Scottevest FTW

Meet Scott Jordan –

Scott Jordan - aka @scottevest

I was first introduced to Scott way back when I was just about to embark upon my Lucozade Energy Challenges

No. Wait.

First you need to know what the hell a ‘Scottevest‘ is.

Well, the best way to describe it would be to call it ‘tech-enabled clothing’ for the tech-travelling geek. Imagine a really nice/well-made jacket for example, that can carry all of your tech.

You’re a blogger, geek, tech-head. You’re carrying an iPad, a phone (or three), a USB cable (or seven). You don’t want to carry a bag because you always carry a bag. Well, what if you didn’t have to? What if you could wear a jacket, or a fleece, or a pair of trousers that could carry all that for you – in comfort.

Well that’s Scottevest.

And it is awesome.

Example?

Let me get back to my story, back when I was about to embark upon my Lucozade trip of epicness, fellow video-blogging buddy Christian Payne – aka @Documentally – reached out to Scott and asked him to send me some stuff to use while I was away – ‘He’ll do something cool,’ he said. In return I told Christian I’d give Scott the rights to use any photography that I took while away…

And that’s exactly what I did.

Like a pro...

Sandboarding in Namibia, head to toe in Scottevest gear, natch.

Turns into: free photos of yours truly with any Scottevest purchase! 😉

Whatleydude, on a sandboard, wearing Scottevest

Throw in a bit of climbing, some mountain trekking and a spot of safari too, and you have yourself quite a nice selection of Scottevest-in-action poses!

Anyway, for the past three years Scott and I have been following each other on Twitter and last night was the first time we got a chance to meet… and what a genuinely nice guy he is! Filled with stories and laughter, he was a great host for a lovely evening of tech geekery and smart clothing (not a combination you hear every day).

Seriously, follow him on Twitter [and tell him I said hi] and perhaps, this Christmas, you might want to gift your favourite geek with some badass Scottevest gear for his/her tech.

Oh, and as a final FYI – for my fellow Brits – Scott was in town last night to tell both a) catch up with his UK friends and b) give us a sneak preview of new and upcoming products.

That blue shirt he’s wearing above is on my shopping list already and, when it launches, Scott’ll be putting everything on Amazon.co.uk too – making it all much easier to purchase.

Win!

 

Liam Brazier

Awesome comic book art is awesome.

I first came across the work of Liam Brazier on one of my favourite art blogs, My Modern Metropolis. Probably after I tweeted about JUST HOW AWESOME his work was, I got into a rather geeky exchange with my friend Elise Pearce – which ended up with both of us committing to buying some of his work.

Elise bought BatmanCave Man‘, I went for SupermanMan Up‘.

However, the way that I wanted Supes wasn’t really advertised on Liam’s online shop, so I reached out to him (fortunately he’s fairly active on Twitter) and explained what I was looking for… he said it might be extra, I said I didn’t care… so we came to an agreement, and I got what I wanted.

I have... New art.

— ‘Man Up’, on my wall at home —

It is, clearly, awesome. And I believe it is also the only one, of its size, in existence.

Epic. Win.

Brazier’s work covers off the standard comic book heroes, obviously, but there’s also Star Wars, Rocky, Withnail, Teen Wolf and a whole bunch of other great stuff that I don’t know the name of.

I guess my point is, if you’re a geek with a penchant for the artistic, take a look at Liam’s work. I really can’t recommend it, or him, enough.

 

Update: turns out he does animation too. Wicked.

 

Spotify on Windows Phone

It’s here…

Yesterday was a fairly busy day, if you’re a tech-head like me at least; Google+ rolled out their brand pages, the Nokia N9 started updating to the much-heralded mega-fix firmware and, for those that needed it, Spotify dropped onto the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Google+ I’ve covered already (no really, what is it for?), the N9 update I am yet to apply and as for Spotify? Well, what can I say?

Choosing Windows Phone as the last, great, mobile operating system to support, Spotify prepped itself for the promised masses yesterday afternoon (after a preview some six months ago) and boy, is it a beautiful app to use.

First, some caveats:

  • Spotify mobile is only available to premium subscribers
  • Premium is £9.99 a month. A small price to pay to NEVER PAY FOR ANY MUSIC EVER AGAIN.
  • I’ve tried Zune* and, until Spotify dropped, that was fine (if a little alien).

So, to the app itself.

The good stuff:

  • WP7 app design: oh my God this app is gorgeous.
  • Scrolling, sharing, syncing: all of it rocks my face off.
  • It’s Spotify, on my mobile.

The stuff needed in the next update:

  • Background colour options
    Windows Phone offers either ‘dark’ or ‘light’, white on black or black on white respectively. Spotify should either match its app’s skin accordingly or at least offer it up as an in-app option. Strangely, while the app offers the light variation, the desktop client offers dark.
  • Last.fm integration please
    Syncing tracks listened to in online mode and remembering then uploading my tracks listened to in offline mode.
  • Offline playlist filters
    Yeah, love that but, any chance that you filter the playlists by DOWNLOADED FIRST? Having to scroll through all of them in order is a pain.
  • Album art on lockscreen
    I mentioned I was on Zune before, one thing that the WP music player does nicely is show album covers on the lock screen while playing music. It’s a nice touch and adds to the overall experience. Spotify should do this too. See below.

2011-11-09-2221

 Florence playing through Zune

2011-11-09-2222

 Florence playing through Spotify

Overall, great work guys, it’s an awesome service and I’m a big fan. Having it running on my Lumia makes me a very happy bunny indeed. Good job.

Please, continue to iterate, improve and impress.

Danke,
James.

 

*I signed up for a Zune Pass about a day after first getting my Windows Phone. I like that it covers my Xbox too, but I already have Last.fm there. So it was only really the mobile music angle I needed to cover. Now Spotify is here, I just don’t need it.

Learn

My first iPad wasn’t in fact mine. I merely had it on loan from the office. We danced and we played together but eventually, I had to hand it back. However, a couple of weeks ago (and thanks to some smart upselling from Vodafone), I picked up my own one.

This time an iPad2. Glorious.

This is the first time I’ve had an iPad ‘full time’ so to speak, and being a part-time student and observer of how technology influences human behavioural change, I’ve been keeping an eye on its influence on me.

The results so far? I’m reading more.

Allow me to explain: last year, I wrote about how the iPad did not mean the death toll for the publishing industry – and I stand by that. But, recently, I happened to come by an issue of The Economist’s lifestyle and culture quarterly, Intelligent Life (IL). It was my first encounter with said publication and, hidden deep within its pages, it featured a rather fantastic article entitled ‘Digital Africa‘. A super-relevant piece of writing and a subject that is dear to my heart. With that article alone, the magazine had found itself a new subscriber.

Later (and I don’t know how I discovered it, one assumes there must’ve been an ad somewhere inside), I soon learnt that IL had its own free iPad app. Even better. I thought, I know a lot of people with iPads and I know a lot of people that would enjoy that Digital Africa article. So… I’ll tell everyone who fits both those descriptions and that’ll be great.

I do, and it is.

Weeks later, my iPad2 arrives and the first app I download? IL. On top of the Digtial Africa copy, there’s a new issue available. I download that and read it, cover to cover, over the course of an afternoon.

‘Interesting’ being the key word here.

Confession time: I don’t read (in the traditional sense) as much as I’d like. It’s not a healthy admission to make, but it’s true. The, what might be seen as, usual time for reading – on the tube to and from work in the mornings and evenings – is usually taken up by writing. My Moleskine is my best friend when I’m travelling and I use the dead [read: ‘disconnected’] time to jot down my thoughts. Failing that, if my mind is bare, I catch up on email or just sit and listen to music. My daily reading habits tend to be made up of my Google Reader and that’s it.

However, upon finishing my second i-issue of IL, I then figured I’d give the Kindle a go. My sister and I bought one for our Mum recently and a few other friends have also extolled its virtues. I’ll get the app I say, that’ll do it.

I did, and it did.

The Kindle app is sitting quite nicely on my iPad as I type with ‘The Psychopath Test‘ by Jon Ronson (thank you Amanda) and ‘The Black Swan‘ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (thank you Jed) both sat ready to be read.

We’ll see how this goes, shall we? New technology, encouraging me to read. This I’m going to enjoy.

Before I close off though, there’s one last thing I want to share. Back in January 2010, mobile thought leader and visionary, Christian Lindholm, wrote these words about the iPad.

It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required.
.
Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.

It’s still one of my favourite blog posts to date and I think that, in this age of the information rich, the sentiment stands true:

Irrespective of your thoughts on what the iPad is for, these shifts in the way we store, recall and interact with knowledge signify a human behavioural change that we – in our lifetimes – will probably never be able to truly quantify.

Learn.

 

 

Hunter Prey

This post needs some introduction. Around 8mins worth to be precise…

That was Batman: Dead End. A fan film released (I would like to think at least in part) in response to Joel Schumacher’s two Batman ‘interpretations’ of the late 90s; Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. If you can take a moment and throw your mind back to before Heath Ledger, before Christian Bale… all the way back to Burton.

What Schumacher did to Bob Kane’s source material was nothing short of horrific and, at a time when the series was at its darkest (and not in a good way), Sandy Collora turned ’round and delivered Dead End to prove that if George Clooney wasn’t about to step up, he was.

Fast forward seven years and Sandy gets a go at his own full-length feature; Hunter Prey.

— image via Film School Rejects

While not given the largest of releases, I was lucky enough to catch Hunter Prey at the Science Fiction Film Festival and, a few things aside, I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, I went in fully expecting it to be crap. I mean really crap. Proper B moviesville. But in the BEST of ways. I’m a sucker for certain genres you see and bad sci-fi is up there with werewolf flicks and Fincher. Alright, Fincher isn’t a genre, but you get the idea.

Bottom line, Hunter Prey is pretty damn good. Yes there are a few timing issues (the film could do with some tighter edits) and some of the scripting is hilarious but – and this is a massive BUT – to call this film bad sci-fi would be both hugely unfair and actually, just plain wrong; what Sandy has achieved in this film is nothing short of awesome.

The opening gambit – ship carrying alien prisoner crashes on strange planet, said prisoner escapes in the carnage, survivors head out to hunt it down, cat-and-mouse ensues – is not too dissimilar to another great sci-fi B movie, Pitch Black. However, what our alien prisoner is capable of is much, much different to anything Riddick could ever and would ever do.

I could say more, but to do so would reveal a key plotting device/twist which I would go nuts about if anyone told me. So there we’ll leave it.

Personally? I love bad low-budget sci-fi and I loved Hunter Prey. Like I said, there are some low points (it’s too long), some high points (great plot) and some bloody fantastic points (the character designs are nothing short of spectacular).

My verdict?

If you’ve got eight quid to spare, then pick it up. It’s not perfect, not by any stretch, but if anything I’ve said above chimes with you, then you shouldn’t let this pass you by.

It’s been a few months sine I’ve seen it now and it definitely needs revisiting…

Finally, if you liked the Batman fan flick that kicked this off – then you should check out City of Scars. Not a Collara pic, but still pretty damn good.

Whatley out.

The Purchasing Journey: Split/Second

Sometime ago now, some friends of mine asked if it was OK to film a short interview piece discussing the future of the shopping experience – aka – the purchasing journey.

I don’t know what happened to the footage (if I find out I’ll see if I can upload it later), but what I do know is that the thoughts from that day still rattle around my head like it was only yesterday:

In today’s super-connected society, how can any one activity (be that marketing, advertising or PR) truly claim to be the sole driver behind product sales?

Let’s take a look. Using the analysis of one of my own purchasing journeys; Split/Second, a new racing game for the Xbox360.

The first part, the very beginning, was when I saw a tweet from a trusted friend saying “This looks awesome!” with a link to a game trailer. It was so long ago now that I forget who it was, it might’ve been Kev or Joe but I’m not sure. Anyway, like I said, that tweet led me to YouTube, where I watched the trailer. Then I watched it again. In HD.

It was a Saturday morning, the girlfriend and I were getting ready to go out and I stopped her to watch it with me. It was that good. Excitement. I am a fan of Burnout, a similar arcade-style racer. I’ve finished both Burnout 1 & 2 for the Gamecube and I’m very close to finishing Burnout: Paradise City on the 360. Split/Second is very similar (but in the same breath very different), so this game spoke to me.

Interesting.

Next, came the research phase. When was it out? What could I do to find out more? My Firefox history tells me that it was May 1st when I saw the video above. At that point, I was in game-buying mode. I tweeted:

A few things came back, but nothing that really grabbed me. I waited. A week later I saw this tweet from Nik Butler:

Nik played it. He liked it. I went to bed thinking about it and, the following morning, I wake up and download the demo. It’s one car, one track, one race. But I like it.

A few days after that it’s holiday time. Dubai. Beautiful, relaxing, sunny Dubai. I buy Edge; the thinking man’s games mag. What’s inside? A review of you guessed it, Split/Second.

They said:

Ultimately, much like a summer movie blockbuster, Split Second offers thrills galore, but there’s a hint of glossy superficiality to it, too. Large-scale explosions distract from a lack of tactical depth for a while, but the game’s lifespan would have been improved, particularly as far as multiplayer is concerned, with a more comprehensively involving strategic element. Yet there are few games in the genre that create quite so many sharp intakes of breath and instances of unintentionally barked profanity as this one, and sometimes that’s what racing gaming is all about.

That quote there, that last sentence even, was what finally clinched it for me. The journey was long but on May 31st, a full month from my first encounter, I bought the game.

It started with a tweet, then a trailer, then trusted referrals, a demo of the game and finally an official games review (in print no less).

The purchasing journey can be long and winding with many different touch-points. I hear conversations about acquisitions, downloads and click-throughs and I despair. The modern day ROI model cannot be put down to just one thing. There are many routes to my wallet and none of them are exclusive. They live and breathe around each other and, it’s only through that understanding will we ever really make an impact.

Points of interest:

Modern technology helped my map the data; Firefox history with viewing the trailer, my Xbox Live account with my demo downloads and of course Twitter, time-stamping my progress. This stuff can be mapped, it’s just knowing where to look.

Also, massive thanks to the cool cats at Edge who, after I managed to lose the copy of their magazine that I wanted to quote from (see above,) kindly emailed me a PDF of the original article I needed. Rockstars.