Justin Lyons’ Misguided Cash-in
Mar 19, 2014

If you’re unfamiliar with who ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin was and what he was all about, watch the above tribute video melodysheep made a few months back. He was an awesomely passionate conservationist and a very memorable figure from my childhood.

Justin Lyons, Irwin’s trusted cameraman, was in the water with him when a stingray attacked and tragically killed Steve in 2006. Last week Lyons appeared on the Australian morning talk show Studio 10 for an interview, and he revealed a few new details about the event that the media got wrong back then. According to him, the stingray’s barb wasn’t left behind in Steve’s heart and Steve didn’t pull it out – it simple made a 2″ gash in his chest. He also says that Steve knew the barb had at least pierced his lung, that his last words were, “I’m dying,” and that the crew kept filming even as they performed CPR – suspending disbelief and hoping that Steve would pull through.

Lyons also said that the stingray started “stabbing” upward “hundreds of times in a few seconds.” Perfect headline fodder for the media, but in reality Australians use the word “hundreds” like Americans use the word “tons”; Lyons really meant “a bunch” or a few strikes/second. Like this.

Now, I don’t want to completely vilify Lyons here. He clearly cared a lot about Steve and was a dedicated member of the tight-knit crew for 15 years, but the timing of this interview and his intentional release of new information is pretty darn slimy. It’s kinda sad, actually.

Around the three minute mark of Part 2 (after a commercial break), the conversation about Steve Irwin transitions to Lyons’ emotions after his death and how he coped with them. This is where the plug comes in. I don’t really feel like embedding it, but for your convenience, here it is:

Lyons has a new documentary out called E-Motions (which I won’t bother to link to) that covers what looks like something very close to pseudoscience to me. In the interview, he starts talking about negative emotions being trapped and “physically lodged” in the body and how the documentary has “simple techniques” that will help you remove them. Apparently they did a bunch of interviews with doctors and researchers and even quantum physicists (?), and the methods they describe have even cured cancer in some particular cases (again, ?). Psychosomatic symptoms are a real thing, but leaping from the psyche to cancer is a bit too preliminary a finding to start advertising.

Regardless of his film’s validity, doing this promotional interview has severed some ties with the Irwin family, as you can imagine. Bob Irwin (Steve’s Dad) responded to a request for comment by saying that Lyons should’ve minded his own business and didn’t have the right to reveal more than what the Irwin family was willing to say. Bob didn’t comment specifically on Lyons using Irwin’s death as a way of promoting his own documentary, but I can imagine how he feels.

The interview worked, but thankfully not in the way Lyons probably hoped. The media grabbed onto the perfect “Steve Irwin stabbed hundreds of times” headline and ran with it, and that’s what everyone read in the news last week. More than 260 online ‘journalists’ covered the interview, but the majority of them only embedded the first part and not the second. The result: 1.3 million views for Part 1, and just 83,000 for Part 2 at the time of this writing. The E-Motion trailer embedded on the home page of the site only has 22,000 views, and their official Twitter account has just 34 followers. Sales of the documentary were probably boosted by this publicity stunt – but this doesn’t seem to be a financial windfall for Lyons.

I’m glad.

Again, all I know about Lyons is that Steve Irwin trusted him greatly for 15+ years as a crew member, but that doesn’t excuse him from doing this interview against the wishes of Irwin’s family. I don’t know why the Irwin family released so few details about the way Steve died and left the public to speculate incorrectly, but it wasn’t at all Justin Lyons’ prerogative to reveal the truth. He seems like a nice guy, which is why I have a hard time understanding why he’d consciously do a “world exclusive” interview about how a deceased friend died in order to promote a personal project. I realize that the emotions he felt after Steve’s death may have led him to explore psychosomatic symptoms and lead him to make this documentary, but that still doesn’t excuse him from revealing the details of Steve’s death that he did.

Is money really so powerful? Can it really warp someone’s thought process in such a way that this becomes a logical move? It’s unlikely that Lyons would’ve been on Studio 10 if he were only willing to say on-air that he experienced emotional trauma after Steve’s death which led him to make the documentary; both Lyons and the producers knew that this interview (or at least the first half of it) needed to be worthy of international news coverage. It needed to be “exclusive” or else it wasn’t worth doing.

Relatedly, why does the media so readily echo this kind of new information without asking why it’s being revealed 8 years later (and not even timed with Irwin’s birthday or death)? According to Google News, only 26 other online sources have bothered to mention how Bob Irwin feels about all of this (again, 260+ covered the interview itself) which I would say is the more important story here.

Justin Lyons, despite being the nice guy and good friend of Steve that he is, has made a mistake here (giving him benefit of the doubt). If Studio 10 told him that he wouldn’t be put on the air without revealing details of Steve Irwin’s death, he should have said no and respected the Irwin family’s wishes. That would have been the right thing to do, money be darned.

On a happier note, seeing this story reminded me to look up how Irwin’s family has been doing recently. Based on the video below, I’d say pretty awesome. Steve’s enthusiasm and charm is clearly present in his two kids, Bindi and Robert, and his wife Terri is still running the Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland.

Good on them.

“5-Hour Energy is Focus” Ad
Feb 19, 2014
Fun · Rant · Video

I’ve heard the audio version of this ad probably close to 100 times on Spotify, and I’m still dumbfounded by it.

What does this mean?

How to beat Flappy Bird
Feb 8, 2014

If this technique doesn’t work, try focusing your vision 1/2 inch in front of the bird rather than directly at the bird itself. I also tend to get farther when I think about something entirely different and don’t concentrate too much.

Also, despite making 50k/day, the game’s developer Dong Nguyen says that he’s taking the game down tomorrow because people are over-playing it. We’ll see how that goes.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere at CES 2014
Jan 12, 2014
Link · News · Tech · Video

Really fun to watch him rip into the competition. The honesty is really refreshing.

I wish someone like this was poking and prodding the cable industry. He may be off-putting, but so are the competitors he’s constantly making fun of.

He also reminds me of Randall Boggs from Monsters Inc. Not sure why.

“You had me at scrolling”
Jan 12, 2014

The original iPhone was first shown to the public on January 9th, 2007.

That was 7 years ago. Wow.

Listen to the crowd as Steve Jobs demonstrated swipe-to-unlock, pinch-to-zoom, visual voicemail, scrolling, double-tapping, and all the basic smartphone features and interactions that we take for granted today. The presentation was carefully planned to avoid the surfacing of bugs and crashes, and it went flawlessly.

“I got an iPad!”
Jan 9, 2014

Awesome. Via Reddit:

For some background on this video and my uncle – Henry is hearing & speech impaired. He has a heart of gold and everyone who meets Henry absolutely loves him. Henry is also a kid at heart and loves hot wheels, cars, and especially games on his iPhone. Because we appreciate Henry so much and wanted to show him how much he is loved, we all pitched in and got Henry the ultimate gift (as you can see, he was quite happy). That moment was pure joy and excitement. Henry is probably playing games on his new iPad right now :)

Many years ago, before the iPhone, my family all pitched in to buy my grandpa an iPod for Christmas. I’ll never forget the moment he realized what was in the box.

It’s always 10:10 in watch ads
Dec 8, 2013
Design · Fun · Link · Tech · Video

Good observation by Brady Haran.

Rationalizing it:

  • Neither hand should be pointing downward (because down is just a bad thing psychologically)
  • The longer minute hand should be on the right (again, just psychological, it’s like we’re reading the watch’s face)
  • The hands should be mostly symmetrical to look clean
  • The hands should be readily discernible, which means they can’t be in a line (9:15 is out)
  • The hands should frame rather than cramp the logo near the top of the watch face (11:05 is out)
  • The thin and less important second hand can go wherever, so long as it doesn’t overlap one of the other hands (below 6 and 9 is common because it slightly balances out the long minute hand and doesn’t further crowd the top half of the watch face)

And that leaves 10:10, or somewhere thereabouts. Neat.

MOGA Ace Power iOS Controller
Nov 23, 2013
Design · Future · Gaming · Link · Rant · Tech · Video

Haven’t tried it, but it looks like a dud. The A/B/X/Y buttons click too much, there’s no headphone jack, the plastic quality isn’t great, it costs $100, and it isn’t going to attract enough developer attention to make adding gamepad support standard practice. It also has a reset switch, for whatever reason.

Not entirely related, but interesting to hear at 4:27:

You can play over AirPlay via mirroring, but the problem with that is the tiny, tiny lag between the controller and your iPod Touch and then all that getting blasted up into AirPlay and then down to your Apple TV and back to your TV, adds enough latency that it becomes pretty noticeable, especially in games where any kind of precision is valued.

The current implementation of AirPlay is fine for showing photos and videos to your family and occasionally mirroring your screen, but it isn’t good enough for gaming – when response time becomes extremely important.

AirPlay Direct, the thing I’ve been waiting for Apple to announce for over a year now, would be the solution to this problem. Both the Wii U GamePad and Xbox One controller utilize their own variations of WiFi Direct technology to offer extremely quick input with minimal lag, fast data throughput, and in the GamePad’s case, full display mirroring over the air. Bluetooth 4.0 would also work and be more power efficient (the PS4′s controller actually uses Bluetooth 2.1) but wouldn’t be appropriate for multi-screen interactions, which is what Apple would probably want. Xbox’s SmartGlass app uses WiFi Direct (when available) for this reason.

At this point my best guess is that AirPlay Direct will launch whenever Apple’s TV does. It would be useful for the many reasons I’ve mentioned previously, but the most obvious benefits are all TV and media-related. Here’s to late 2014

How Sapphire Glass is made
Nov 23, 2013
Future · Link · News · Tech · Video

Looks like this will become a thing in the near future. I wonder what Gorilla Glass will do next – it seems that they’ve been outclassed.

Google+ auto-awesome’d my first few weeks in college
Nov 14, 2013

As I was setting up my newly-repaired Nexus 7 today, Google+ informed me that it had gone ahead and made an Auto Awesome video compilation of some photos and video clips I took during my first few weeks in college. The result was too magical for me not to share.

The perfectly-timed drumming, the bull-riding, the seizure-inducing light show, the dramatic reappearance of the bull rider, the drunken first-person view of the laser party – all of it is gold, and probably funny only to me.

Thanks for the memories Google+.

Note: Please pardon the quality. All of this was taken on a 5 MP iPhone 4 camera back in 2011 which was only capable of 720p. Google also stabilized portions of the video (which explains the psychedelic waves) and it’s all compressed as well. Not the best video ever, but certainly the best one I’ve (kinda-sorta) made.

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