come close to Nexus in terms of usability, ease of interpretation or automated profile build, for Social Networks.
Nexus automatically retrieves your profile information from your account. Representing friends as dots, each person who is a friend is connected by a line, with thicker lines for people who also share interests.

What I think is most interesting is that as soon as I ran Nexus on my own profile, the result was exactly as I imagined it would be. My groups of friends appeared in their own clusters when they have no contact except me, and the individuals that span several groups became focal points of contact between groups.

This is how my circle of friends looks:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Planet Is A Pretty Great Place, Pity We’re Destroying It

This is one of the best ads I’ve seen in ages. Forget for a moment though that it is an ad. It’s not hard to think of future generations seeing this and wondering what it was like to have a planet like this, and then wonder how stupid we were not to preserve it. TheDiscovery Channel’s in-house team has put together this smart little piece.

Discovery Channel: I Love The World

Innovative Search Engine

I Stumbled Upon SearchMe and had to share - it's similar interface to Apple's Cover Flow.