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Archive for April, 2009

Lance Armstrong and the LIVESTRONG brand are savvy marketing machines. When Lance is not training for his return to the Tour de France he is updating his fans on Twitter, via his personal site or the Livestong site.  The Livestong website is aiming to become the ” the definitive daily health, fitness and lifestyle destination..and help people take action to make the most of their life, their time, their body and their world.”

Lance and his team produce a ton of cool and interesting content on a variety of platforms – articles, pictures, videos, blogs, tips, applications – and he has build himself a following of over 700,000 on Twitter alone.

Smart and professional, yes. Perfect? No. Last week, when attempting to post videos of his latest training ride on Twitter, Lance accidently posted his personal email address to nearly three quarters of a million fans. The emails immediately began pouring in. One response might have been to ignore the problem, change email adress and never mention it again.  He decided on a different approach. He immediately acknowledged, thanked everyone for the emails, and within five hours had posted a video response that explained the situation and sharing some of his followers’ emails.

A potentially difficult situation brilliantly managed. Some of the biggest brands in the world could learn a thing or two.

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This is really cool. Some brilliant pics of Obama’s first 100 days – all available to share and reproduce. (if credited properly)

Credit: Official White House Flickr Stream

Credit: Official White House Flickr Stream

If you’re into photography – this from National Geographic is also well worth a regular look. And while I’m at it, the pictures in this travel article are just amazing.  I want to go!

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You’ve probably all heard the news: co-founder of MySpace Chris DeWolfe has left the social network. Rumours abound that the new head of digital operations, Jonathan Miller, plans to replace the executive team.

That’s all just a smoke screen. Here’s the real reason:

Chuck Norris is suing Myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.

To find out how Chuck Norris is affecting your life, click here.

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To put the Twitter feed in the right navigation of this blog in place I needed to create an aggregated RSS feed. There’s a million ways of doing this, but I wanted the easiest/quickest/best and my Google searches hadn’t offered an obvious answer… so I asked on Twitter. @GuavaMarkeD helped me out, and now here’s a guide for you to find, Interwebs:

1) Subscribe to one of the RSS feeds you want to add to your composite RSS feed in Google Reader

2) Create a new folder category for it

3) Repeat with all other relevant RSS feeds, filing them in that folder

4) Click on ‘settings’ in Google Reader

5) Click on the ‘private’ setting to make it ‘public’, at which point you’ll be given a link to a web page with the content, including an RSS subscription button

Handy for all sorts of things (e.g. wanting to track all social mentions or a person/client/thing/news event in a consolidated feed), and easy when you know how. I’ve posted it here under the headline of my search term as am sure other people will want to know how…

If you want thoughts on other ways to use Twitter, btw, Lifehacker has six suggestions

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I have a confession to make: I’m on my knees thanks to a filthy new addiction: growing my own grub.

Every day I end up covered in organic soil from seeding, potting, planting out, digging in, uprooting, weeding, and going toe-to-toe with zombie-like slugs and death-from-above wood pigeons. And before you think I’ve lost the plot, I’m not the only one.

Urban farming is a dirty new trend taking root in London’s zone 2 neighbourhoods and beyond, thanks to projects like Landshare, which just launched this week. Landshare matches untended (or unwanted) gardens with garden-less growers.

Swapping Starbucks for PH soil tests

As a grower – I ran my first urban farming project last year – I’m all for it, and have signed up to assist less-able folks in their growing efforts. Plenty of people in my area are taking part, as East Dulwichians swap their Nars varnish for soil-caked fingernails, their Converse sneakers for Hunter wellies, and Starbucks for soil PH tests. There are a number of drivers behind this behaviour.

Trends like the slow food movement, the food miles debate, and the economic nosedive are convincing people to think differently when it comes to their scran. London needs 125 times its own area to provide the resources it consumes,  so it’s no surprise people are taking matters into their own hands.

Mutant carrots

Some people are even calling for participatory landscaping with a greater sense of urgency than Landshare, an article on which features my highly experimental mutant carrot strain from last season.  However, if you’re not convinced about turning London’s available spaces – from decked yards to vacant lots – into urban farms, then at least sharpen your secateurs for fashion’s sake.

Gardening as vandalism

If you need any more convincing that it’s hip to grow, then look no further than achingly hip sportswear brand, Adidas, whose guerrilla gardening project last year saw the brand ‘vandalise’ public spaces with flower power. What’s next I wonder – Banksy ditching his spray paint for mushroom spores to save the world?

Crossposted at my other blog.

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Working for a technology PR company and writing on this technacious blog, I wanted to my first blog post to cover an old-school institution that’s still managing to buck the downturn: cinema.

Trawl through any culture-vulture publication on the web and you can find stats showing that trips to the local multiplex have benefited massively from the recession. Look at the sales of The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia. This is big business and the outlook is only getting bigger. Another dimension bigger.

The BFI IMAX has already offered people the chance to view films on screens nearing the height of five double-decker buses and 3D is quickly becoming a staple supplement to our effects and explosion cravings (Bolt 3D is worthy of all your pocket, lunch and milk money).

The culmination of this could well prove to be James Cameron’s Avatar. The movie is being shot with revolutionary 3D cameras that the director designed himself – and the project was apparently put on hold for years while cinema technology caught up with his ambitions. In an interview with The Independent (via Total Film) the man describes the project as:

“a futuristic tale set on a planet 200 years hence. It’s an old-fashioned jungle adventure with an environmental conscience . . . The film requires me to create an entirely new alien culture and language, and for that I want ‘photo-real’ CGI characters. Sophisticated enough performance-capture animation technology is only coming on stream now. I’ve spent the last 14 months doing performance-capture work – the actor performs the character and then we animate it.”

Rumours abide that he who brought us Titanic (officially the highest grossing movie ever) can truly revolutionise and usher in a new format of 3D and IMAX cinema.

Now I’m all for this. Cameron is a genius and I’ll be strapping on whatever funky goggles or inappropriate headwear I need to marvel at Avatar in all its glory. BUT there’s something tobe said for those cinemas that stick to what they know, that take pleasure in looking back on what has been so great about movies from before…

The Prince Charles Cinema in London offers a £10 yearly membership with £1.50 for subsequent visits. It has none of the sheen or shine of its Leicester Square stablemates but does have retro posters from the 70’s covering the walls around its basement screen. I stared at a domineering Travis Bickle as I bought my popcorn before watching Die Hard there one evening. Yes, that’s right – the Prince Charles screens old movies from Top Gun to Point Break, to Vertigo and Rear Window. It even has High School Musical the ‘sing-a-long’ version.

I watched Die Hard on the big screen mere weeks ago – complete in its grubby 35mm Technicolor with little-to-no after effects; the film had blotches, botched sound, missing scenes and fleeting moments of focus. Yet this was a cinema experience to remember – the best I’ve had in my 22 years. The people that watch these films are not there for the gimmicks, they don’t care about the new Toffee Crisp popcorn or the largest number of pixels you can squeeze into a transforming toaster. The audience I witnessed was one that revelled in the low-tech, simple pleasure of watching an iconic movie on the big screen. We cheered when Bruce Willis first enters the frame. We booed when Alan Rickman and his cronies step out of that elevator. And we raised the roof when those immortal words “yippee ki yay….” were uttered by our blue collar hero in our blue collar multiplex.

To top it off? It’s Quentin Tarantino’s favourite cinema in London. Grindhouse indeed.

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Old school

I thought I was back in the 1990s this morning, when I read this. I couldn’t quite believe that a) people were still trying the old 419 trick; and b) someone actually fell for it.

If you read the comments attached to the article, you’ll see the general sentiment appears to be that the victim doesn’t deserve a huge amount of sympathy, which I suppose is fair enough. If you’re going to believe an email littered with typos from someone you don’t know, you probably deserve to be taught a lesson. Perhaps not to the tune of £350k, but once bitten, twice shy etc.

“My wife is dead and I am dying/ I am the CFO of a multinational corporation and I am dying/ I know too much and I am dying/ I have stolen a drug king pin’s spare change and I am dying.” We all know them, we’ve all read them, we’ve all wondered what would happen if we responded (to find out, check this out). It’s just surprising that people still fall for them.

But then, I spend all day in front of a computer, talking about, writing about and reading about technology. If I were to get caught out by one of these, I may as well ditch the tech PR job. The victim in this case was a doctor, and probably was too busy saving lives to be completely au fait with the latest in 419 scams.

At least, that’s the hope.

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