The Guff

Archive for the ‘The Pile’ Category

School Bus Molesation Drama Continues

In The Pile on April 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Oh boy, things can only get worse from here.

Coming to a courtroom near you

“Illegal questioning by cops, insufficient forensic evidence and conflicting stories from defendants all lead to a not guilty verdict at the Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday for three men accused of molesting a four-year-old girl on a school bus.” – 7Days

It’s like The Boy Who Cried Wolf meets The Salem Witch Trials.

I really can’t understand how the case has taken this long to be thrown out of court when the entire story involved such huge plot holes, e.g:

  1. The forensic report shows the girl is still a virgin
  2. One of the accused wasn’t even on the damn school bus

Only in Dubai I tell you.

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Gadget Fragmentation & Potential Unification

In The Pile on April 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I have a lot of gadgets. I have an iPhone (version 3), an iPod touch (version 2), an iPad (version 1), a MacBook (circa 2009), a Sony E-reader (haven’t a clue which one), some crazy 3D/television glasses, an old HTC phone, a pocket projector, a PSP (version 1), an Xbox 360 + Kinect and a no-name brand TV.

I know, i’ve got a load of shit. Truth be told the only things I really use are my laptop and tablet. I love the others individually, but they’re generally overpowered by something else. For instance, why use an e-reader when I have an iPad? Why use a PSP/iTouch when I have an Xbox 360 + Kinect? It’s a terrible shame. I probably own more spare gadgetry than most of Africa will see in their lifetime.

But all this money may not be completely lost and wasted! Recent developments at both Apple and Samsung suggest our fragmented array of gadgets may yet become whole again. Yes, we’re entering the land of sharing lions. Or, more accurately Mac OSX Lion and Samsung All Share.

Whilst i’ve heard a lot about Apple and their lions already (as an apple fan), i’m pretty unaware of Samsung and All Share. So I decided to put down the iPad, tie my boots and go observe the Samsung’s latest unveilings.

Samsung SMART TV

Samsung showcased their latest 3D televisions at the Fashion Catwalk in Dubai Mall today. 3D functionality is relatively mundane however compared to the new features these televisions offer. Forget 3D, it’s all about the SMART.

Don’t ask me why it’s capitalised, I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you plenty about what this “SMART”ness actually constitutes. SMART televisions include Samsung Apps, AllShare, Search All, Social TV, Web Browser, Second TV and hopefully, the ability to watch a little bit of telly.

Enough buzz terms for ya’? Thought so. Let’s translate some of this into actual English. Introducing the PR->Plain English translator, courtesy of Google Translate (no i’m just kidding, i’ve made all this up).

  • Samsung Apps = Around about 300-400 apps built specifically for Samsung TVs. I haven’t seen nor heard about a single one of them and i’m going to assume that the majority of them are the usual suspects e.g YouTube, Twitter, Generic American Newspaper etc. I’ll be interested to see how many of these apps have been created within the region.
  • AllShare = The capability of the SMART TVs to interact with Samsung phones, tablets, notebooks and digital cameras. Think AirPlay. For example, you can use your Galaxy Tab as your television remote control.
  • Search All = Ability to search the Internet and connected devices.
  • Social TV = Allows you to use Facebook, Twitter and Google Talk to chat with friends who are watching the same content. (I’ll be interested to see how many people use this versus their phone)
  • Web Browser = I’ll let you guess this one. No, it’s not a vending machine.
  • Second TV = Allows  Galaxy Tabs and Samsung smartphones to stream content straight from the SMART TV and vice versa.

 

Samsung SMART TV

Now, I’d be tempted to summarize this event as “Come see our latest smartphones SMART TVs”, but that wouldn’t quite do it justice. Sure, it’s easy to look at this new technology and say, “well, so what”. But “well, so what” seems to have herladed many of techs current trends (Twitter, tablets, location-based tools etc.). The event today is as much a launch of the SMART TV concept as it is their latest televisions (which are typically superb quality btw).

It’s our job to take this awesome tech, intergrate it into our lives and see what works.

Childish Gambiono: EP

In The Pile on April 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm

“All right

Gambino is a mastermind, fuck a bitch to pass the time

Mass appeal, orange rinds, smoke your green, I’m spendin’ mine

The beat is witches’ brew, but beware this hit is potent

e.e. cummin’ on her face, now this poetry is motion” – Freaks and Geeks

Needless to say this isn’t music for the easily offended. And it’s not normally my cup of tea either, but Childish Gambino has something I want. He’s got fire.

Donald Glover, A.K.A Childish Gambino

No, i’m not a pyromaniac, I just have a thing for sparks. Don’t ask me to point them out for you, I can’t see them. But if you ask me to feel them for you? Well, you’ll have a hard time getting me to shut up.

I’ll be the first to admit “EP” is by no means a masterpiece. It carries many of hip-hop’s less appealing staples (excessive cursing, misogynistic language etc.) and some of the lyrics really are cringe-worthy. But I guess you have to take the good with the bad. Certain parts of the mixtape piss me off and pleasure me in equal measure.

“I don’t fuck with fake bitches except for when I fuck with fake bitches

Canon 5D to take pictures of these girls who wouldn’t talk to me a year ago

49er chick askin’ for money, she get zero, though

Here I go again talkin’ money, women, and clothes, and cars, right?

You could switch all of my words out with Plies’, right?

People sayin’ we’re the same, please, come from under me

We are just some rappers, got no luxury of subtlety

No subjects when we’re rappin’, we say it like we hear it

I put it on a track but I hope you get the spirit ‘cause

I don’t wanna be alone” – Be Alone

Yet there are other occasions when I can ignore the non-conformist lyricism and whole-heartedly agree with what Glover has to say.

“The ride is easy when the dollar’s there to grease the wheels” – Be Alone”

“Like when these niggas call me “faggot” and “we homies now”

But we are not homies, I just keep you around ‘

Cause all your talkin’ is the noise I need to kill this sound

Have all these voices tellin’ me no one can help me out

We are alone I’m just the only one to figure out” – Be Alone

So whilst I find myself simultaneously loving and loathing the lyrics, the backing tracks and arrangements are right up my alley. The production makes me think of a paired down Kanye West. All of the tracks make great use of momentum and pacing.

There’s something about this EP that I can’t quite put my finger on. The lyrics are great in places but shoddy in others, the music is smooth and suits its purpose, yet the whole thing seems so much more grandiose. The only conclusion I can draw is that Glover himself is responsible.

“EP” can be downloaded from here for free. I recommend it to those of you who don’t mind explicit language and guilty pleasures.

About Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino is a musical side-project of Donald Glover. Glover is an American actor, writer and comedian.

Drink Coke

In The Pile on April 4, 2011 at 8:40 am

It’s the anticipation of the taste that hooks me. The pop and fizz of gas as I lift the cap. Funny, they say the same thing about pain. I can drink a can without ever tasting it. The fizz is so quick.

Drink Coca-Cola

A lot of people have asked me: “Why’d you prefer Coke over Pepsi?”. Let me tell you now, taste does not enter the equation. It’s all about the “pause that refreshes”.

I buy a Coke, knowing that i’m buying this, this and this. I buy a Coke knowing that the junk i’ll be drinking is the same junk that the Queen, Lady GaGa or Jaron Lanier is drinking. It’s an incredibly affordable luxury product that is simultaneously the world’s biggest FMCG and the world’s richest brand experience. It burns my tongue, offends my palette and pumps me full of toxins but I don’t care – i’m having a pause that refreshes.

What many of Coke’s peers don’t realise is Coke don’t sell Coke; they sell Coca-Cola. Their ads don’t depict a sugary sweet, fizzy black drink – they’re about youth, happiness and refreshment (regardless of how ‘refreshing’ Coke truly is). We buy our orange juice knowing we’re getting oranges and our milk knowing we’ll get milk. I buy Coke knowing i’ll get a luxury experience that no other soft drink can match.

It’s a strange world where you conciously allow brand messaging to dominate your perceptions. But Coke is the real thing, whatever that may be.

Sunday Secrets: Perception

In The Pile on April 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Today is Sunday. That means we’re going to talk about PostSecret. What’s PostSecret? Find out here if you missed our first Sunday.

Now, I know last Sunday there was some confusion caused by Etisalat’s rather over-enthusiastic Internet censorship (read – the buggers blocked access to the site for some people). But I encourage you all to try and find work around solutions so you can view the site.

Here’s a quick list of potential fixes (based upon complete guesswork)

  1. Subscribe to the website’s RSS feed
  2. Use a browser based proxy like VTunnel
  3. Go to https://post instead of http:/post
  4. Fill in the Etisalat contact form for unfairly blocked webpages and hope it gets reviewed

I hope one of those patches works out for you. But on with the secret!

PostSecret

There were many other secrets I could have chosen today, but I want to buck the trend of negativity. I usually find life pretty damn disorientating and its unbelievably easy for me to wind-up thinking the whole world’s against me. It’s not though, its got bigger fish to fry.

Thankfully, the world is full of people much smarter than myself who are always on hand to pull the blinkers off my head and give me a good shake. Then things usually start looking an awful lot better, without anything actually changing. Last night however, I had the urge to do some blinker-breaking mindset shaking myself – I overheard an interesting conversation between two guests at a dinner party.

Drunk Dinner 1 – “Why is it that when you need something, it’s always empty!”

Drunk Dinner 2 – “Yeah! Or its not where you left it!”

Drunk Dinner 1 – “I come back from my weekly shop, arms laden with carrier-bags, put everything away in the fridge and then when I go to make myself a cup of tea, the kettle broke!”

Drunk Dinner 2 – etc.

Okay, I lied – it wasn’t interesting. It was damn insipid. We all hear similar things said all the time – but that doesn’t seem to stop us from saying it. It’s all about perspective at the end of the day. I once read a charming little anecdote that encapsulated the concept perfectly.

Today, while I was driving my grandfather to his doctor’s appointment, I complained about hitting 2 red lights in a row.  My grandfather chuckled and said, “You always complain about the red lights, but you never celebrate the green ones.”

We all have good days and bad days. I think we just need to make sure that we’re always around to shake each other up and dust ourselves down.

WarGames

In The Pile on April 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm

“A strange game, the only winning move is not to play” – WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), WarGames 1983 – the concluding statement offered by the machine on the nature of nuclear warfare.

WarGames

A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me his copy of the 1983 classic ‘WarGames‘, albeit a French version. I’m a sucker for old-school tech films like this, Tron and even Back To The Future – it amazes me when I see how far technology (namely computers) have advanced within such a short space of time. We’ve progressed from using our phones to dial into the Internet to expecting the Internet on our phones within a few decades. It’s astounding. But when I stopped reminiscing about 200 MB hardrives and dial-up Internet for a moment, WarGames had a slightly more relevant message to remind me of.

There are some many games in life that are better off unplayed.

Now, I concede  the majority of life’s problems aren’t as manic, insane or complex as nuclear warfare; yet I think we can all learn something from WOPR’s statement. I’ll be the first to admit I play with fire far too often;  i’ve got the ugly burns to show for it. At times I feel kinda similar to WOPR – playing the same jinxed games repeatedly, hoping for different results. I’m pretty stupid like that. But here’s hoping that also like WOPR, i’ll one day be able to learn my lesson.

I’m much more fortunate than WOPR though: my decisions don’t decide the details of nuclear war, my scales are much smaller and my fallout less catastrophic. I don’t even need to bother my head about ‘acceptable loses’. I’ve still got room to play with.

Here’s hoping, for me and humanity.

More Fanta Less Serious

In The Pile on April 1, 2011 at 10:28 pm

More Fanta. Less Serious. Fanta sent that message loud and clear at Dubai Mall yesterday (Thursday March 31st).

More Fanta. Less Serious

The C0ca-Cola Company’s (TCCC) PR team invited me to join them for the launch of ‘Fanta Chase‘ at Dean & Deluca and observe what was promised to be a visual marvel. They didn’t disappoint.

With a combination of magic, projectors, hardwork and digital brilliance the promenade of Souk Al Bahar was transformed into an acid-fueled, Fanta touting, animated wonder. It was friggin awesome. I’ve embed a video of the projection below but it hardly does the thing justice.

As well as being  awesome eye-candy, the event served two main purposes:

  1. Promote the Fanta Chase Facebook competition
  2. Rejuvenate the Fanta brand

The Fanta Chase Facebook competition can be found here, it’s a game based competition. Although i’m using the word competition pretty lightly, the competition is pretty much over. People have already accumulated impossibly high ‘high-scores’ and i’d have to play the game flawlessly until April of next year to even have a chance. Feel free to try yourself though.

The rejuvenation of the Fanta brand is much more interesting. Initially the phrase “More Fanta. Less Serious” made me want to retch; but the idea is growing on me. Very much so. I like this new direction, it shows promise and playfulness.

Let the sales chase between Fanta and Mirinda begin.

Japan: A Humanitarian Disaster

In The Pile on March 31, 2011 at 9:34 am

I’ve avoided writing, speaking, saying or really doing anything about the currently disastrous situation in Japan. It seems like bad taste to use such a nightmare as entertainment. The media have been all over this thing like savage vultures, but who’s to blame them. They’re just doing their job and we’re eating it up. Who gives a flying fudge?

But of all the coverage i’ve read, I think the Onion summarized the situation best: “Deaths Of 20,000 Japanese Afford Planet Solid 15 Minutes In Which Everyone Acts Like A Human Being“.

The ending note hits home strongly:

“Frankly, I reject this notion that it takes tragic events like [the earthquake] for the people of Earth to act like real human beings for once,” MIT sociology professor Samuel Lark told reporters. “After all, most modern research suggests that acting like a callous, unfeeling, vain prick is exactly what being a human being is.”

Dinsoaurs Will Be Dinosaurs

In The Pile on March 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I found this article in today’s National interesting.

‘The Pulitzer Prize finalist David Gates bemoaned the fact in an exchange with the novelist Jonathan Lethem, which was published in the journal PEN America saying, “I probably spend more time e-mailing and reading online than I do having non-virtual human contact… If my characters were like that, would their lives be eventful enough to write about?”.’

I think David is completely missing the point. Of course the act of “E-mailing and reading online” is dull. I can’t imagine anyone making Hotmail sound sexy. “He clicked the Arial size 11 ‘Refresh’ button with his Logitech mouse and waited on his MacBook connecting with the Etisalat internet router to download the new data”. Boring right? Right.

But its only half the story. Heck, its not even a fifth of the story. The real interest is is in what we do online, not what we do online. Tao Lin seems to have the right idea though:“It begins with an online instant-messaging conversation between a man calling himself Haley Joel Osment and a teenage girl calling herself Dakota Fanning, and goes on to incorporate internet chats, e-mails and text messages.”

I want stories like this. I want stories that describe the anticipation I feel spilling secrets over IM. I want stories that tell of Google searches, Facebook stalks and nasty dirty rumors.

Fuck you and fuck your Pultzer. Your a dinosaur.

Earth Hour – An Environmental Turn Off?

In The Pile on March 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

 

Earth Hour

So it was Earth Hour this weekend and apparently the UAE did pretty well at turning off.

According to a 7Days article that ran today, Dubai set a new record this year, “turning off the equivalent of 10 million light-bulbs”. I think this is ruddy brilliant, but it seems as though some others are not quite as convinced.

“I say whoever coined this term needs a kick up their — ya’ all know what I mean here — for it is THE most absurd of all theories for preserving/conserving our natural resources. Shutting down for an hour every year just for the sake of shutting down to prove oneself hip and attuned to world affairs is also not the right way to do it.” – Kyle

Kyle seems to make a fair point. Earth Hour does seem to trivialize and condescend a pretty important issue. But I think we can stand to learn a lot from our good friend Murphy –

“If it’s stupid but works, it’s not stupid.” – Murphy’s Laws of War

Yes Earth Hour is trendy, annoyingly hip and somewhat stupid. But this is exactly what we need. We need something that will change ‘being green’ from something for penny-pinching grannies and hippy vegan chicks to something for everybody.

Earth Hour is proving itself to be precisely that vehicle. Elitism has no place in environmentalism, we’re all in this together and need to work together despite how ‘hip’ it may be.