Forecast.io is awesome

Like many Dutch people I am a weather freak. Not of the “weather station at home installed”-kind, but the type that frantically checks whether we’re gonna drown because it’s never gonna stop raining and we’re below sea level AND EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG!!!! I’ve got several weather apps on my iPhone, besides the standard Apple Weather app: Weather Pro, Buienradar (the Dutch app that shows you where it’s raining) and Haze.

None of these apps satisfy my weather needs completely… I also like a good design, and more often than not, weather apps are too detailed (and ugly) or too minimalistic to satisfy my weather nerd needs (Haze).

Cue Forecast.io, a web app that almost feels like a native app… It tells you the weather condition for your current location and the condition for the next 24 hours. But the beauty is in what it’s not immediately showing: the forecast for the next 7 days is hidden at the bottom and can be revealed by swiping upwards. Even more beautiful: clicking on “Map” in the top corner reveals an extensive map that shows you animated rain clouds for the past days and the upcoming couple of days. While I’m not sure how accurate this all is, it looks beautiful and provides just enough detail to satisfy my needs.

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Forecast.io works in your browser as well, but it works way better on your phone, I find. I’ve added it to my homescreen as a webapp.

How I got broadcaster RTL5 to broadcast ‘127 Hours’ twice in 50 hours’ time

I say “How I got…” but this really is one of those social media stories. I am writing this down because I know I’ll forget the details in a couple of years and it’s nice to be able to look this up and remember. 

There’s a certain level of nostalgia and warmth to watching a film together on television as it is broadcast. When I was younger my dad and I used to watch all the James Bond films together (and to this day we go to the cinema each time a new one is released). So while I’ve used my iMac to watch tons of films since the arrival of broadband internet, I’m not totally against watching a film on commercial tv. Even if that means I have to endure several commercial breaks per hour and several pop-ups during the film promoting reality TV shows I usually have no interest in. It’s a nice activity to do with my dad and thus when I visit he usually asks me “Are there any good films on tonight?”
20130224_160553_james-franco-in-127-hours

Last Saturday night the answer was: “Yes, RTL5 is broadcasting 127 Hours, where a guy gets stuck in the middle of nowhere while canyoneering.” I had wanted to watch this film for a while, but hadn’t got round to it. So I was genuinely excited. And it was good, right up to the point – and I assume this is common knowledge – when THAT scene happened. That scene where Aron, played by James Franco, frees himself by cutting of his right arm. I assume that the fact that this happens is common knowledge, because it caused quite a stir when the film was released. And my tv guide actually announced the “moving and disturbing” scene.

Now I’m not one for gore in movies. I’ve never seen Saw. The only horror flick I ever tried to watch was The Fly 2 when I was a kid and that involved me walking away from the television whenever the (imagined?) gore became too much. But it was my choice to walk or look away. I like to have that choice.

 

(full disclosure: I did see Cabin in the Woods, but I put the volume down during the scary parts)

Continue reading “How I got broadcaster RTL5 to broadcast ‘127 Hours’ twice in 50 hours’ time”

Growing pains

January 2013. It still feels a bit like the future. So far, the month has been a lot like 2012, but with added snow and back pains. My first working week was troubled by a rib in my chest acting up. A guy straightened me out but I felt it for most of the weekend and didn’t feel good enough to play sports last Monday. So when I woke up Saturday morning and felt pretty good, I was quite happy with that. Then I took a shower and did something weird when using the towel. It was completely unnecessary what I did but it felt like something moved and immediately snapped back. Not sure what it was but my neck has been troubling me since. Last night I slept pretty good but I woke up whenever I moved my head. It didn’t feel like a broken night, so hopefully tonight won’t be one either. And I’m desperately hoping that tomorrow the pain will have lessened. For now I call these growing pains. I joke to myself I’m getting old. I hope I’m not though. I can’t be!

Meanwhile, fresh snow has fallen here in The Netherlands. Which delivers on lots of nice Instagrams and other pretty pictures. But I am not a big fan of going outside when the wind feels like the whole Western world forgot to close the fridge. The temperature outside was supposed to be a mere -2 (Celcius) but it felt like -10. Not comfortable at all. So apart from getting my hair cut, doing shopping and visiting a friend to play music, I stayed indoors mostly. I also blame it on my neck – a little.

The fresh snow did prevent me from seeing a couple of musicians and my favourite (still alive) children’s book author Toon Tellegen live in my parents’ hometown. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get back home tonight, so I stayed home and watched some football instead. I also caught up with some back issues of Wired. It dawned on me that listening to some jazz with some tea, a couple of candles and some reading is enough for me to get completely relaxed.

Oh and I did buy the new I Am Kloot while out and about yesterday. On vinyl. And while I had my reservations about These Days Are Mine and the Elbow-esque directions (while I like Elbow as a a band!) the album might head in, so far I’m not disappointed. The title track I’ve been familiar with for a couple of years, dating back from pre-I Am Kloot band The Mouth. This version is kind of nice though. The Kloot version is a bit more polished I guess…

So I wonder how well the new Kloot will sell and whether it’ll give the band more mainstream success… Time will tell. They definitely deserve some succes…

A phrase

The grander gesture. If you watch too much series, films and read too many books in a row, you’ll start believing that most people’s lives are made up of grand gestures. Of escape plans, of making a point. Of making things happen. But I don’t know anyone who actually does that. I’ve seen people break with their lives – in some form – and go abroad, start over and do something new. I’ve seen people travel, not caring about jobs or education for a while. I’ve seen people taking it easy for a while. But I haven’t seen the montage, the dramatic music, the making-a-point… It doesn’t exist like that, not in my real life.

I always dream up album titles, some good, some funny, some really bad. A while ago I stumbled onto a bad one. Still, it’s been stuck in my head, like some sort of mantra. It keeps popping up. Probably because I like to criticize my own behavior and choices. Like I need to move to an even better place but do not in the end. Not going through with something like that feels like letting myself down, even though I realize it’s actually the better option for so many different reasons. Simply the fact that it’s the less exciting choice, though, makes me feel like letting myself down. There’s no other reason. I’m getting better at thinking something’s good enough, I’ve grown in that way in the past year.

A good moment to reflect, these final days of 2012. But I don’t even want to do that. 2012 has been a good year but it’s also been a difficult year. Difficult to make it good. I think my life was way easier when I was just ignoring the bad stuff instead of trying to fix it. So, while my life is getting better, my main goal seems to be to make it better without working for it. No, scratch that, I don’t mind working for it. My main goal seems to be to make life better without caring about it on a daily basis. I wish I could let that go. That’s not my plan for 2013 though, that would be totally contradicting myself.

That crappy album title phrase? … And then I stopped caring and moved on with my life. But that’s probably never gonna happen. So how I’ll get an album full of songs about it I don’t know… And then I cared a little less and moved on with my life. Now that’s a bit more realistic. And even worse as an album title.

All the best for 2013 :).

Everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook

Facebook is used by so many people these days, that everything it does is viewed with a certain skepticism. Is this the moment Facebook is falling down? It is not. While a vocal minority hates every new thing Facebook introduces, it needs to fail pretty big to properly fail. It’s not gonna crash and burn overnight, but that doesn’t mean everything Facebook does is right. Like scanning your private messages for links. Or releasing this ad.

In this ad, Facebook is compared to things we use everyday. Because we use Facebook everyday. It makes sense. But to me, this feels like fifteen ads in one. Because after comparing Facebook to chairs, Facebook is also compared to lots of other things and then suddenly it turns into a philosophical video that ponders why we’re using Facebook in the first place.

Facebook is like a chair. No actually a couch.

We make things. And we make Facebook to make sure we’re not alone, but instead, sitting alone typing on a computer. Is that truly the definition of not being alone? It must have changed since I last had a late night Facebook session, I felt pretty alone at some point.

And of course, you can make fun of the Chairs-analogy;

  • What do you mean? I can sit ON Facebook?
  • A chair for more people? Isn’t that a couch?
  • Oh, yes I always leave messages on my chairs.
  • Can I sit on my chair and be on Facebook at the same time? Does that mean I’m sitting on two chairs or using two Facebooks?

Nope, everything is like a chair, everything but Facebook, but that doesn’t make it a bad ad. After all, ads usually aren’t famous for their great truths but for what they make you feel, do or like. The thing is that this ad mainly confuses. It makes Facebook looks like an everyday thing, but also like something grand, like something you connect with but also like something you use for something else (as a means to an end). It tries to do so many things, that it confuses. This ad is like a website cluttered full of features and too much content on one page and some parts of it… you just don’t get.

Come to think of it… That’s just like Facebook.

But I’m not sure that was the message they wanted to get across…

TNW: We Need Smarter Push Notifications

I wrote a new blog for TheNextWeb. Click on the image to read it. Or don’t.

Push notifications are one of the key features of today’s smartphones. They constantly feed you information from a variety of services. From Twitter mentions to Facebook replies to e-mails to system notifications: they’re the daily dose for information addicts. And now they’re coming to the land of PC with Windows 8 and OS X Mountain Lion– which is a little worrying. While they’re designed to keep you updated and thus increase your productivity, they’re flurrying nature often does the opposite.

Read the rest >>

Blogging, again

Since 2012 I’ve started blogging again for TheNextWeb. My pieces will mostly be about social media and related topics. I do not claim I am a social media guru, but my favourite type of articles are blogs where I can either a) analyse a strategy or b) comment on how recent developments are going to influence the not-so-distant future on the Interwebs. When I do the latter, people often claim I’m wrong, but the beauty is the freedom of the Internet allows for many scenarios to be possible. I could try to be objective and say “this might happen or this might happen”, but well… That’s not going to make a good read right? So I’d rather investigate one (very) likely scenario and see how that might influence the Internet as we know it.

If that’s something you like, keep an eye on my archive here. There should be something new every week.

Why you should try Soundrop on Spotify

Spotify Apps have only been available for less than a month, but I already have a favourite app: Soundrop. Although I am a big fan of the Last.fm app and the improved Spotify Radio (having already discovered several new artists through there – although some tracks pop up there a lot for some reason), I am spending most of Spotify listening habit on Soundrop. Because I’ve been waiting for Soundrop for over a year.

At my previous job we at some point started making “radio” on Spotify. I’d create a collaborative playlist and everyone in the office would subscribe. Then, we’d all add songs we like (or we thought were annoying, to annoy the others) and listen. Because you couldn’t vote for tracks or delete them (well you could delete them but it was against my rules), all tracks would get played. It was a bit like a radio station of your combined music taste.

Soundrop is a bit like that: you have a virtual room that you can join. Then, everyone is allowed to add tracks and you listen to it all. The only difference is that Soundrop DOES have a voting system. Thus, people have to decide whether they think the track you added is good before it actually gets played. Your track may end up in the bottom of the playlist with one vote. But if other people like your suggestion, they’ll vote for it and soon, your track will pop up. You can start your own room but you can also join a room with a certain theme (like Indie Wok).

The addictive part of this is – for me at least – that you have to listen to tracks you normally wouldn’t listen to. As I write this, I’m listening to Say Hi To Your Mom with Blah Blah Blah. Say Hi To Your Mom is one of those bands that I’ve heard of, but never listened to. Now, because other people vote for them, you HAVE listen to them (unless you leave Soundrop) and you might realise that you are missing out. Can you remember those times when you heard a new song on the radio and you fell in love with it? Yea, me neither, but it’s like that. And every now and then a song pops up that you love.

So that’s why you should try Soundrop. Because it broadens your musical horizon, peppered with tracks you already love. And it’s free as long as you have Spotify.

Which you have, right?

Right?

Call for pop/alt/culture/nice bloggers

Decided: some friends and I are going to launch a new website on 1 January 2012. That gives us just over two months to prepare. But we need more bloggers. We need a WHOLE LOT of bloggers.

It has intelligent, nice people writing about things they like… Music, films, books, art, websites, tech, food, thoughts, science and all other manifestations of the human mind AND nature. If you like it and can write about it, it’s probably suitable.

We want to write about things we like and the way they’re influencing us. What makes the world this great is that people can connect to the things in it. So even though this website is going to be big, it’s going to be personal. You don’t have to positive – because even things we like can let us down. But eventually it’s about giving attention to things we like, BECAUSE we like them. How you do that, is up to you… As long as it includes original content on our website.

This website will be our little project.  Compare it to an open-air theatre. You’ll rehearse a few weeks, then you’ll manage to convince some friends to come for free on opening night. They’ll tell their friends if they like it and they will tell their friends. And the show never stops and the people who like it will keep on coming back. That’s why we need a lot of contributors who can all have their friends tell their friends. If there’s any money left at the end of the year, we’ll reward all of our loyal writers/editors.

If you like the description above, I really want you to join! Write to me via the form below. Include the following info:

  • Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
  • List all the things you like AND want to write about.
  • Give us an indication how often you’ll be able to write initially (keep in mind you need time to enjoy the things you want to write about :)).
  • If there’s an article you’re proud of (in English), please include it. If you don’t have one, feel free to write something fresh about something you really like right now.

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