In a past incarnation of my career I travelled a lot. And by a lot, I mean a shitload. I was in airports and on airplanes a couple of times a week minimum, and often a lot more. Like a lot of travellers, I found both a lot of humour and great comfort in the SkyMall catalogue. It was something that was familiar, always there for you, and decidedly entertaining … although somehow I don’t think that it was entertaining in the way the company wanted it to be.
When you settled in on a flight and found that the SkyMall book in the seat pocket was a brand new edition, packed with all sorts of ridiculous new goodies? Didn’t matter what time it was or how tired you were … your next couple of hours of seat time were set.
It’s not a surprise that SkyMall has now bitten the dust. In fact, it’s a surprise that it lasted this long. But I will still take a minute or two to mourn. And I suspect there are a lot of frequent flyers out there who will do the same. An institution has truly passed.
So long, SkyMall. It was fun.
Ever needed a quick and dirty way to take a look at the EXIF data embedded in a photo? Take a peek at Jeffery’s EXIF Viewer – it works with damn near any photo format and includes all of the EXIF fields, something that a lot of so-called “pro” photo suites don’t do. Even better, it’s browser based so there is zero overhead and zero system investment so you can use it when you are away from your own computer or on a mobile device*. If you can get at a browser or any sort, you can get access to the guts of your photo data.
Serious kudos to Jeffrey Friedl for providing a decidedly awesome tool. You definitely want to keep this one in your bookmarks.
*There are oodles of EXIF apps for most mobile platforms, but I have yet to see one that gets as deep into the data as this web tool.
Last week we told you how to decode Bloomberg-ese – specifically how to recognize the difference between “writing something on behalf of one of my analyst friends who wishes this were true” and “just making shit up”.
This week one of the Bloomberg typists wrote a breathless piece about new iPads being released in October, including this telltale phrase:
Apple Inc. will unveil the next generation of iPad tablets around mid-October, a person with knowledge of the plans said …
You do the math.
Sorry about the rather unwieldy headline, there. But really, there was no other way to approach this. Brian Williams of NBC – who used to be a real journalist and should definitely know better – put together this breathless report from Sochi that shows personal electronics being remotely compromised with malware and accessed by crackers within minutes of landing at the airport in Sochi. In the video you see a phone being “automatically” being taken over as soon as they turn it on, and two brand-new Macbook Pros being compromised just by turning them on at the hotel and leaving them running for an hour.
It’s the kind of thing that is frightening for average computer users and will get lots and lots of clicks and links and shares and oh my god this is awful what will we do?!?!
Except that the entire thing is a self-created and purposely staged sham, verging on a complete fabrication.
If you watch the unedited video, the whole thing is actually laughable. Instead of the phone “automatically” downloading malware, the reporters followed an URL to an unknown site and then installed the linked software themselves. Whether or not it was even (as claimed by their security “expert”) malware is debatable, since they never actually said what the linked file was. And the Macbooks that were “remotely accessed while just sitting there”? They manually opened a file that was attached to an unknown email. And bypassed the system warnings telling them not to open it.
The whole thing is a farce. But you will see dozens and dozens of links to it today. Because that is what tech “journalism” has been reduced to. Fabricated bullshit laced with fear, in a sad and desperate attempt to get a few clicks.
Shame, Brian Williams. Shame.
If you haven’t been reading the “If It Happened There” series over on Slate, you are missing something truly excellent. In a nutshell, they report on American events with the same style and tone that the American media usually uses when reporting on events in other countries … especially countries that are outside the USA’s sphere of influence and/or the average American probably couldn’t find on a map. It’s the very best of completely straight-faced satire, skewering everything in sight in a totally serious manner … not the least of which is the media mindset that Slate itself is a contributing member to.
Nothing is sacred, and the feature reached an absolute pinnacle of awesomeness today with the in-depth report on the cultural and sporting festival known as “The Super Bowl” (there is, in fact, no bowl).
There was a time when Super Bowl ads were shrouded in secrecy … hush-hush and kept under wraps until the moment they were released to a breathless audience during the Big Game. Then Volkswagen realized that they could short circuit the whole thing by releasing their ad on YouTube a week early and getting millions of views for free. This was, as they say, a game-changer.
Mercedes-Benz upped the ante last year with internet-only release the “feature-length” version of their spot, and now the gloves are off. Pretty much everyone is either releasing their ad, their teaser, their trailer, or their “making of” video now. Including Newcastle’s “making of the teaser for the trailer of the mega huge football ad that with could have made” which is quite frankly the best of the lot, hands down.
The only problem is keeping track of it all, and the gang over at Fast Company has you covered with the full roster of everything released so far, with thumbnail analysis and constantly updated as new stuff hits. Just the ticket for a completely unproductive end of the week. Enjoy.
Need a little mental exercise to give your brain a pick-me-up halfway through your Monday? Of course you do. Try this quiz: Listen to a snipped of language and try to guess what it is. You might be surprised at how many you guess. Or you might be embarrassed that you know so little about the rest of the planet. It’s probably a toss-up … but give it a shot anyway.
HINT: Don’t be fooled by the picture. None of the languages are Mock Swedish. Really.
So yeah, there was this ice storm and a fairly massive blackout and a few days sort of got missed. The best laid plans of mice and men, right?
Anyway. One more entry into the list to round out the countdown … and I definitely saved the best for last. “Snow FM Ireland” is the single best mix of Christmas music you are going to find online, period. Lots of classics – heavy on the Rosemary Clooney and Judy Galrand, which is awesome – a good dose of newish stuff, and at least fifty percent of it is stuff you just don’t hear anywhere else. If you need just one audio feed to leave on for all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, this is the one.
There is no actual web page for these guys, but you can find a stream on your browser here. It’s probably a lot easier just to hit them up on TuneIn Radio by searching for “Snow FM Ireland”.
Ho ho ho.
So the gang over at CBC news cobbled together a list of the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) social media marketing failures of the year. They kindly append each one with a “lesson to be learned” but really, all of them come down to the same thing: Don’t be a moron. Or, if you want to flesh it out, don’t let marketing idiots anywhere near your Twitter account … which pretty much equates to the same thing.
If you ever needed a nutshell course in how media works and what their priorities really are … it’s your lucky day. How the various media arms react to the Asteroid Apocalypse Of 2014 is not only wickedly hilarious … it’s also deadly accurate.