Ever wanted to know why we have dreams or why ball lightning exists? Well, tough, because no one knows.
While reading Matt Muir’s weekly masterpiece, Imperica, I stumbled across a rather pointless yet fascinating website — Wikenigma. Wikenigma is an ‘encyclopaedia of unknowns’. Essentially, it’s a website that documents all the gaps in human knowledge.
Are you fascinated by etymology and want to know where the word ‘dog’ originates from? Too bad, researchers have no clue. In fact, they cite it as ‘one of the great mysteries of English etymology.’ Interested in the power of free will and whether we actually have it? It turns out, no-one is certain. There are a whole variety of unknowns in Wikenigma that are fascinating to read about, even if you never find out the answer.
So, if you want to find out some more unknowns, check out Wikienigma and educate yourself on the greatest mysteries of mankind.
Web 2.0, with all its interactive scope, has given us a lot of cause for laughter over the years. Many of these laughs have been for online reviews: whilst they might be ‘fake news’, here are some of our favourites:
The number of people worldwide using Spotify reached a staggering 191 million just before Christmas. It’s easy to understand why: the user experience is superb, their catalogue of music is unrivalled and it’s affordable, among other reasons.
However, heavy users will know that one area they haven’t nailed just yet is their ‘Moods’ playlists. That’s not to say the playlists themselves aren’t full of great songs – oh, they are! The problem is that my experience of a mood may be experienced through music in a totally different way to you. When I need an energy boost, I turn to Arctic Monkeys, the Vaccines and, more recently, Sea Girls. Whereas, you may opt for Beyonce, Bowie, Bruce Springstein, or maybe even music so niche or edgy that I don’t know it exists.
Enter Moodify, the website that creates a personalised playlist based on your mood. You simply input your mood on three simple, customisable bars – slow vs dancey, chill vs energetic, and moody vs cheerful – and voila! Seconds later you have a personalised playlist of up to 100 songs to suit how you’re feeling.
Do you have a few seconds to spare to give it a go? Here it is: https://moodify-music.herokuapp.com/
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Confession: back in the early 2000s, I had an obsession with music mash-ups. There was nothing better than hearing two top 40 songs I adored blended into one musical masterpiece, and rinsing that track on repeat for hours, days, or even months if it was a particularly good one.
I still kind of love them, so I was pretty stoked to recently discover Rave DJ. This AI-powered website lets you add in YouTube links or Spotify playlists to create your own mash-ups or entire DJ sets, and is an excellent way to test your mixing skills, create hilarious mash-ups of famous speeches/movie scenes with pop songs (no one else is doing that? Okay, sorry), and all-in-all waste a bit of time.
So, if like me you need your mash-up moment, head to the website and test your skills on the decks. I’m pretty pleased with this Röyksopp and Alice in Wonderland mash-up I made, personally!
Tech wizzes from the University of Tokyo and Keio University have created a robotic system called ‘Fusion’ that gives the wearer an extra head and two arms. It sounds completely wacky and does look a bit peculiar when you see it on a human. Worn like a backpack, the makers have described it as ‘full body surrogacy for collaborative communication.’
The system is operated remotely using a VR headset and controls, with the idea that the operator has the same perspective as the user. The system uses stereo cameras, anthropomorphic arms and hands with motion sensors.
You must watch the video to understand it better:
Weird as it seems, you can instantly understand the types of applications for this technology. As an example for training and corporate learning, a worker can easily and quickly be shown how to assemble an item on a factory floor. Another way the system can be operated is through ‘enforced body guidance’, helping guide the users with hand movement. The developers say that in this mode the system can help people complete tasks they may have difficulty with.
Fusion could be launched in the next three years if it gets enough funding – one to watch.
As a comms person it got me wondering how this could change my working day. It would be mighty handy to be able to simultaneously type up an article, sip my coffee and check my phone for client-related tweets. But then again, I’m not sure my brain could keep up!
With the recent snow and generally chaotic #BeastFromTheEast, it’s safe to say we’ve all gone a bit weather crazy. If you’re like us (or frankly if you live anywhere in Europe), your social media feeds were probably filled with snowy snaps and icy Instagrams as people braved the cold conditions to build snowmen and enjoy the unusual scenes at work (our office even made it into PR Moment!).
Brits famously love speaking about the weather, and noticing this trend, the Met Office has put together #3WordWeather, an interactive map showing the country’s favourite weather words at that moment. It’s split by towns and cities, with the data being drawn from Twitter. Unsurprisingly, at the time of writing this blog, words like ‘cold’ and ‘windy’ reign supreme!
You can get involved in contributing too – just tweet a description of the weather in three words and your nearest town, alongside the hashtag #3wordweather. Just click on your city and the plus sign to see if your tweet makes the cut. So, what’s your forecast?
Christmas Jumper Day is just around the corner – this Friday (15th Dec) to be exact. No doubt, you and your colleagues will be heading into work with weird and wonderful Christmas-inspired jumpers; if you’re not involved, you’ll no doubt spot some jumpers on your commute, and see pictures on Instagram and Facebook too. You can’t escape it!
It’s customary not to take it too seriously and have a bit of fun. But has the Christmas Jumper tradition gone too far this year? Have jumper manufacturers gone a bit Christmas crackers?
It didn’t take us long to unearth some truly puzzling Christmas Jumpers:
What a whirlwind tour of some bizarre corners of the web! On a serious note, whatever jumper you choose, just be sure you’re having fun and you’re supporting Save the Children. Add a cheeky mince pie and some mulled wine and you’ll take the edge off the most eye-watering jumpers.
Do you fancy yourself as a modern-day Mozart? Always wanted to play the piano but never got around to taking lessons? Well, now you can play your favourite instrument from the comfort of your desk.
Dotpiano is an online browser-based visual piano which lets you use your computer keys or a MIDI keyboard as a piano to play and compose songs. While you figure out which letters correspond to notes, colourful dots appear across the screen which you can toggle to create visualisations while you play. For an amateur pianist, this virtual piano is perfect to experiment with and for the more accomplished player, you can try and create a stunning masterpiece. Like this, for example. And if your composition is particularly inspiring, you can share it with your colleagues.
So, if a Steinway is a bit out of your price range, don’t worry. Just open up Dotpiano and you’ll be a pro in no time.
If, like us, you spend the first half hour of the morning reading through news, before keeping an eye on a menagerie of channels throughout the day, watching news channels broadcast on social feeds, reading the latest newsletters and so on, it can get a bit unmanageable.
In the absence of iGoogle (although we often use netvibes) we’re delighted to discover Hvper, one web page including a feed of all the major news outlets from around the world. Featuring reddit, Digg, Buzzfeed, Reuters, CNN, the New York Times and many, many more.
Whilst we have no idea how to pronounce the name of the site, it works well on both desktop and mobile, and although it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing site, it is generally functional and easy to view.
You’ll never be out of the loop again.
Building chatbots is all the rage, but if you don’t have the time to learn code, there’s now a bot that will develop your bot for you! Check out BotBot if this takes your fancy: Simply select your template from answer bot, food bot, fitness bot, delivery tracking bot or shopping bot, and the bot will integrate with other common services, such as fitness class booking systems or food delivery services and automate the process.
At the moment, there are only five templates, but we’re certain that more will be added before too long. And of course, it can’t be long before there’s another service that creates bot-creating services like this on demand so that you can offer even more complex and recursive services…
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