JasonW informs me that Coffin Dodgers is actually being pirated (as opposed to being listed on sites that don’t actually have it). It’s here if you’re interested, although the download links try to get you to sign up for things you don’t need and install things you don’t want.
The book is also available legally on Amazon, of course. Only 99p!
I know central heating isn’t quite as exciting as tablets and smartphones, but after my boiler packed up yet again it’s worth mentioning this: if you have an Ideal Isar boiler and don’t pay for British Gas HomeCare-style cover, you really should.
My one’s suffered from electrode failures (twice), some internal gubbins going wrong (three times) and this time, the failure of the heat exchanger (again) and circuit board; it’s seven years old and it’s been breaking down at least once a year for the last four years. Each time, the gas engineers tell me that the Isar is far and away the most unreliable and problem-prone boiler they deal with – and each time, the boiler cover saves me from a frighteningly expensive repair bill. If you’ve got one, make sure it’s covered.
Unscrupulous app developers are in the news again today, with parents suffering “bill shock” when the kids buy expensive in-game items without the parents’ permission. There’s a setting in iOS that makes such things possible even if you don’t share your password with your kids, and it’s a good idea to change it.
It’s in Settings > General > Restrictions > Allowed Content (I’m assuming you’ve already used Restrictions to set some parental controls; if not, you need to click Enable Restrictions in here). By default In-App Purchases are enabled, and where it says Require Password, the default is 15 minutes. What that means is that if you enter your password to download a free app, the password is then stored for fifteen minutes – and during that period apps can sell expensive in-app purchases without asking for the password. Some kid-targeted apps are well aware of that.
The simplest thing to do is to disable in-app purchases altogether, but if you don’t want to do that then you really ought to change the Require Password setting.
Boston Dynamics’ legendary Big Dog has been given a robot arm. Officially the arm is to help soldiers pick up and carry heavy things, so it’s strange to see the company’s promotional video showing Big Dog chucking breeze blocks while dancing and shouting “destroy all humans!” Okay, not that last bit – but we dare you to watch the video without spending the next week dreaming of Big Dog chasing you through a forest.
I’m fascinated by Google Glass, which is either a game-changer or one of those products that crashes and burns spectacularly. What interests me the most isn’t the tech, though. It’s how we’ll react to it. My gut feeling is that there’s a massive difference between people carrying around cameraphones and people actually having cameras strapped to their heads. I wrote about it for Techradar:
Imagine you’re in a playpark with your child and you see a funny-looking man wearing Glass, looking over. Would you feel comfortable? How about if the Glass owner is looking at you in the gym, or in a communal changing room, or is behind you on the escalator on a day you’re wearing a short skirt?
The comedy show Burnistoun included a really funny sketch about civic pride, which is one of my favourites (it’s at about 15:50 into the clip):
I was reminded of it this week when the comedian Susan Calman received a barrage of abuse for saying something perfectly accurate about Scottish politics. As the Scotsman reports, Calman said this about the independence debate:
At the moment it is just two people shouting, ‘Aye, we will have it’ and someone going ‘No, we won’t’
Perfectly true and not vaguely party political, so of course some people have gone crazy. It turns out that Susan is a traitor who has betrayed all of Scotland. She’s received death threats. Internet death threats, of course, but they’re still death threats. As Brian Wilson writes, also in The Scotsman:
The idea of anyone taking offence at this is almost beyond belief – anywhere but in Scotland. And that is the reason why Susan Calman’s subsequent blog on the subject deserves the widest possible audience of thinking people in Scotland.
This ties in with something Susan talked about on Twitter recently: the lack of satire on Scottish television. At the time I thought the problem was Rory Bremner Syndrome – it’s near-impossible to get satire right, and it often comes across as unbearable smuggery – but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because broadcasters just can’t be arsed dealing with the inevitable abuse.
Yesterday, the internet was outraged by a viral advert for Hyundai that used suicide to sell cars. It was unbelievably irresponsible and utterly offensive, and as a result it’s been a huge success. It also demonstrates that people in advertising think we’re all fucking idiots.
The advert was a terrible mistake, Hyundai says, and it was never supposed to be used for promotional purposes. Hyundai’s own ad agency merely brainstormed it, scripted it, hired people to make it, edited it and produced it for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and it’s a mystery how the media desks of The Drum and The Guardian got hold of it (both sites, incidentally, lauded the ad: the Drum made it ad of the day; the Guardian one of its ads of the week. The latter has now been removed from the Guardian website).
The thing is, it’s done exactly what Hyundai wanted: spread the word about its ix35 car.
He failed to kill himself because the car had “100 percent water emissions,” according to the advert… Hyundai’s crossover ix35 car which is sold as the Tucson in the United States will go on sale in Europe by 2015 as the company seeks to leap-frog its competition in the eco-friendly car segment.
A script appears at the bottom promoting “the new ix35 with 100 per cent water emissions,” before fading to the Hyundai logo.
The car in question is the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Hyundai ix35: the tagline at the end of the advert reads: “The ix35 with 100 per cent water emissions.”
the slogan reveals the latest Hyundai vehicle has 100% water emissions.
But the ad ends with the man exiting his garage unharmed, with text revealing that the latest Hyundai vehicle has 100% water emissions.
You get the idea.
Yesterday I didn’t know that Hyundai had a fuel cell car in the works, and I didn’t know there was such a thing as an ix35. Now I do, and so do lots of other people. Mission accomplished.
To pull one offensive advert is unfortunate. To pull two suggests a pattern – and Hyundai has form here. In 2011, it used death to promote its Veloster car in a spot that some believe was deliberately “banned” to get more column inches. It’s hard not to look at the suicide ad controversy and imagine a bunch of creatives slapping themselves on the back for a job well done.
I think on balance I’m less offended by this kind of ad than by the crocodile tears cried when viral ads achieve exactly what they were designed to do.