Bits and Bytes

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Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes

Eurovision unites Europe: Twitter reacts

I watched the Eurovision last night. Accidentally. I’d never planned on doing it. I was at a friend’s place, celebrating his birthday with some fellow Germans (yes, there was much potato salad, see point 24 for why that is) and some Aussies and suddenly the telly was tuned to BBC1.

It is the epitome of car-crash-television and we all had great fun in poking fun at the songs, get-ups and, of course, buxom ladies from Poland seductively churning butter and doing the laundry.

Continue reading “Eurovision unites Europe; McDonald’s Quality Scouts and this week’s bits and bytes”

Rock solid win for UsVSTh3m, ‘Spineless’ Yahoo! and this week’s bits and bytes

Fast flooding cement: The Victoria Line was suspended this week because, somehow, a control room was flooded with cement. Twitter reacted how it always reacts, with a barrage of quick drying puns, visual gags and other silliness. And as we know, Twitter frickin LOVES a good pun.

@tomparker81 pointed out this beautiful flowchart from @TimeOutLondon on how the engineers were most likely dealing with the situation…

… while @a_little_wine sent me this brilliant response from @JobSiteUK, who not only had the time to think up a pun, but also put up a promoted Tweet for engineering jobs on their platform.

What struck me most about the story though was that it (technically) wasn’t the traditional media that broke the news, but up-and-coming, do-it-for-the-LOLz site @UsVSTh3m (an experiment funded by Trinity Mirror).

UsVSTh3m got their hands on a number of images of the cement-covered control room and (by using their  ‘old school media’ connections?) those photos were then not only used, but also credited on The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, The Metro, HuffPo, Mail Online and The BBC to name a few.

A big win for the experiment, and if you haven’t read @MartinBelam‘s take on the who, why and what behind UsVSTh3m, I recommend you do so immediately as it provides a clever and informative take on how traditional media can adapt to t’Interwebs and why it’s so important that the UsVSTh3m team can “write for the web, use Photoshop like a boss, and code”.

Big win?

Still, you’ll be glad to know that the Victoria Line is working again. The fix? Sugar, bizarrely. And while I’d like to think it was Fairtrade sugar from Sainsbury’s that sorted out the signalling room, I cannot confirm that.

Grow a spine, Yahoo!: Gmail was down for about 20 minutes on Friday, enough time for brands and organisations to jump in with some real-time marketing.

From the cheeky

to the worthy

to the own goal (is this the only time you’d watch an episode of NCIS?)

But then there was Yahoo!, who (I thought) simply tweeted the fact that Gmail was ‘temporarily unavailable’, quoting the Error 500 page. No further judgement or commentary – just a screenshot (although I imagine, behind the scenes, the Yahoo! Mail team was high-fiving and wooping).

The Tweet was quickly deleted and replaced by a confusing, two-tweet apology. It referred to @Yahoo being used by the editorial team to inform about news and events and that the Tweet “reflected bad judgment” (I guess you think twice about dissing your CEO’s ex-employer).

But if you see yourself as a news organisation, should you then not report on the news? There wasn’t any Nelson-esque “HaHa” (albeit implicit), they were simply stating fact. I wonder if they’d have gotten away with the @YahooNews account tweeting it.

As ValleyWag puts it: “Grow a spine, Yahoo!” – a sentiment that many people share, going by the responses to the apology.

Those cheeky chaps at Paddy Power are at it again: After Man Utd lost to Chelsea, the Paddy Power deposited a life-sized wax figure of Sir Alex Ferguson inside a glass box outside Old Trafford. The instructions are simple: “In case of emergency, break glass“. I have a feeling that after the hilariously pathetic penalty shoot-out against equally inept Sunderland this week, the glass might have been shattered. Perhaps by the same distressed fan who was so dismayed by the nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams, he dialled 999, demanding to speak to Ferguson.

Bits and bytes

Videos of the week: “You have elbows and you have knees. So touch them. VERY NICE.” Arnold Schwarzenegger visits Gold’s Gym in a dodgy disguise to support after-school sports. I doubt anybody was fooled as to whom they were talking to, but Ahnuld is just one charming dude.

What if Google was just some dude behind a desk (HT @TillieSeymour).

And two wonderfully cheese public service videos from The White House this week. Making the ‘Big Block of Cheese Day’ a virtual reality. And who better to do the promo than The West Wing’s Josh Lyman and Will Bailey!

And then there’s FLOTUS dunking on Lebron James. Oh yeah.

And finally: Physics paper Rick-Roll.

GoPro understands social rewards, POTUS rocks and this week’s bits and bytes

Sainsbury’s: Remember when you could slap Jamie Oliver via Youtube? Well, we’ve come up with our own version of that interactive Youtube clip to accompany our Kitchen Heroes campaign. Check it out to see what you can do with a carton of by Sainsbury’s chopped tomatoes (needs some work in the juggling department though…).

Also, make sure you watch the über-tasty food pornography that is the new by Sainsbury’s ads. Probably the greatest sausage sandwich you’ll ever see.

And yup, another month has passed which makes it time for a look back at our favourite tweets from April. Highlights were the new Gok for Tu collection, the Cake and Bake Show and of course the news that Sainsbury’s is sponsoring the British Athletics Summer Series.

Twitter safety: After high profile Twitter accounts from news organisations were compromised – most recently that of AP which caused a dip in the DOW – Twitter has sent a memo directly to the newsdesks with some tips on how to keep their accounts safe. Key points to remember are to use secure passwords and change them regularly, keep your email secure and keep an eye out for suspicious activity from any apps you may have authorised to have access to your account.

So far, so sensible. But then they go on to say that you should designate one computer to use for Twitter exclusively. So no email or browsing the Web. Bizarre. Here’s hoping this is all just a temporary stop gap before Twitter rolls out two-factor-authentication.

Reward & inspire: A customer that has bought your product and created something beautiful will most likely be a fan of your product. Should they chose to share this beautiful thing they’ve created, all you need to do is share that with your community. Your customer’s creation will serve to inspire other people to do the same or inspire their own ideas.

Much like Lego, the people at GoPro are brilliant at using the things their customers create and share them through their own social media channels. GoPro sells tiny HD cameras that can be mounted on pretty much anything, from tripods/helmets/skis/skateboards, to guitars, dogs and mouthpieces. The videos that they chose to share are some of the most incredible, inspiring, awesome clips you’ll see on the web. Sure, it helps if these videos feature a host of beautiful (often scantily clad) people doing awesome things, gratuitous use of slow motion and time-lapse photography as well as a pounding electro soundtrack, but you get what I mean.

Case in point – a video of a dude solving a Rubik cube. Not interested? How about if it’s three cubes at the same time. Still nothing? OK then. How about a video of a dude solving three Rubik cubes simultaneously WHILE JUGGLING THEM (are you listening @AlexCole71?). Thought so.

Facebook fatigue: There has been much talk about Facebook fatigue and the latest numbers from SocialBakers don’t show any turnaround in fortunes for the big blue social network, especially not in developed markets such as Europe, the US and Australia. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK. Why is this? The Guardian asked readers why: it’s superficial, boring, gimmicky and there’s too much fighting. An interesting point from a reader: It’s no longer a place where you can keep up with what’s going on with your friends and family – it’s a place where business can farm your information from.

Facebook’s demise seems somewhat exaggerated though. Its first quarter figures show that monthly and daily active users are up to 751 million and 665 million respectively. Even though net income was less than what analysts expected, mobile revenues is what seems to have saved Zuck for now: they’ve doubled this in six months. Still, as Nikhil Kumar notes in his excellent analysis for the Evening Standard notes, there is room for caution.

SMS is dead? Well, perhaps not dead, but definitely green around gills. Turns out that in 2012, more people sent messages using chat apps such as BBM, What’s App, Skype, iMessage than using good old fashioned SMS. A study by Informa found that almost 19 billion instant messages were sent using chat apps in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion SMS texts. All of that of course means a massive whole in revenues for mobile phone carriers. Suppose we can all expect data tariffs to become more expensive!

POTUS standup: President Obama spoke at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner this week. Not only was he funnier than Conan (not hard), his 20 minute routine just shows how charming the man really is and how important it is to count Steven Spielberg as one of your friends. For fans of the US version of House of Cards, please make sure you check out Kevin Spacey and a host of democrats and republicans come together for an excellent “Prom of the Nerds” spoof.

Still on POTUS – the White House this week joined Tumblr and in its first post, outlined exactly what people can expect from the blog with a nifty, hand-drawn pie chart. The administration will tumble quotes from Potus, videos, behind the scenes stuff and updates from Vpotus and Flotus. So far, so good. A sign that Obama’s social media bods are very much plugged into to the Internet Zetigeist comes in the form of a stand on how to pronounce the word “gif”. Rather than go with the soft G as in ‘gist’ (which, mind you, is the way that the inventors of the gif format intended it to be pronounced), the president has decided to go with the hard G as in gift. Let the battle of the geeks begin.

Source: White House

No. 10 Twitter first: Not wanting to be left out, Downing Street plans to use Twitter to give preferred journalists a heads up on announcements before they are made in parliament. I have a feeling we’ll be getting many more The Thick Of It moments as a result.

Can you tell a story in 6 words? Hemingway allegedly penned: For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. But what about a story in 6 seconds of stop/start footage via Twitter’s Vine? Here are the award winning 6 second vines from the Tribeca film festival.

Anticipatory computing: Imagine you’re talking to a friend about planning your weekend, talking about potential restaurants, destinations and activities. You’re using an iPad app called MindMeld that listens to what the two of you have to say, conducts Internet searches on some of the keywords you use, and displays them in real time. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship and dependent on technology like Skype and FaceTime, I cannot imagine anything worse. But make up your own mind with this video

Videos of the week: every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera – a fact that Apple have gone and used as the idea for their new ad (and going by Flickr data, it’s actually true!).

Apple fan boys (why hello there!) and Samsung owners fight all the time on who has made the better tech choice. Have a look at this for a clever bit of advertising.

Budweiser’s ‘Buddy Cups‘ makes toasting friends instant friends on Facebook.

Ecotricity comes up with an excellent clip to promote alternative power sources.

And finally: Ed Balls breaks the Internet.

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.

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