Our catch-all section meant for stuff we want to write about but don’t know where to put it.
Is it news? Maybe.
Is it fun? If we took the time to write about it then it must be.
Is it weird or gross? There is probably a very good chance.
Will it make you laugh? Only if you share the same warped sense of humor we do.
“Twelve second story Showing your world in motion Do not call me bro” -Daiva Jarasius, AC writer Poetry wasn’t my strong suit in seventh grade and it still isn’t today so Always Current writer Daiva Jarasius wrote a haiku about Hykoo for today’s post. For those of you who aren’t familiar with haikus, this isn’t the most informational post but if you want to learn about Hykoo, read on. If you’ve ever wanted to make short videos from your phone, there’s another new app for that! Hykoo is an app that allows users to create 12 second videos on their phones through a combination of video clips and text with a variety of filters to complement the video. Now, with all the other video creating and sharing platforms out there today, why is something like Hykoo a novelty? We found a couple possible answers to that question. What sets Hykoo apart from the rest of the video creation mobile apps out there today, including Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and more, is how the video is shot. Hykoo, pronounced like and influenced by the poetry style “haiku,” is very structured in it’s format. Similar to the poetry, there are three clips that are three seconds, three seconds, and six seconds long (though technically, it should be five, seven, five, or at least three, six, three, but we aren’t filing a complaint just yet). The video has to be shot in those segments; you can’t shoot all 12 seconds in one sitting because the idea behind Hykoo is you’re sharing a story, and stories often have more than one part. Each clip has some text on it to give the video context. Gary Krieg, one of the founders of the app, explained, “So much of the context of why someone is making and sharing a piece of content lives outside of the image itself, so our format allows that information to travel together.” Unlike Instagram, Vine and Snapchat videos, you can save drafts of these videos until they’re completed and ready to share. Hykoos are shareable on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through email or text so the rest of the world can see your story. Hykoo is an independent startup created by Krieg, the former head of production for ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, Yoni Bloch, founder of interactive video service Interlude, and Jane Rosenthal, a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. The app will officially launch with this years Tribeca Film Festival. As of right now, Hykoo is only available on iOS devices, but the founders are planning to launch a version for Android devices as well. Other changes they’re looking to make include increased interactivity with hykoos. Check out my first Hykoo below....read more
Anyone who’s ever seen any of the James Bond movies knows that the man has the coolest gadgets, from the Aston Martin DB5 to the Rebreather all the way to the classic grapple gun. James Bond’s suaveness and skill make us want to be him – or at least have the gadgets he has. Well my friends, we are one step closer. Beauty Technology, a company that works to develop beauty technology, wearable computers, virtual worlds, and groupware, recently developed a gadget that is raising hairs in the technology world (pun intended). Designer Katia Vega has developed Hairware, an attachable hair clip that lets you communicate with and use your smartphone. I know right? Like, mind blown. So how does this work? The hair extension is woven with wires that “act as a remote touch sensor” to interact with the smartphone. A Bluetooth module and Arduino microcontroller allow the hair to communicate with the phone and tell it what to do. A built-in learning algorithm is then used to detect different touches and strokes, eventually learning to understand and recognize the user’s intentions. Besides Hairware being a super cool James Bond–esque gadget, it could be very beneficial to women everywhere. If they are in a dangerous situation and using a phone is impossible, notifying someone by inconspicuously touching their hair can help save them – for example, by sending a text or turning on a voice recorder. Vega wrote on her website that, “normally, while someone touches her own hair, unconsciously she is bringing comfort to herself and at the same time is emitting a non-verbal message…we add new functionalities to hair extensions, turning them into a seamless device that recognizes auto-contact behaviors concealed to outside observers.” Women aren’t the only ones Beauty Technology is looking out for. Their next step is to use the technology to turn beards into smartphone communicators as well. This is a huge innovation that could definitely make a big impact on the world. Now we just have to sit back and wait until we can get our own Hairware so that we can walk around saying, “The name’s Bond. James...read more
For the past few weeks – heck, the past few months – the Internet has been a buzzing about the iWatch release from Apple. While I’m glad Apple created another device – a wearable one this time – to which I can form an unhealthy emotional attachment, I’d gladly pass in a heartbeat to get my hands on one of these. Meet MOTI, your motivational, habit-forming, robotic, personal cheerleader. MOTI, which I like to think is short for motivation, is a pint-sized gadget that helps you practice, track and eventually form good habits by giving you encouragement. How does this furless, furby-like device help you become a better person, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s not nearly as terrifying as a furby; it’s actually pretty cute and friendly for a robot. You pick a habit you wish to adopt (drinking 8 glasses of water a day, running daily, flossing your teeth, etc.) and you sync that up with your MOTI. We’re guessing there’s a software program or website for that; a mobile app is in the works, but MOTI can be used as a stand alone device at this point in production. Now, back to our example. Lets say the habit you’re trying to form is drinking 8 glasses of water a day. When you drink a glass of water, press the button on MOTI and it will light up, chirp, and vibrate to celebrate your accomplishment. Not reaching your goal? MOTI’s creator, Kayla Matheus said in an interview with Fast Company, “If you start straying, then you’re going to get prompted with a reminder. Rather than being a push notification you can easily wipe away, MOTI might get sad or angry.” MOTI is based in behavioral science, which suggests you need three things to successfully develop a new habit: a trigger, routine, and reward. MOTI gives you the trigger and the reward to maintain or improve your routine. The problem with most fitness trackers and habit-forming apps is there is the reward is delayed and it’s incredibly easy to ignore a notification, delete an app, or take off a bracelet. MOTI is a small hardware device that sits on your desk; it’s physical presence reminds you, “Oh, right, I need to drink more water.” And if that doesn’t, the lights and chirping will. MOTI celebrates your accomplishments and tracks your progress to help your form your new habit; it evolves with you. Matheus said, “My first testers were two guys in their twenties and thirties, and they fell in love with these things. The vocabulary they used was interesting—they’d call it a he or a she, something you’d never do with a wearable [device].” Fast Company reports that one of MOTI’s recent testers used the device at his office. Initially, he worried the chirping and buzzing would irritate his coworkers, but it actually helped him. His coworkers knew his progress, would give him encouragement, and would even sit next to him to watch MOTI do his thing. MOTI was created by Matheus during the 30 Weeks program for designers sponsored in part by Google. Matheus had trouble keeping her physical therapy routine after injuring her ALC and came up with MOTI to help solve that problem. The design for MOTI is based off Japanese Daruma dolls. People would...read more
It’s not like it ever disappeared, but we thoroughly enjoy pop cultural references (#TBT to the Backstreet Boys glory days) and felt it was fitting. Anyways, Snapchat came out with some new updates earlier this week and they are as follows: Friend Emojis Friend emojis replace Snapchat’s Best Friends list. The new feature categorizes your Snapchat friendships with emoticons so you both know where you stand in your snapship. Here’s how Buzzfeed broke it down for us: For those of you who need more information on how these emojis are defining your snapships, please turn your attention to this example of Snapchat’s new system, using the one and only Queen Bey. Also, major props to Josh Constine from TechCrunch for explaining this new concept to us via his Snapchat Story (you’re the real MVP) and bringing this graphic into our lives. The new friend emojis come at a somewhat controversial time for the app users. The Best Friends lists, that you had no option to hide, caused a recent controversy among the pre-teen and teenage demographic when Snapchat removed it. How are you supposed to know if “bae”* is loyal if you can’t check up on who he/she is snapchatting? *It causes me physical pain to use that word. MAKE IT STOP, WORLD. Well, Snapchat removed the feature a couple of weeks ago, only to come out with this alternative method of ranking and defining your Snapchat relationship. Only now you are the only person who can see the emojis on your incoming snap screen. Looks like users are back to the drawing board when it comes to cyberstalking friends on Snapchat. Low-Light Camera Another new feature for Snapchat is the low-light camera. Snapchat’s camera had subpar lighting abilities for dark resolution pictures compared to other apps using cameras. The crescent moon icon at the top of your camera screen fixes that problem. You can turn it on or off to adjust for the dim lighting by brightening the resolution, making Snapchat more usable for concerts, parties, and other night-life adventures. Please snap responsibly. Needs Love List This is a list of snapchat users and friends that you used to snapchat frequently, but haven’t snapped in a while. Snapchat created a list of your friends that need some love from you because the cats just aren’t cutting it these days. All in all, we think Snapchats new features are going to bring some changes to how users go about Snapchatting. I for one am making it a new personal goal to keep my fire emojis blazing day in and day out. We’ll see how long the streak can last. Update: This post was edited at 2:40 p.m. CST to correct the spelling of Josh Constine’s last...read more
These days we’re all about using social media to express our thoughts and emotions. When you want to convey your psychological state of being or initial reaction to something you saw or read to a friend, you can choose between an assortment of methods: Emoticons. They’re fine, but aren’t always the most exciting option and they can get repetitive. Pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, but doesn’t always convey the magnitude of emotions you’re feeling. Videos can be funny and accurate as all get out, but they’re sometimes too long to sit through, especially with a slow Internet connection But a GIF, a GIF is perfection. A few seconds of an image from a TV show, movie, or interview can encompass your reactions and feelings for just about anything, And GIFs do so quite accurately, if not dramatically and hilariously, too. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to make GIFs so they just use search engines like Tumblr and Giphy to find the right one. However, a new search engine just launched and changed the competition. Hulu, the popular video streaming service, has launched a GIF search engine powered by Tumblr. The website, called “The Perfect GIF,” allows users to search for GIFs based on different categories such as shows, actions, reactions, current TV, and tags like #dancing or #awkward. At the time of its launch, the website featured 1,400 GIFs, and plans on adding more as shows premiere. These don’t just include GIFs from current shows, but also classics like Star Trek and Twin Peaks. So what’s so special about The Perfect GIF search engine compared to other alternatives? Well, the biggest benefit to Hulu’s GIFs is the high quality. Hulu hosts a variety of shows from different networks including NBC, FOX, Bravo, FX, and more, meaning they have the best quality of videos and can create GIFs using those videos. Hulu’s GIFs are also easy to find and share across social media platforms. The idea behind its GIF search engine is really to promote the Hulu service overall, but hey, if we get free access and an easy way to find GIFs while they do it, we’re not...read more
On a day when others are playing tired practical jokes, posting fake stories, and generally making it more annoying to go about your daily life, Google decided to give us something new and completely awesome instead: Pac-Man. What’s so new and awesome about a game that came out over thirty years ago, you ask? You play it on a map of your neighborhood. Or a map of any place in the world. That’s right. In one of the best April Fool’s Day “pranks” of all time, Google created a feature for their map service that transforms whatever area you choose into a Pac-Man level. If you’re anything like us, right now you’re probably trying to think of the most ridiculously convoluted interchanges you have to deal with in your city. Indeed, depending on the location you pick, the game has hilariously absurd and complicated results. You can pick some pretty aesthetically-pleasing spots too, or if you’re lazy, the Midwest offers a lot of grids. If you’re on a mobile device, your options for playing the game are a bit limited – you can only play the game in a handful of places. Google added an extra twist for these players though: a list of clues corresponding to the various maps available for mobile play. As wonderful as all this is, it seems no good thing comes without a catch: Google says this feature “will only be around for a little while.” While we can hardly bear the thought of a world-travelling Pac-Man being taken away from us, it seems that’s inevitable. So here’s what you need to do right now: head on over to Google Maps, type in a location, click the Pac-Man icon in the lower-left corner of the screen and GO. Our advice: watch out for the...read more
The day where you’ll be able to dedicate an entire website towards your dislike of a brand, your love of a sport, or your obsession with a country is finally on the horizon. Come June, you’ll be able to purchase a domain name that’s specific to the intended purpose of your website. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released a list of 500+ top-level domain names under which the public can register their websites. That list includes everything from .sucks and .porn to .news and .Budapest, with more domain names added daily. We can’t wait to see what these new domain names bring to the Internet world – the creative potential is endless – but some options will be spoken for. ICANN is giving trademarks and celebrities first dibs on any possible sites that could be registered using their names. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and entities such as Harvard and Microsoft are taking advantage of the early access period and have already registered for certain domain names to protect their brands. There’s some chatter from companies suggesting that these domain names are a form of extortion, compelling firms to buy them so others don’t taint their brand. Logically, it makes sense that some people would be ticked off but still scoop up the negative domain names to be safe. What they don’t see is this is also an opportunity to address customer complaints and see how they can improve their brand. It’s one of those glass half-full, glass half-empty instances where the situation really depends on your perspective. For those of you who can’t wait for these new domain names to be released to the public, start saving your money (each domain registration is around $250) and start counting down until June. We’ll be on the lookout for the sad, funny, and outrageous...read more
He’s at it again. Despite the notoriously harsh YouTube comments, aggravating cryptic Facebook status updates, insulting and inappropriate Tweets, and other *ahem* unsightly things found on the Internet, Pope Francis today declared the Internet a “gift from God.” Of course, he wasn’t referring to those sorts of negatives. He was talking about the worldwide communication with the potential to start dialogue with individuals of different beliefs and backgrounds. In his letter to the faithful, the Pontiff is again showing the world just how modern and progressive he is compared to his predecessors. He stressed that the Church must be “present in the world of communication in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ.” Pope Francis seems to be determined to open the doors of the Catholic Church and bring it fully into the 21st century. In his letter, he compared the use of social media and other online communications to the popular parable of the Good Samaritan. He encourages people to reach out to those who are hurting or alone and share God’s message. “Thanks to the Internet,” he wrote, “Christian witness…can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.” Francis made clear, however, that he does not mean digitally shoving Catholicism down people’s throats. “[It] is not about bombarding people with religious messages,” he explained. Rather, this gift of communication should be about “our willingness to be available to others…To believe that the ‘other’ has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective.” Furthermore, the Pope described the dangers of being “too connected,” saying that the physical distance could cause us to “fail to see our real neighbor.” This is certainly true of a lot of those inflammatory YouTube comments and cases of cyber bullying. He further warned that becoming too absorbed in the media “can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us.” Despite the obvious negatives online, Pope Francis doesn’t see them as reasons to reject the web and social media. In fact, he makes good use of social media himself. You can follow him on Twitter @Pontifex, and on Facebook at /PopeFranciscus. So tweet and post on, my friends. You have His blessing. Image via: Pope Francis’ Twitter...read more
It’s been almost eight years since Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey, and the oft forgotten Noah Glass created everyone’s favorite app, Twitter. It’s also been close to 17 years since Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph launched the popular DVD rental and online streaming service known as Netflix. In the time that these two companies have been around, a lot has happened and a lot has changed. What many people probably didn’t expect, however, is that these companies would one day be at the heart of the entertainment world. What exactly have these two companies done for this industry in the time since their arrival? To start, Twitter has done what no other platform could do before and took advantage of the rise in both the Internet and the adoption/use of smartphones. Before these two things become commonplace in our lives, “ordinary” people and celebrities were living in two very different bubbles. With Twitter, these worlds were very quickly brought together and changed. As seen with the Golden Globes, which took place last night, Twitter has been at the heart of not only being one of the top places to keep up with the show in real-time (if you can’t watch), but also a place where fans can flock and send congratulations to the people they admire most. For some, the idea of that still seems a bit odd, but having a connection to something that many of us may never be apart of is what makes Twitter such a powerful tool. By being able to congratulate another person while also “seeing” what’s going on in the show that you couldn’t watch, shows that the popular social media app has a stronger reach than we may have thought possible. Although streaming an event through live tweets is one way to go about enjoying something, Netflix has been able to turn the entertainment world on its ear in the past year. 2013 saw the release of House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Hemlock Grove, and Derek, to name a few. Something happened with the release of original programming that many were not expecting. They ended up doing extremely well and have begun receiving recognition, something a non-cable show has never done. After receiving a total of 13 Emmy nominations back in September and winning one for direction on House of Cards, it set into motion just how far Netflix could take shows that never see the light of day through your cable provider. Last night, Robin Wright won a Golden Globe for her work on House of Cards. With season 2 of some of Netflix’s most popular shows on their way in the next few months, the next few years of TV award shows could be riddled with content that is “for streaming only.” There’s no telling how far technology will take us in the coming years, and the chances of it impacting the entertainment industry even more is an even greater unknown. What we do know is this: technology will only go so far unless we continue to adapt to it and use it to our benefit. With things like Twitter and Netflix at the forefront of our intake of new media, there really is no telling how far we will go. One more form of new media that...read more