29th January 2015
Doing for spies what Kick-Ass did for superheroes, Kingsman is crass, violent, and thoroughly irreverent - it's also the most fun that's been had in cinemas this year (all right, the last three weeks). And it's very welcome, too. While Hollywood is busy congratulating its own worthiness during Oscar season - 'tis the season to be poncey, after all - Kingsman has the British brass to put Mr Darcy at the centre of the best massacre to ever take place in a church.
At its most basic level, there's nothing remarkable about Kingsman - it's the type of straight-up underdog story that we've seen dozens of times. 'Eggsy' (Taron Egerton) is a rough and ready council estate yoot, recruited into an ultra-posh, high-tech brotherhood of spies by Harry Hart AKA 'Galahad' (Colin Firth). But can Eggsy apply his street smarts, learn the ways of a true gentleman spy, and save the world from lisping billionaire megalomaniac Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson)?
Comparisons to Kick-Ass are inevitable. Not only is it based on a Mark Millar comic, but it also comes from the same directing and screenwriting team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. And the duo's mucky, self-aware fingerprints are all over it: razor sharp wit, plenty of profane, blood-soaked naughtiness and fanboy ballbag-tickling humour (see Firth and Jackson's verbal sparring about old-school espionage movies over a Big Mac and chips).
While distinctive, these are essentially little more than trimmings to the standard genre beats. What really sets Vaughn and Goldman's best work apart from the usual popcorn action fare is their characters. And from top to bottom, Kingsman's cast is never less than entertaining - for the most part, they're also surprisingly heartwarming, considering they're such violent potty-mouths. The performances are obviously a big factor: Egerton's charming performance makes Eggsy the first non-repellent urban white-boy in cinema history, while Colin Firth turns into an actual badass.
There will be smarter, more challenging films in cinemas this year. And with Bond 24 due in November, this is unlikely to be 2015's most significant spy adventure. But few films will be as happy to smash a pint glass in the face of
adversity, have a ruddy good fight armed with only an umbrella, and enjoy themselves this much - especially without the weight of expectation big-hitters such as Avengers 2 and Star Wars will carry. Of course, that might change once the inevitable Kingsman 2 comes round. And there has to be a sequel. Kingsman is too much of class act not to leave you wanting more.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is in cinemas now
27th January 2015
The Indian Ocean is the youngest, warmest and smallest of the major oceans covering 20% of the blue salty bits on the planet.
It might not have the raw majesty of the Pacific or the brutality of the Atlantic but the mellower, friendlier nature of the Indian Ocean has meant a couple of things.
The earliest civilisations developed on its shores in Mesopotamia and Persia and because it is a far calmer ocean, trade developed centuries before it did in the big two. The seasonal trade winds meant for easy navigation, heading west in the dry season and back east in the wet season. Which explains how the Indonesians ended up settling in Madagascar and the Egyptians were trading with the Somalis in 2500BC.
These trades also have benefits to surfers, regular offshore winds, predictable as the sun rise, makes the islands in the trade wind belt -namely Indo, Maldives and Sri Lanka some of the most perfect surfing real estate on earth.
Of course sun and offshore means nothing without swell.
The other reason the Indian Ocean is home to the most perfect waves on earth is all down to the unruly neighbour down south ... the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica is surrounded by ocean and a never ending procession of storm cells dance around the bottom of the earth flinging swell northwards. As the storms squeeze under South Africa the systems get a turbo boost and fire long lines of swell uninterrupted by continental shelf into the Indian. These swells have travelled thousands of miles by the time they hit Indo and any randomness and noise from the swell has gone, leaving pure, lined up swell.
Which when brushed by a trade wind turns into all time waves; the lack of continental shelf and tectonic collision geography also means the waves break on coral reefs around islands, not muddy bays and sandy shoals like we're cursed with.
It's not all fun and games though, the Indian Ocean coast of West Australia is far closer to the swell source and in the winter can cop a mean pasting. The warmth of the ocean means phytoplankton production is stunted limiting abundant fish life. Tricky when fishing feeds whole communities. The Indian is also the most dangerous ocean for people. Piracy is alive and well and not just off lawless states like Somalia. Indonesia has its modern Jack Sparrows. The northern fringes are prone to earthquakes and as we now famously know tsunamis as well.
The Indian Ocean is home to mystery and romance and amazingly in this day and age lost tribes. There are islands between Indo and India that no westerners can visit and there's also the elusive military islands in the middle that could well be holding world class waves...
It is an ocean you should visit as much as humanly possible. Surfing in water that's as warm as wee is a treat.
26th January 2015
Microsoft has used what appeared to be a fairly straightforward Windows 10 announcement to unveil two actually pretty amazing - and bonkers - new innovations.
Microsoft Holo Lens is on one level just the software giant's take on virtual reality - also being attempted by Facebook (via Oculus VR, which it purchased last year for $2 billion) and Sony (with Morpheus).
But while it does take the form of a headset with a screen and built-in head tracking, it's also a lot more interesting.
The Holo Lens is able to project holograms into real life, via the display, and overlay them onto objects and walls. With a built-in GPU and CPU, the headset is a self-contained computer, and is able to operate on its own. It runs using a software architecture Microsoft calls 'Windows Holographic' and it's now calling for developers to support it.
The potential for the tech - which is still early in development and only scheduled to be released "in the Windows 10 timeframe" - is enormous.
"We envisioned a world where technology could become more personal. Where it could adapt to the natural ways we communicate, learn, and create. The result is the world's most advanced holographic computing platform, enabled by Windows 10. Transform your world with holograms."
It also published this concept of a version of Minecraft - built into your living room.
And it added that it has already collaborated with NASA on the idea - and its scientists are preparing to walk on the surface (no pun intended) of Mars using a version of the device:
"Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will soon be exploring Mars using holograms of Mars Rover images. They will work as if they can walk on the surface of Mars, an experience previously impossible. As a result, they will be able to learn at a faster pace than ever before."
19th January 2015
The founder of Ship Your Enemies Glitter, an Australian website that lets anyone in the world ship their enemies bags of glitter - the most irritating party product yet invented - has put his company up for sale, after begging potential customers to stop using his website.
Mathew Carpenter's creation is up for auction on startup marketplace Flippa, with a starting bid of just $1, boasting of the site's "$20,000+ in sales and 2.5m visits in four days".
But, he says, the site was a joke that got out of hand. "I launched this website as a bit of a joke not expecting this level of attention. Heck, I launched this website while I was on holiday!
"For the past few days it has been stressful dealing with all of the media attention and even more so because this was only intended to be a small side project. It's taken on a life of its own, and I want to watch it continue to grow under a new owner."
The sale comes days after Carpenter, 22, took to start-up website Product Hunt, where his creation had racked up almost a thousand votes, to ask potential users to just not.
"Hi guys, I'm the founder of this website. Please stop buying this horrible glitter product - I'm sick of dealing with it. Sincerely, Mat."
Since schadenfreude is the internet's mother tongue, the replies were less than sympathetic. "You have made your glitter-coated bed and I'm afraid you will have to lie in it," read one.
It's certainly a lucrative business. Carpenter's details the profit margin for potential buyers: "Each purchase is worth $9.99AUD. I've calculated that the total cost of shipping an envelope filled with the glitter & the A4 letter to most places in the world from Australia ranges anywhere from $2-$4. That leaves $5.99 to $7.99 profit on each order."
"Somewhat overwhelmed... I decided to take the ability to order down, despite receiving thousands of emails & tweets from people wanting to purchase."
For what it's worth, Carpenter is willing to sign a three-year non-compete clause with any potential buyer, meaning that if a follow-up website - say, ShipYourEnemiesConfetti.com - does get made, it won't come from him.
13th January 2015
omive offers a web application that lets you discover movies based upon a variety of criteria. You can sort through movies according to director, genre, production date, rating, or actor/actress. Once you've discover omive, you'll never again complain that you don't know what to watch.
MoviePanda offers apps for both Mac and Windows devices (Linux coming soon). Once you download MoviePanda to your device, you are able to watch movies for free. Choose from over 15,000 movies including well-known titles like Her, RoboCop, and About LastNight.
Foundd offers an iOS application that lets you discover movies (and television shows) you can enjoy with your friends. You can rate the shows you watch, leave comments for other Foundd users, and even write movie reviews. You must have an iOS 6.0 or higher device to download this movie app.
Quenching your movie lust is easy if you have the right tools at your disposal. No longer do you have to sift through Netflix trying to find something to watch. With the growing number of apps for movie buffs, watching your favourite cinematic finds is easier than ever.
12th January 2015
Wearing a wedding ring may symbolise for many their love and commitment to their marriage and spouse, but according to IllicitEncounters.com, the UK's largest dating site for married people, it also means that men with a band of gold may have more luck finding dates, but are not all to be trusted.
asked 2000 of their members if they wore their wedding ring whilst looking for an affair, the survey reveals a shocking 87% of male members don't remove their ring when looking to meet another woman.
Mike Taylor, spokesperson for IllicitEncounters.com
commented: "When a man wears a wedding ring, it not only shows that they are attractive and successful, but it also gives them a type of security that means should they decide to indulge in an affair, they are unlikely to want more than a physical relationship - which is perfect for today's ambitious alpha females. A potent mix of showing they have nothing to hide publicly, while engaging in extramarital activities in secret, means they can also satisfy both sides of their personal needs, without their wives knowing."
It seems that men who wear wedding rings are not necessarily afraid to stray, but they are also more desirable to ladies than single men, with the survey showing that 68% of female members find men who wear a wedding ring more sexually attractive.
Karen an Illicit Encounters member added: "It's a classic case of wanting what you can't have, this makes married men highly attractive to women, especially if they are wearing a wedding ring as it makes ladies feel like they have managed to bag their man despite him showing the world that he is unavailable - it is a fantastic ego boost."
Seeing a married man may indeed have many more benefits than starting a relationship with a single guy. Unavailable men are less likely to be clingy and demanding, meaning strong independent ladies can enjoy a life, with the perks of no strings sex.
While the male members of IllicitEncounters.com
wear their wedding rings with pride, 73% off female members admitted removing their wedding ring when on a date with their secret lover.