The rise of the commercial virtual reality experience

It is discussed for quite some years now – Science Fiction writers and movies predicted it and now, now is the time for us to enjoy it as part of our every day life.

Virtual and Augmented reality technology is not something new. We have seen many attempts for a successful utilization of the concept since the early 90’s, but now we have reached the point that it can be realized in a commercial level.

Prices for equipment went down significantly while the processing power, memory storage and electronic capabilities reached the level that it can feel real and immersive.

I would like to bring to your attention two very interesting finds I made lately, the VOID project and UWM unleashed. The videos speak for themselves so I will leave you to enjoy them.

Unified Weapons Master Unleashed – Armored Melee weapons combat of the future

VOID the “Advanced” virtual reality experience

What do you think that the next step will be?

Unlock the hIdden Netflix categories

This a nice list of all the hidden categories on Netflix.Simply replace the number on the address bar with one of the numbers below

Action & Adventure: 

As far as I can understand these are the same regardless of the location you are accessing Netflix from.

Action & Adventure: 1365
Action Comedies: 43040
Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1568
Action Thrillers: 43048
Adult Animation: 11881
Adventures: 7442
African Movies: 3761
Alien Sci-Fi: 3327
Animal Tales: 5507
Anime: 7424
Anime Action: 2653
Anime Comedies: 9302
Anime Dramas: 452
Anime Fantasy: 11146
Anime Features: 3063
Anime Horror: 10695
Anime Sci-Fi: 2729
Anime Series: 6721
Art House Movies: 29764
Asian Action Movies: 77232
Australian Movies: 5230
B-Horror Movies: 8195
Baseball Movies: 12339
Basketball Movies: 12762
Belgian Movies: 262
Biographical Documentaries: 3652
Biographical Dramas: 3179
Boxing Movies: 12443
British Movies: 10757
British TV Shows: 52117
Campy Movies: 1252
Children & Family Movies: 783
Chinese Movies: 3960
Classic Action & Adventure: 46576
Classic Comedies: 31694
Classic Dramas: 29809
Classic Foreign Movies: 32473
Classic Movies: 31574
Classic Musicals: 32392
Classic Romantic Movies: 31273
Classic Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 47147
Classic Thrillers: 46588
Classic TV Shows: 46553
Classic War Movies: 48744
Classic Westerns: 47465
Comedies: 6548
Comic Book and Superhero Movies: 10118
Country & Western/Folk: 1105
Courtroom Dramas: 528582748
Creature Features: 6895
Crime Action & Adventure: 9584
Crime Documentaries: 9875
Crime Dramas: 6889
Crime Thrillers: 10499
Crime TV Shows: 26146
Cult Comedies: 9434
Cult Horror Movies: 10944
Cult Movies: 7627
Cult Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 4734
Cult TV Shows: 74652
Dark Comedies: 869
Deep Sea Horror Movies: 45028
Disney: 67673
Disney Musicals: 59433
Documentaries: 6839
Dramas: 5763
Dramas based on Books: 4961
Dramas based on real life: 3653
Dutch Movies: 10606
Eastern European Movies: 5254
Education for Kids: 10659
Epics: 52858
Experimental Movies: 11079
Faith & Spirituality: 26835
Faith & Spirituality Movies: 52804
Family Features: 51056
Fantasy Movies: 9744
Film Noir: 7687
Food & Travel TV: 72436
Football Movies: 12803
Foreign Action & Adventure: 11828
Foreign Comedies: 4426
Foreign Documentaries: 5161
Foreign Dramas: 2150
Foreign Gay & Lesbian Movies: 8243
Foreign Horror Movies: 8654
Foreign Movies: 7462
Foreign Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 6485
Foreign Thrillers: 10306
French Movies: 58807
Gangster Movies: 31851
Gay & Lesbian Dramas: 500
German Movies: 58886
Greek Movies: 61115
Historical Documentaries: 5349
Horror Comedy: 89585
Horror Movies: 8711
Independent Action & Adventure: 11804
Independent Comedies: 4195
Independent Dramas: 384
Independent Movies: 7077
Independent Thrillers: 3269
Indian Movies: 10463
Irish Movies: 58750
Italian Movies: 8221
Japanese Movies: 10398
Jazz & Easy Listening: 10271
Kids Faith & Spirituality: 751423
Kids Music: 52843
Kids’ TV: 27346
Korean Movies: 5685
Korean TV Shows: 67879
Late Night Comedies: 1402
Latin American Movies: 1613
Latin Music: 10741
Martial Arts Movies: 8985
Martial Arts, Boxing & Wrestling: 6695
Middle Eastern Movies: 5875
Military Action & Adventure: 2125
Military Documentaries: 4006
Military Dramas: 11
Military TV Shows: 25804
Miniseries: 4814
Mockumentaries: 26
Monster Movies: 947
Movies based on children’s books: 10056
Movies for ages 0 to 2: 6796
Movies for ages 2 to 4: 6218
Movies for ages 5 to 7: 5455
Movies for ages 8 to 10: 561
Movies for ages 11 to 12: 6962
Music & Concert Documentaries: 90361
Music: 1701
Musicals: 13335
Mysteries: 9994
New Zealand Movies: 63782
Period Pieces: 12123
Political Comedies: 2700
Political Documentaries: 7018
Political Dramas: 6616
Political Thrillers: 10504
Psychological Thrillers: 5505
Quirky Romance: 36103
Reality TV: 9833
Religious Documentaries: 10005
Rock & Pop Concerts: 3278
Romantic Comedies: 5475
Romantic Dramas: 1255
Romantic Favorites: 502675
Romantic Foreign Movies: 7153
Romantic Independent Movies: 9916
Romantic Movies: 8883
Russian: 11567
Satanic Stories: 6998
Satires: 4922
Scandinavian Movies: 9292
Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1492
Sci-Fi Adventure: 6926
Sci-Fi Dramas: 3916
Sci-Fi Horror Movies: 1694
Sci-Fi Thrillers: 11014
Science & Nature Documentaries: 2595
Science & Nature TV: 52780
Screwball Comedies: 9702
Showbiz Dramas: 5012
Showbiz Musicals: 13573
Silent Movies: 53310
Slapstick Comedies: 10256
Slasher and Serial Killer Movies: 8646
Soccer Movies: 12549
Social & Cultural Documentaries: 3675
Social Issue Dramas: 3947
Southeast Asian Movies: 9196
Spanish Movies: 58741
Spiritual Documentaries: 2760
Sports & Fitness: 9327
Sports Comedies: 5286
Sports Documentaries: 180
Sports Dramas: 7243
Sports Movies: 4370
Spy Action & Adventure: 10702
Spy Thrillers: 9147
Stage Musicals: 55774
Stand-up Comedy: 11559
Steamy Romantic Movies: 35800
Steamy Thrillers: 972
Supernatural Horror Movies: 42023
Supernatural Thrillers: 11140
Tearjerkers: 6384
Teen Comedies: 3519
Teen Dramas: 9299
Teen Screams: 52147
Teen TV Shows: 60951
Thrillers: 8933
Travel & Adventure Documentaries: 1159
TV Action & Adventure: 10673
TV Cartoons: 11177
TV Comedies: 10375
TV Documentaries: 10105
TV Dramas: 11714
TV Horror: 83059
TV Mysteries: 4366
TV Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 1372
TV Shows: 83
Urban & Dance Concerts: 9472
Vampire Horror Movies: 75804
Werewolf Horror Movies: 75930
Westerns: 7700
World Music Concerts: 2856
Zombie Horror Movies: 75405

My diet so far

Weigh graph

I haven’t been to Greece for two years and after a whole summer going up and down of 90 kgs i managed in 15 days of vacation time to eat through 4 kilos of everything that is amazingly yummy and Greek.

As you’ve possibly have gathered already the Green line is my weight. The jump at the very beginning after the flat summer is my time in Greece, and then, then I came back.

I must admit at the very beginning it was very very hard. but what I discovered was that what made a huge impact this time around (yes I have tried many times before) was the fact that I kept myself COMPLETELY in check for 2 weeks. After that it was smooth sailing. I started with eating 1750 after 2 weeks I went down to 1500 and now i am consuming a maximum of 1200 calories a day.

But it’s not just about calories. I have come to understand that what these calories are made of is actually even more important. I have started with a diet that had a focus on protein. Beef, pork, chicken and fish became part of almost each meal. One of the other things i had to do is cut down any complex carbohydrates (Pasta, bread, rice, potatoes etc) and trust me this was hard and a huge change. I was still eating a lot of veggies and fruit but carefully.

Soon i have realized that with this diet I was definitely not gaining any weight and sometimes losing a small amount but it was not even close to what i had in mind. I found out two things.

  • If i was eating during the evening the chances that i will have lost weight were way smaller
  • The amount of fat I was eating was making a significant difference on the amount I would lose.

So, two decisions were taken. I had to change what kind of meat i was eating (more chicken and white fish, less pork, beef)  and to keep my dinner extremely light. Keep in mind, and this is important, I was still eating dinner, just a much much lighter one. A good example would be light yogurt and a bit of honey or fruit or a nice soup. Soups are actually an amazing way if Janet is making them check her recipes.

The third thing I had to do was to make sure I move. At least 10.000 steps a day which was not the easiest thing in the world. If I had the time, which was not always the case, i would go for a swim or spend some time with my weights.

Finally, maybe the most important help I got was from CalorieCount, my FitBit and TicTrac. Without being able to gather data and get to learn how my body works there is no way I could pulled it through. I have used CalorieCount to understand what and how I eat and how many calories it had. I used my FitBit to make sure i am reaching 10.000 steps a day (more of the time i would reach 8500) and finally TicTrac to visually understand the impact of my intake and calories usage.

So there you have it. 28 days later I have lost 8.5 kilos and i am still going on. My plan is to become the same weight I was when I was 20 which was 75 kilos.

If you have any questions or there is a way I can help you out, let me know!

Installing composer to an ubuntu AWS server


Installing composer to an ubuntu AWS server is as simple as:

curl -s | php
sudo mv composer.phar /usr/local/bin/composer.phar

And if you want to make your life easier:

alias composer='/usr/local/bin/composer.phar'

Aaaand..done. You got to love composer.


Social media followers: quantity versus quality

It is no secret that most of retail brands (and companies in general) have become obsessed with the idea of social media and all the profit and “untapped” potential waiting to be harvested and “leveraged”. But what is really the advantage that followers in social media, namely twitter and facebook, can bestow to a company?

A good friend and colleague recently posted on twitter:

Sam Gough on twitter

Social media versus Traditional advertising and communication

So, what’s actually the big difference between advertising on a magazine or a POS (point of sale), or TV for that fact; and a social media network?

  • Social media is about being social, not an one direction communication but a multidirectional dialogue.
    Traditional media allows an one way, wide area non-targeted messaging
  • Social media is about personal opinion and recommendation not statements.
    Traditional media allow companies to make strong statements
  • Social media allow brands to leverage message virality to propagate their offer,
    Traditional media uses mostly the quantity of the receiving audience by catering to a massively larger market

So the clear advantage of social media seems to be that a message is more targeted, it’s multidirectional and can “go viral”, which means that you will never be able to talk to the same number of people you do using Traditional media and that if you want to attain that very specialised following you must have a very concise and clear message, not to mention that dialogue – almost always – requires more resources and time than a statement approach.

The delusion of followers and fan-base

Social media champions (yes this is actually a job description now days) will argue that most of the followers of a brand are actually fans that they would sell their liver for the brand they are following. Well I don’t believe that this is quite as simple as that. There are tens of ways that a brand can gain following. A good example would be a competition which almost in a form of extortion a brand will request you to like their page or follow them on twitter. The truth is that this actually works, very well.

In many ways this is no different than traditional advertising. Effectively you subscribe people to your newsletter. With no specific drive or commitment no matter how many followers you might have the “opening rate” of the brand’s newsletter will go down exponentially as more people join that pool. It’s like using a monkey to do a donkey’s job.

The power of true interaction

As mentioned above the big mistake that brands seem to do is that they approach social media as they would traditional media. Twitter and facebook was designed to promote discussions. Brands that did that (see Dell and their tech support over twitter example) have actually managed to create an exceptional “fan” base. They might now have 3 million users on their twitter account, but anyone who interacted with them (including me) knows that these are real people that want to help out and that they will actually apologise and try to help you. It is this personal interaction that makes them successful. This reinforces the brand and works along the traditional media marketing of the company to create a concise, clean and human approach.

Creating a tribe

Borrowing by Seth Godin’s brilliant work on Tribes, I cannot stress more how important it is to focus your following and talk to them. Making 10 people love what you are doing is not even comparable to having 10,000 “grabbed” followers. The reason behind this is really simple. These 10 people, if they love what you do they will talk about the brand to their friends with passion; which, effectively, means that they are doing the hard work for you (remember what I said above regarding the time that it takes?). Additionally, research has shown that recommendation from peers always carry a much heavier weight from any statement made by a brand. Practically those 10 voices will be heard louder and clearer, a fact, that means that the chances of converting other people to their passion is significantly higher than those 10,000 who will follow you and never think of your brand again.

In conclusion

I believe that followers can actually be extremely beneficial, but the way the marketeer approaches their procurement should aim towards creating well targeted, passionate about what the brand does individuals, of course the more famous and eloquent these people are, the better. There is a point to be made regarding the amount of followers and that it can be beneficial (as a long newsletter list would be), large numbers can still generate traction but this can also be done by using traditional media. Also, we have to consider that A-male prototype which dictates that the more following you have the higher the possibility to convert a new follower.

Do you believe that the quantity of followers on a twitter account makes it better?

How TicTrac and FitBit got me to rethink how I treat myself

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 21.16.19It’s said that any private or social interaction takes about 20 days of engagement to become a habit. Well, I am now on the 30th day of using TicTrac and the twentieth of using my FitBit and I can, without a doubt, declare that I am utterly hooked.

But let me tell you a story about how all of this started. For the last two years or so I have been  trying to lose weight and reach my “unicorn” of 82kgs. During this time not only have I failed to loose my kilos, but certain periods of depression or excessive carefree happiness have edged me closer to the dreaded beast of the 95kgs.

I was completely disenchanted and ready to give up when I talked to a very good friend of mine who has lately made it her business to make the people around her healthier. She showed me TicTrac and then pushed me to get a gym membership.


Truth been told, in the past I have tried many times the gym membership route and it mostly ended up with me paying a yearly membership and only going there for the first month or so which, quite honestly, sucked.

What changed this time? Well, this is the first time I can actually track my progress day by day. TicTrack allowed me to review the progress of my efforts and gave me insights I never had before, amongst other things what affects my diet, my mood and my excitement levels (along with a variety other aspects like when and for how long you had intercourse – hee hee!). Watching my weight go up or down based on accurate stats of my activity and daily mood showed me the right path quite organically.

TicTrac weight stats

At this point, the only problem was that at the end of every day I had to spend about 20 minutes inputting all my details in order to make my stats accurate. This wasn’t the best of experiences; mind you, the UX of TicTrac is amazing, it’s just that it takes time to add everything.

So what to do? Well, you have to get someone do all the hard number-counting and number-crunching for you. In my case, this is called FitBit.

FitBit (more specifically FitBit One) is a cool, tiny gadget that you attach to your trouser pocket or belt buckle, or even (ladies) your bra, which counts how many steps you’ve made, how many calories you’ve burnt and how active you are. In addition, FitBit One also checks your sleeping patterns by checking how many hours you slept and how many times you woke up in your sleep, showing you the quality of your sleep. It’s quite cool and it’s a nifty little gadget (I love gadgets ask my girlfriend, she knows!).

Why together? Oh, by far the coolest part about TicTrac is that it’s actually built as a data aggregator, which means that FitBit and tens of other social networks, gadgets, wifi scales etc. feed data into it … automatically! This meant that instantly my 20 minute data entry became 5 minutes of adding what FitBit couldn’t know about, like the fact that I swam my ass off (yes, I am now able to swim about 1.2km in 30 minutes, which I find quite an achievement). You see, FitBit is not water-proof, although it is sweat- and water-resistant, and even if it were, how the hell would it count distance swam?!


To recap, in less than a month I have managed to go from 94kg to 91kg and am still going down by exercising 2 to 3 times a week at the gym, cutting out sweets and be a bit more mindful of what I eat. I could have pushed even harder, but why do so? I feel much more energetic and happier with myself. I thought that going to the gym would take away from my free time but it actually added to it, since now I stay awake more than before. As a bonus, I have managed to evade a cold 3 times in this period despite the god-forsaken British March weather.

In my book that translates as AWESOME; you should try it as well! Go get a TicTrac account (it’s not like you have to pay for it) and maybe think of investing in a gadget like FitBit One or something similar; there’s plenty of choice out there.

Let me know how it goes and do tell me what you think in the comments below!

Samsung announces Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung just announce it’s latest addition GS4 a phone that Android can really be proud of. With a 5 inch 1080p 441ppi screen (using as always Amoled technology) and a mind blowing 1.9 quadcore processor powered by 2GB or RAM this phone can actually claim that IS better by many laptops out in the market right now.

As expected the new camera is a whooping 13megapixels wonder that gets an even more enhanced experience by the new software featured added that allow you to add voice to photos and take short, gif like animations.

A S4 introduces a bunch of new technologies like eye tracking for videos, image recognition for text and imagery, screen proximity events and excellent connectivity with S4 and Samsung devices.

Finally the design got a bit streamlined and became “premium”, but it still made of plastic, almost a hybrid between S3 and Note with the addition of polycarbonate chassis which protects the corners of the device. I actually quite like the fact since my S3 looks like it passed through a warzone after 6 months of use.

The phone will be going into stores at some point within the second quarter of 2013, and do note that the already overpowered CPU will be double as strong as the American version (see above) for Europe. Yes, we are getting an 8 core CPU, just because we are cooler.


Andreas Franke’s Stavronikita Project in Barbados

Andreas draw my eye earlier this year with his Vandenberg underwater exhibition. Vandenberg was really an excellent idea although some of the photo-manipulations presented were not as carefully made as I would expect for someone with his stunning portfolio.

His new exhibition ‘the life above refined below‘  (part of “The Sinking world”) is now underwater and waiting for people to visit in the wreckage of SS Stavronikita at Barbados.

The SS Stavronikita lies at the bottom of the ocean at 13.8 N, 59.38 W, right off the Caribbean island of Barbados. It is the spot Andreas Franke has discovered and chosen to stage a game full of overflowing decadence and exuberance.

A traveling salesman, the Stavronikita fell victim to a devastating fire over 20 years ago and with no hope for recovery it was lowered into the silent depths to lie there – fossilized into an artificial reef which one thought would sleep for all eternity.

For his new exhibition Andreas has chosen Rococo as his overarching theme which somehow, due to the general colour tones given by the artist looks incredibly beautiful under the filtered underwater light. This time around the feeling you get is of a more seductive and extravagant era of luscious and scenery that reminded me a lot of works like Marie Antoinette (film) which give the Rococo.  a slightly, more modern format.

Those who search for life at its fullest on land will search in vain. They will have to dive to a depth of 24 meters. At 13.8 N, 59.38 W.


TicTrac: Mastering email updates

For those of you that don’t know TicTrac, TicTrac is an awesome tool that keeps your activities in one place and allows you to track them over time. I have started using it about a month and a half ago. In the beginning I thought I wouldn’t be using it much I find myself completely hooked on it (the fact that all my FitBit activity is linked there as well helped a lot).

Almost a week ago I have received my first TicTrac update email, and I must admit I was absolutely stunned by the beauty and the structure of the report.

Simple minimal design focusing in just one of the many aspects of what the website tracks. The webmail utilizes the branding guidelines of the company in a very refined way. It feels like something that came from TicTrac without overdoing it. Overall, excellent UX.

I believe that they struck gold by understanding that in most cases people don’t have time to read long bodies of text. The report keeps copy to a minimum, focusing mostly on nicely designed graphics that convey the idea and are pretty engaging. In addition they have placed their call to action right in the middle of the email, and it is not a stupid reasonless call to action it’s a push to get you to use the thing even more. Kudos.

Tic Trac report

There is a very subtle “social” aspect to it since it allows you to share the repost via facebook and twitter without showing off the needless facebook / twitter logos that you can see now days everywhere, and kind of lost their meaning.

TicTrac is a new kind of service, and as with everything new there is a learning curve. TicTrac decided to end the report with a list of tips of how to use the system more effectively, which I find really smart.

TicTrac Tips

Finally, nothing can be perfect. The share to Facebook and Twitter links seem to be a bit buggy, or badly thought. The twitter post contains only a non-obfuscated AWS/S3 link followed by the url of the website which actually has a space in between which makes it render really badly. My advice would be.

  • Obfuscate the URL
  • Fix the URL to (it’s a shame)
  • Add a bit of a copy to make it more engaging, like “My weekly TicTrac report” or something
  • Add @tictrac at the end of the post
  • Add recommendation to follow TicTrac after posting

My thoughts? I loved it. It made me to engage even more with the website, that much I had to write an article about it. If you don’t have a TicTrac account and you do have a life goal, like becoming healthier, tracking or loosing weight, or you are just a statistics buff, go get an account and tell me what you thing about it.