Bits and Bytes

Thoughts on digital, running rambles and photos



Print your own food, Yahumblr, Sharenting and this week’s bits and bytes

Print your own food: A chap called Anjan Contractor received a $125,000, 6-month NASA grant to build a prototype 3D printer that prints food. Meant for space travel, you don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to understand that it could also be used to provide food in the future when the population is higher and presumably natural food sources become scarce (HT @stangreenan and @a_little_wine).

Rather than pots, fresh ingredients, and a stove – the 3D printer creates food from basic powdered ingredients loaded in cartridges. Even better, because these cartridges contain simply the building blocks of various different kinds of food and have a massively increased shelf-life compared to fresh food, the amount of food waste would be greatly reduced.

It gets better. What’s the first dish Contractor is looking to print?


Source: Quartz

Yahumblr: Yahoo bought Tumblr this week for $1.1bn. Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer set up her own Tumblr to announce the news – how else, but with an animated gif, the currency of the blogging platform (although, the Keep Calm meme? That’s sooo 2011). From the opening lines of her post, she is keen on making hard core Tumblrs know that Yahoo “promise not to screw it up.”

But why purchase a collection of blogs made up of cat images, animated gifs, porn (seriously, 1 in every 6 pages is NSFW) and sites dedicated to ‘Fuck yeah…’? They’re after a younger demographic and they’re hoping to sell access to it. Mayer did emphasise on an investor call that Yahoo would let Tumblr be Tumblr – but it’ll be interesting to see how Yahoo reconciles Tumblr’s naughty bits with the family friendly environment Yahoo has built up. The Harvard Business Review believes that it can work, but only if Yahoo listens closely to the Tumblr community.

Source: Marissa Mayr

Twitter security: Twitter has finally rolled out two-factor security. You link your Twitter account with your mobile phone and set it up so that you’re sent a verification message to your phone that you have to then input together with your password when you log in. That way you need the account password and your phone to log in – making it more difficult for accounts to get hacked.

The problem is that for corporate accounts that are managed by more than one person, this system won’t work because an account can only be linked to one phone number. Hopefully then, Twitter will add support for the Google Authenticator app.

Xbox One: Want to know what you’ll be getting your kids/yourself for Christmas this year? Microsoft’s new gaming console, the Xbox One.

Free McDonald’s for kidnap hero: A great bit of opportunistic PR from McDonald’s, which has decided to give the man who famously put down his Big Mac to help rescue three women held captive for years in a Cleveland house free McD’s for a year (HT @tomparker81).

A few hazelnuts short of a full spread: Imagine you’re the brand manager for Nutella. Over years, you’ve nurtured a relationship with a 40,000 strong fan community on Facebook. Every year, the page admin runs a Nutella appreciation day. A day where people share their Nutella inspired recipes and other odes to the Greatest Chocolate Spread The World Has Ever Seen (well, after Saino’s popping candy chocolate spread of course).

Happy days.

Then, unbeknownst to you, your legal department issues a cease and desist order to shut down the Nutella fan page. Obviously the fans went apoplectic, but through quick work, Nutella quickly reversed their position, wiping the chocolate from their face.

Sharenting: My social streams are full of people posting photos of their offspring. From the first ultrasound, to live tweeting the birth, Instagrammed photos of all early-life stages to jumpy six second home-video-vines of first steps and/or utterances. It bores the crap out of me. At least there’s ‘Unbaby Me‘, a handy browser extension that removes photos of babies in your Facebook and Twitter feeds and replaces them with whatever you’d rather see. I’ve gone for Imgur’s most viral RSS feed.

The Guardian looks at the pros (really?!) and cons of sharenting – the growing trend of young parents documenting their offspring’s development through social media.

Source: STFU, Parents

20 social insights: A thought provoking deck by @paulbromford about the top 20 things he learnt about social media last year. I LOVED slide #12: “Wifi is like electricity – people need it to do their jobs properly“. Then there’s #10: Trust. And #7: Relationships. Check it out for yourself – and do make sure you also visit Paul’s blog to see his notes on each slide (HT @AllThingsIC).

Tech and food: Two things I love and am ridiculously fortunate to combine in my job at Saino’s. So I was intrigued by a post from @nealunger about how similar tech and food blogging is. After all, both audiences form part of my target audience every day. Neal writes:

Both fields depend on producing large amounts of content for an obsessive and mostly financially comfortable user base. There’s a reason for the glut of well-funded tech and food web sites these days; a shitload of people read them, and advertisers want to reach that audience. To put it bluntly—tech and food publications both reach monomaniacs with money to throw around.

Tweet your afterlife away: According to the Beeb, Saudi Arabia’s religious police are employing an interesting (futile?) tactic to stop its population from using increasingly popular social media platforms to voice their political and religious views. They’re warning that anyone doing so “has lost this world and his afterlife“. They’ve obviously not heard of the Arab spring…

Social teens: Research from Pew Research Centre about teens, social media and privacy has found that teenage social media users aren’t too concerned about business or advertisers accessing their data. Do also have a look at some of the focus group quotes, as they provide an interesting snapshot of just how savvy teens are when using social media and how different platforms are used for different purposes.

Insight: Excellent advice from XKCD on adopting every new tech

Source: XKCD

Grid: Excel is a really useful program for calculations, recurring formulas and financial information. We also use it for many other purposes like content plans, weekly reports and contact lists. I’d argue that most of the things we use Excel are better done in other ways, yet it remains the go-to platform for organising information. Not much longer I hope, as this video for a new collaborative planning tool called Grid shows.

Video of the week: Clever stuff from – again! – McDonald’s with their Chalkboard versions of their menus. Such a simple idea to bring that down-to-earth, homemade and wholesome feel to a global brand.

And finally: Cat beards and of course, double cat beard.

Facebook’s Graph Search and this week’s bits and bytes

Using the example of the horrific helicopter crash in London this week, the Guardian looks at how traditional news outlets and broadcasters now use social media and photos posted to Twitter to cover the news – and what implications that has for image copyright: In the past, such material was called user-generated content, or citizen journalism. Now it’s just Twitter and everyone should be aware of the rules of engagement.

The National Retail Federation conference took place in New York this week and Reuters has been very taken by ‘smart screens’ that (a la Minority Report) know who is looking at them and display targeted information from ads to deals or their online shopping basket. Forbes focused on what eight retail CEOs have planned for 2013. Good news: Omni-channel and mobile are here to stay.

With their Track My Macca’s app, McDonalds really hit the nail on the head this week. The app tracks the ingredients in the food you just bought through some nifty use of augmented reality, geo-location and time information – basically allowing you to plug in directly to McDonald’s supply chain data. Social media integration allows you to share the burger you just ate and tracked on Facebook. You can download it from the app store here although I doubt it works outside of Oz (HT to @TaraSThompson).

Twitter released a report this week showcasing the tweeting habits of people while they watch television in the U.K. Why is Twitter important for TV? Well, if you’ve been reading my weekly bits and bytes, you’ll have read about ‘second screening’. Here are some stats to help you understand why the two go together like fish and chips: 60% percent of the U.K.’s 10 million active users tweet while watching a television program and 40% percent of all tweets mention TV in some form. Download TV Twitter Book ‘Tune in with Twitter’. It’s free.

It was all about Facebook this week: they launched their version of Skype/Face-Time but the big news was all about the launch of the ever so creepy ‘Graph Search’ to take on Google. At first, it will allow you to search people, places, photos and interests – before spreading to every bit of information on the network. So for example, rather than search for a Chinese restaurant in London, you could now search for a Chinese restaurant in London that your Chinese friends who live in London like. Mashable has used the Graph Search and learnt, for example, that Google employees like Pink Floyd, while – slightly more seriously, USA today looked at how businesses can use Graph Search to their advantage. Me personally? I think this is yet another reason to make sure you regularly spend time learning the new Facebook privacy settings, think twice about what information you share and remember that on any free platform such as Facebook, you are the product.

Oh yeah. MySpace finally relaunched. With a little help from Justin Timberlake and his new single. Which is horrible and why I don’t have more to say about the new MySpace.

Don’t call an iPad a mobile device. Stats from comScore show that 90% of iPad use happens in your own home, 40% in public locations (most likely café’s and on trains and around 30% at work. Or as Business Insider puts it: they’re home PCs that are a little easier to carry around.

A great spot from @a_little_wine: Helen McGinn, a former Tesco wine buyer quit London to live in the New Forest and turned a weekly email to friends on wine suggestions into an award-winning blog Knackered Mothers Wine Club. Red Online spoke to her about how it happened and Helen’s tips for blogging.

An impressive/mind-boggling look back at 2012 by Pingdom: How many emails were sent during 2012? How many domains are there? What’s the most popular web browser? How many Internet users are there? Find out on their blog.

And finally: The White House responds to a petition on its website to build the Death Star (HT @tomparker81 and all of the world’s Star Wars geeks).

Weather permitting, I will be in Philly next week. I might or might not pull together these here bits and bytes. I do however, plan to eat many Cheese Steaks.

Blogging, improving breaking news at Twitter and this week’s bits and bytes


Starting off with exciting news from the Sainsbury’s digital corporate affairs world, I am super excited to say that we have finally been granted official ‘blue tick of awesomeness’ status by Twitter for our @SainsburysPR account (thank you @simonlp). Equally exciting is the launch of the lifestyle PR team’s blog, where Kathryn and her team will be bringing you all the news from the world of fashion, home and entertainment. The first post provides a sneak peek at the Spring/Summer 2013 home & lifestyle show.

While we’re on the topic, here’s an excellent 8 point guide to blogging that not only sums it up perfectly, but also shows how it’s different from writing a press release or an article. From the importance of tweetable and descriptive headlines, writing upside down to inviting comments with questions and opinion – if you blog for work or privately, this is a must read, print, laminate and stick to the wall kind of document.

Twelve Thirty Eight have produced their annual review of PR jargon and practices that piss off journalists. Not too many surprises there I don’t think, but a good read with quite a few car-crash examples of what not to do in PR. Condensed here in The Guardian’s Greenslade Blog if you don’t want to go through the whole PDF.

Ideas of Year are looking for just that – creative ideas from the Great British PR industry – to showcase some of the best stunts, social campaigns, quick and simple media stories. At the end of the process, around 100 of the finest examples will be compiled in a coffee table book that’ll be published with PR Moment in March 2013. So if you have a campaign to enter, complete this form and submit it by January 20.

Hasbro came out with a clever PR campaign this week, asking fans of Monopoly to vote on which of the classic tokens will never pass go again. The Guardian and The Mirror have covered the story and Paddy Power made the wheelbarrow odds on to be axed, with the cat tipped to replace it. Head over to the official Monopoly Facebook page to save your favourite token!

Lego have been on a roll in regards to customer service recently and this week has been no exception: A boy lost his new Lego toys in Sainsbury’s. He wrote a letter to Lego asking them if they’d replace the toys. Lego’s response is pure customer service gold. The original Tweet has been shared thousands of times, ITV and other media outlets have picked it up, and I don’t have to tell you the importance of quick, empathetic, helpful, human customer service in a viral world.

Must watch video of the week: The totally epic, OTT, 3 minute clip for The Guardian and Observer Weekend™ featuring none other than Hugh Grant (really). Turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy (HT @TomParker81 and @tarasthompson).

Check out this excellent print campaign from Expedia using airport codes and luggage tags. Makes me want to book my next flight and check in – although LHR PHL LHR doesn’t really spell anything.

The guys at Oddbins are back and running yet another marvellous promotional campaign. After their cheeky anti-Olympics campaign in the summer, they’ve now turned their attention to four groups of people who, in 2012, did not always receive the love that they probably deserved. Throughout the four January weekends mothers, bankers & journalists, Germans (YES!) and gingers will take turns to receive 10% discount. I am getting ready for the German weekend.

We all know that the place for breaking news is Twitter. Something happens and people instantly come to Twitter to search for a keyword – often without getting much context. Looks like Twitter are looking to wrest that role of context provider from media outlets using a combination of clever algorithms and dedicated people: they are working to improve the search function with a real-time human computation engine that helps identify search queries as soon as they’re trending, sends these queries to real humans to be judged, and then incorporates the human annotations back into Twitter search results.

Still on Twitter, those crazy cats at @SolihullPolice are at it again, providing their followers with the best comedy crime fighting you could possibly squeeze into 140 characters.

No surprise given murky privacy settings, tax affairs, Instafail, and the new Poke App, but Ad Age doesn’t like Facebook very muchThink of Facebook as a self-absorbed, petulant brat, one that doesn’t understand how to play well with others — users, investors, partners, competitors. Perhaps they should send that to Mark directly – it’ll only cost them a $100. That’s one way to monetise your social network… (HT @stangreenan)

And finally: a ridiculously well done Brad Pitt Chanel N°5 commercial parody featuring Johnny Depp (again, HT @stangreenan).

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