Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category:

Chinese Government Unveils Walking Lanes To Deal With ‘Phone Addicts’

The Chinese government has a reputation for brutal efficiency and a questionable record of human rights. They are known throughout the western world for censoring the large chunks of the internet from their citizens. That’s why it comes as such a surprise that the city of Chongqing in China has reportedly set up the country’s first sidewalk for ‘mobile phone addicts’.

It just goes to show, when you make something illegal it becomes far more attractive than it was before it was banned. Just look at drugs. Internet addiction in China is now deemed such a ‘serious problem’ that China is estimated to have some 300 internet addiction centres spread across the nation aimed at dealing with a generation of mobile phone users who just can’t switch off.

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China’s New Phone Walkways

With hundreds of thousand of young Chinese people hooked to their phones the government has rolled out ‘treatment camps’ to squash what it sees as a plague of economically inactive young people. The government is currently investigating the death of a teenager who was allegedly beaten to death in a camp designed to treat Internet addiction, state media said last month. Fifteen year old Deng Senshan died less than a day after his parents sent him to the camp in southern Guangxi province.

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Happy Chinese Phone Users

This problem is, of course, not limited to the region. We all know that feeling, perhaps you forgot your phone and had to idly twiddle you fingers for the entire journey to work. Perhaps you actively chose not to but a mobile contract. Either way, you’ll soon find yourself with an unshakable urge to be plugged in just like everyone else.

Remember, it could be a lot worse. You could live in China…

Anti-internet Camp China

Anti-internet Camp China

Anti-internet Camp China

Anti-internet Camp China

China Web Junkies: The New York Times

A short documentary made last year about the Chinese boot-camp-style treatment center for young men who are deemed to be “addicted” to the Internet.

Why Cycling Through London Can Lead To An Early Grave

BBC News published an article today reflecting upon a recent study which suggests walking or cycling to work, as opposed to driving, can positively increase ones mood and subsequently improve wellbeing.

According to the study, conducted at the University of East Anglia (UEA): active commuters felt better able to concentrate and under less strain than their motorist counterparts – suggesting that even travelling by (historically ridiculed) public transport was preferable to driving.

Narrow window. Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Unfair advantage. Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Carried out at UEA’s Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York, the study considered nearly 18,000 adult commuters from across the UK. Of this group 73% said they went to work by car, 13% walked and 3% cycled to work while about 11% used public transport on their commute.

The study took into account feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness, sleepless nights, and being unable to face problems, establishing that those who had an active commute are found to compose a higher level of wellbeing than those who travelled by car or public transport.

Substantial evidence…it would seem, although being from London and commuting through south, central and east London by bicycle I understand, quite emotively, the obstacles which can cause distress.

Tower Bridge. Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Tower Bridge, London. Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Although the morning cycle offers a mild breath of fresh air, economic benefits and debatable health advantages, it also carries with it a breadth of stress, induced by danger: careless cab drivers; reckless bus routes and rage-fuelled pedestrians.

“It is stressful stuck behind a cyclist because they believe sitting in the middle of the road is safest. Take cyclists out of the equation and the drive to work becomes one of peace and serenity before a hectic day.” – One user comments on the article.

Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Stay Back! Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

There is an evident level of animosity towards cyclists, which is often untoward, unjustifiable and one I strongly believe stems from a Jeremy Clarkson ‘cars rule everything around me’ culture.

On most days cycling to work I encounter at least one malicious motorist, spend half my journey trapped between two buses or being terrorised by articulated lorries – who insist on either pulling out in front of me, cutting me up, preventing any efforts of mine to overtake (or even all three), all while tarnishing a decal which reads “Cyclists Stay Back!’. Its tarmac bullying at its worse.

I’m not sure of road etiquette elsewhere in the country and welcome answers on a postcard, but it seems (and I’m not alone in these concerns) that cyclists deserve a bit more respect.

More and more people are jumping on the bike game, some do so to counteract extortionate transport costs, which is completely understandable considering our current economic climate. The perils of cycling amidst poor road surfaces, grids and pot holes however, can lead to your death. So this is a message to possessive motorists: Please be considerate! A cyclist’s life isn’t worth avoiding a work disciplinary.

Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Shoreditch, London. Photo credit: Matthew Kirby

Read More >>> ‘Bicycle’ A Cinematic Celebration Of British Cycling History

Will New Male Contraception ‘Vasalgel’ Cause A Sexual Revolution?

Let’s face it, condoms aren’t the future. They’re uncomfortable, expensive, made from non-renewable materials and deeply awkward to acquire. Not to mention potentially fatal for the 0.8% of the population unfortunate enough to be allergic to latex.

It’s actually striking how little we’ve done to advance a birth control that is safe and effect for use by men. After all, the female body is so much more complicated hormonally that answering the birth control question for men should be much simpler. Or at least you’d think, but the question of how to stop millions of microscopic sperm without doing permanent damage to the testicles continues to stump a lot of scientists today.

condom-pic-1_2790324bWhen in 2013, for the first time in recorded history, two Australian scientists were able to temporarily make a batch of male mice infertile, the reaction of the global media was primarily one of confusion. What would this men for male humans? Could it be possible to create a male birth control pill? And would this change the way we think about issues like sexuality and gender equality?

Unfortunately, although the clinical trials on the mice were successful, it was announced that the resultant drug would take a decade or so to be tested, approved and produced. For at least the foreseeable future it seemed we would be stuck with the status quo – a system in which only 50% of people are free to chemically determine their own fertility. That is, until now!

Vasalgel is a long-acting, non-hormonal contraceptive similar to the procedure of a vasectomy but with one significant advantage: it’s completely reversible. Research into this method of birth control has been so effective that experts predict men could be using this long-lasting method – which doesn’t involve condoms or traumatic surgery – within the next two or three years. A spokesperson from the Parsemus Foundation, the creators of the drug, has been quoted as saying:

‘We want to get Vasalgel on the market as soon as possible, but all the proper efficacy and safety testing needs to be completed. Vasalgel is currently in animal testing, with human trials expected to start in early 2015 and 2015-2016 (larger trials). If everything goes well and with enough public support, we hope to get Vasalgel on the market in 2016-2017.’

Time For Men To Take Responsibility

Much like at the advent of the female birth control in the 1960s, it would be pretty naive to assume that this technology wont drastically change the way we interact socially, emotionally and sexually. When women were liberated from the shackles of oppressive “traditional values” the pill and all the ideals of independence and freedom that went with it, were finally born.

For a great number of men today this means freedom of a similar nature. Freedom from women using children to trap them in marriages. Freedom to choose how many kids they want to father without resorting to the barbaric measure of taking a scalpel to their balls. The most reputable survey on this topic, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, reveals that 66% of men would be willing to take male birth control pills. Meanwhile, 43% were on board with taking the Vasalgel shot, whereas just 36% were open to getting injected with other implants.

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The immense level of freedom this could also bring to women should not be underestimated. Isn’t it about time that men took some share of responsibility for their own semen? Who knows, if the pharmaceutical industry wasn’t almost exclusively run by men then perhaps we would have seen many more drugs like Vasalgel invented far sooner?

It’s logical to assume that some women would be cynical as to whether modern guys will be able to commit to taking a oral contraceptive regularly. But the best thing about Vasalgel is that it is a one-time painless procedure, much like having an implant, but which doesn’t mess with your testosterone levels and doesn’t leave you with any gnarly scars.

From an incredibly young age girls are taught, through society, their parents and by popular culture that it’s up to them to protect themselves from accidental or unwanted pregnancy, either by taking the pill or, more recently, by having an implant fitted. This unwavering message to girls is something which hasn’t been as rigorously instilled in boys. Hopefully, thanks new methods of contraception like to Vasalgel, this can finally change.

Virtual Travel: Could Google Street View Kill The Tourism Industry?

Google Maps now own the rights to almost every attraction on planet earth: inside 17 international museums, including the Tate Gallery, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City; the Uffizi Florence, atop the ominous Area 51 in Nevada and even back in time to the Eiffel tower circa 2008.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

While this may be great news for anyone suffering Agoraphobia, tourism, currently the worlds largest industry, slowly diminishes at the hands of self-driven Google cars and dudes in backpacks.

It was announced earlier this week (September 10) that Google Maps would launch their ‘Ancient Egypt’ venture – offering users the unique opportunity to take a virtual tour through the Pyramids of Giza, the Giza Necropolis and the Great Sphinx. In wake of this news, we thought we’d attempt to visit the seven wonders of the world via Google Street View to see if virtual travelling held the same visceral connotations as the real thing.

Stonehenge, England

Our first stop was Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. Archeologists discovered this week that Stonehenge actually composed some 17 previously unknown wooden or stone structures alongside dozens of burial mounds dating back 6000 years. Which is probably why the areas heavily guarded by security.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge, England

The Colosseum, Italy

A few clicks east we saw the Colosseum, an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Once used as a grand battle arena, the structure now stands limp with heavy signs of decay. Although we can explore the inside of the Colosseum via Google Street View, we’re still unable to breach any of the mesh barriers.

The Colosseum, Italy

The Colosseum, Italy

The Taj Mahal, India

Our next stop: the Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Completed in 1648 the structure was constructed by Mughalemperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. A popular destination, this spot is teaming with tourists. Some of them don’t seem to appreciate Google’s cameras.

The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, India

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China stretches from Shanhaiguan in the very east of China, to Lop Lake in the west and along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. Much like taking a trip to the Great Wall yourself, its pretty difficult to explore the whole wall and some parts of it are actually broken or decaying. Its faint, but this is the most wall we can show you.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Christ The Redeemer, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer is a 635 tonne Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ situated at the peak of the 2,300 ft Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its been a popular spot for many Hollywood movies, which is why thousands of people flock here every year with portable, handheld cameras.

Christ The Redeemer, Brazil

Christ The Redeemer, Brazil

Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

Considered one of the oldest ‘Wonders’, the Great Sphinx of Giza, a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx (a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head) sits amidst the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. Frequently teaming with wealthy westerners, children, chaperoned by their parents, tout outside the attraction.

The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

So it turns out you can explore the seven wonders of the world via Google Street View and it can be surprisingly visceral. Most of the places we visited, we had to queue for a glimpse of the attraction; ran into security guards who stopped us horsing around; stopped by bracelet-wielding hawkers and got uncomfortable close to other tourists.

The only thing missing from our adventure where some telling tales of foreign lands, a smoke-screen suntan and a nasty case of Delhi belly, aka traveler’s diarrhoea. Cheers.

Read More >>> Mario Santamaria Documents Google’s Most Embarrassing Moments

Modscape Architecture Project ‘The Cliff House’ Defies Gravity & Belief

The term ‘Modular Architecture‘ refers to the design of any structure made up of separate components that can be connected together or quickly deconstructed.

The beauty of modular architecture is that you can replace, add or remove any single component piece (or module) without affecting or destroying the rest of the structure.

This is the total opposite of the usual integrated architecture we are used to, in which no clear divisions exist between separate components. Arguably integrated architecture is more stable, but often nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing.

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The Modscape Cliff House Project

Perched atop a cliff face on the south-west coast of Victoria, Australia will hang one of the best examples of modular architecture in the world. The recently built home, named ‘The Cliff House Project‘ was visualised as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape and therefore offers an “absolute connection with the ocean.”

Inspired by the way barnacles cling to the hull of ships and replete with minimalistic furnishings as well as a transcendent view of the ocean the house is completely unique. The firm who designed it, Modscape, achieve this by using engineered steel pins to anchor the five-storey building into the cliff face.

The concept house looks beautiful hanging off the side of the cliff, but it does make us wonder… What about erosion?

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Interior #1

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Interior #2

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Blueprints – The Cliff House Project

Why Starbucks Always Spells Your Name Wrong

Comedian Paul Gale has made a video answering one of the most burning questions of the noughties – Why does Starbucks always spell your name wrong?

Hi, my name is Clémence. It’s a pretty common name in France, though when I’m saying it to an English speaking person, I can sense the distress in their eyes. My flatmate of 5 months still spells it “Clemance” and most of my friends in the UK just stick to Clemmie or Clem. Combined with the fact that – according to my mom – I speak too fast when trying to articulate myself, when I go to Starbucks, it goes something like this:

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From Left to Right: CLEMANTS, CLEMONS & CAMON.

I found it funny at first and I felt super exotic for a minute. But now, thanks to Paul Gale‘s video I know. It was just a genuine attempt to ruin my day. Thanks Starbucks’ baristas.

Sincerely yours,

Clemons.

Paul Gale – Why Starbucks Spells Your Name Wrong

Al Boardman: An Animated Guide To London Tourism As Per 535 Students

Creative British designer Al Boardman teams up with Kaplan International to create an animated tour of London – highlighting eight great things to do in the British capital.

8 Great Things to do in London by Al Boardman

Following on from the success of the ‘8 Great Things to do in NYC video, Kaplan International pioneer another video – but this time in London. Thousands of students from around the world attend their schools in Covent Garden and Leicester Square every year.

After asking 535 of their London students to describe their dream day in the capital, Kaplan commissioned Al Boardman to illustrate, animate and produce this incredible short video from their responses.

The video vibrantly illustrates some of London’s iconic landmarks: Big Ben, The Shard, London’s Underground Network, Hyde Park and more. Some of the monuments penultimately go on to comprise the structure of a typeface which simply reads ‘London’. At the end of the video we’re asked “Do you agree?” with this hypothetical day plan. Our answer: It might cost you a bank loan, but it seems like a pretty decent day out.

Music is provided by Ray Davies. Watch the video below.

8 Great Things to do in London from Al Boardman on Vimeo.

Video: Drone Reveals Apple’s ‘Spaceship’ Campus Construction Process

Apple are set to reveal its latest selection of products at their keynote announcement next Tuesday, September 9 and talk of the iPhone 6 and iWatch have already gained a technological monopoly online.

Ahead of their keynote announcement however, one YouTube user has captured aerial footage of the new Apple Spaceship Campus – expected for completion in 2016.

Apple Campus 2, 19111 Pruneridge Avenue Cupertino, CA 95014

Apple Campus 2, 19111 Pruneridge Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014

Shot with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition and mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 drone, the pilot navigates the construction sites perimeter, offering a full 360-degree view directly atop the site for a full view of the construction process. At the moment, the structure seems like the skeleton of an evil underground lair.

In an effort to remain within lawful guidelines, the uploader states in the videos description “The quad copter remained under 400 feet as per FAA regulation for remote controlled airplanes and helicopters and not within any airport no-fly zones.” Watch the video below.

Apple ‘Spaceship’ Campus 2 started as a concept back in 2006 after the late Steve Jobs announced to the city council of Cupertino that Apple had acquired nine contiguous properties to build a second campus. In 2011, Jobs presented Cupertino City Council details of the architectural design of the new buildings and their environs.

The campus, on a site totalling 175 acres (0.71 km2), is planned to house up to 13,000 employees in one central four-storied circular building of approximately 2,800,000 square feet (260,000 m2), which will include a café for 3,000 sitting people, surrounded by extensive landscaping, and offer parking amidst an underground parking structure.

Other facilities include a 1,000 seat auditorium, 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) of R&D facilities, a fitness center, an orchard, and a dedicated generating plant as the primary source of electricity (powered by natural gas and other more environmentally sound means).

Apple Campus 2, 19111 Pruneridge Avenue Cupertino, CA 95014

Apple Campus 2, 19111 Pruneridge Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014

Read More >>> Steve Jobs, Designer: Apple’s Embarrassing Foray Into 80s Fashion

The End Of An Era, Say Goodbye To MSN Messenger

After 15 years of quality service and countless happy users Microsoft has finally decided to declare a surrender against the hordes of other chat applications that have driven its once famous MSN messenger into the ground.

Between Skype, Viber, Facebook Chat, WhatsApp and Snapchat its hard to see how Microsoft’s own instant messaging communication platform survived for so long. Until you remember what made it so great in the first place. No more signing off just to attract the attention of your current crush. No more loud and irritable pinging sounds.

Still, MSN, you will be missed.

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Introduced back in 1999 as a potential competitor for AOL’s AIM service, by 2009 it had racked up an impressive 330 million active users. But reports suggest that the messengers US audience was falling rapidly. 8.3 million unique users were logged that year representing a huge 48% drop from the year before – a big reason to stop the service completely.

Users in China were the last to see MSN go with customers being seamlessly switched over to Skype during the past few weeks.

Messenger Reviver 2

Some fans and long time users are remaining loyal to the very end, having found ways to keep the messenger alive without resorting to the forced Skype download.

Messenger Reviver 2 is a patch that allows you to keep using Windows Live Messenger. We tested it today, and we are pleased to say it works! Now all you have to do is find someone to chat on it with.

Messenger Reviver 2 automatically installs, repairs and/or modifies Windows Live Messenger 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008 as well as Windows Messenger to continue signing in despite being blocked by Microsoft.

Long live, Skype!

MindQuest: Microsoft’s Obscene 2008 Recruitment Videos

It’s early 2008 and with the invention of the iPod Bill Gates has just realised that he may not have a complete monopoly on the electronics and computer markets after all. His plan? To realise a slew of strange adverts and an aggressive televised marketing campaign in the hopes of attracting a new generation of inventors and entrepreneurs into Microsoft’s already booming ranks.

The ads, most of which are set in the future year of 2035, depict a futuristic acid trip of a recruiter offering geniuses an opportunity to embark on a “Mind Quest”. In other words, a virtual tour of all the perks and benefits that working for a tech giant like Microsoft can get you. Similar to the famous ‘Wake up, Neo!‘ scene from The Matrix the adverts are clearly targeted at computer savvy silicon valley types.

Ben Abrahams, director of the project at Microsoft at the time gave the follow statement on the company’s motivations for the ads:

“We were asked to help recruit up-and-coming ace computer programmers before they get snatched up by Google and Facebook. We thought the only way for them to appear fresh would be to do something they never do, poke fun at themselves, specifically in the context of how they are viewed in the computing community. Somehow Microsoft let the concept through. This is the result.”