Windows 10 finally gets an official Instagram app

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Back when Microsoft unveiled its new “Metro”, later renamed “Modern”, app platform, it was ridiculed for not having most of the most popular apps and games available on mobile platforms. For example, it was only recently that Windows actually got Candy Crush Saga, years after the game’s rise to fame. One app that has so far eluded capture was Instagram . The day, however, has finally arrived as Facebook finally unleashes official Windows 10 versions of its apps, including Facebook, Messenger, and yes, finally, Instagram.
Instagram is a very picky service. Officially, you can only upload from its official mobile apps. You can’t even upload via its official web page, at least not officially. There are many third party Instagram apps, even on Windows 10, but they are almost all limited to browser and searching. That has pretty much left Windows phone users, be it 8.1 or 10, out in the cold.

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The problem with that setup is that there will always be third party apps that try to circumvent Instagram’s limitations and there will always be people trying to use those. Unfortunately, not all those apps and services are trustworthy, which will end up giving Instagram itself a headache. Now, at least, the problem is solved.
Windows 10 mobile users will now finally be able to post on Instagram, officially and securely. At least hopefully securely. Naturally, the apps supports a great number of filters to enhance your photo’s mood. Live Tile support means you can pin Instagram to your Start screen and be notified of changes right and there. The bad news, this is limited to Windows 10 Mobile only. Windows 10 tablet users, you’re still not considered a valid Instagram audience.

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Facebook is also rolling out new Facebook and Messenger apps for Windows 10 PCs and tablets. This newer version makes better use of the width of the screen instead of feeling like a humongous smartphone app. The app also supports Reactions, finally allowing users to do more than just a thumbs app, and stickers in comments. Ironically, Facebook isn’t yet available for Windows 10 mobile, but it will soon be, which sadly isn’t the case for an Instagram PC/tablet version.

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4 reasons you shouldn’t be afraid to be funny on social media

maasaiLaughter is a universal language and one of our first communication methods. Before we had spoken or written language, humans used laughter to express our enjoyment or accession with a certain situation. It’s also a form of communication that bridges the gap between various languages, cultures, ages and demographics. So it’s no wonder that funny memes and witty hashtags are such a hit on social media. In fact, according to one study, “humor was employed at near unanimous levels for all viral advertisements. Consequently, this study identified humor as the universal appeal for making content viral.”
So, humorous content gets shared more on social media channels. That’s an obvious benefit for your brand. But what other benefits can you gain by making your audience laugh? Following are four other advantages to using humorous content.

1. It creates unity.

Laughter is social. We laugh 30 times more when we’re with other people than when we’re alone, according to Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Laughter eases tension and forms a sense of unity through groups. Get your Facebook fans or Twitter followers laughing, and you’ll be helping to establish a sense of community and building connections with your brand and amongst your fans and followers.

2. It triggers emotional responses.

Humor creates positive feelings. Laughing releases endorphins, relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, helps to relieve stress and overall just makes us feel good. These physiological and chemical responses are unconscious, and create a pleasant emotional response. By using humor in your content on social media, you help to associate pleasant feelings with your brand.

READ MORE >> The new normal: virtual reality takes on the arts

3. It makes your brand memorable.

Positive feelings create memories. Research has shown that just 42% of positive experiences were forgotten, while 60% of negative experiences faded from memory. No one remembers a dull Facebook post or boring YouTube video, but we all remember Kmart’s “I Shipped My Pants” commercials, even if we’d forgotten that Kmart was around. Making your audience feel good through humorous content will help them to remember your brand in the short- and long-term.

4. It provides audience insights.

Peter McGraw, director of the Humor Research Lab and author of the Humor Code, states that “funny” is the intersection of benign and violation. If something is benign — a everyday observation — it’s not going to be funny. If something is a violation — a gross or offensive view of the world — it’s also not going to be funny. But that sweet spot between everyday and offensive, that’s where funny happens.

Learning where that sweet spot is for your audience can tell you a lot about their mindset, values and desires. To find this perfect junction, you may have to test things you think are too benign or too offensive, which does create some risks. But the insights you gain into your audience’s mentality can be well worth the uncertainty.

Being funny helps to create stronger emotional ties with your audience, creates better brand recall and builds a closer knit community. Humor may not come naturally for your brand, and may not always be the right approach. Luckily, social media allows you to test and iterate quickly to find the best humorous tone for your brand and audience.

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James Bond wannabes: This amphibious Lamborghini is for sale on eBay

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The amphibious Lamborghini Countach is for sale on eBay for $26,000

Some might say that you never really need a Lamborghini. Those people might also state that no one needs an amphibious car either.

Certainly, though, even those naysayers can agree that everyone needs an amphibious Lamborghini. And, thankfully, there’s one for sale right now on eBay for a shockingly low $26,775.35 (Ksh 2,600,00).

SEE ALSO The new normal: virtual reality takes on the arts

If you’re thinking that price is too good to be true. That’s because it is. The car, which the owner says is the only one of its kind, has a storied past, having been converted from righthand drive to lefthand drive and back to right.

And although it looks like a Countach, the car is registered in England as a “Ryan Rover V8 Sports” complete with a Rover V8 engine.

Moreover, even the seller admits it needs some “TLC” but opines it’s worth “£50k (Ksh 5762.74) + when reinstated to its former glory.

Specifically, the car needs seats, tires, brakes and to have the doors reinstalled — among  other fixes.

If you’re willing to look past all those niggling issues, you could have a seriously cool and distinctive car. I mean, this is the only amphibious Countach on the planet. That title alone is worth the $26,000 (Ksh 2628951).

 

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The Jungle Book’ review: It’s a stunning visual achievement

The Jungle Book. Out on 15 April.

The Jungle Book. Out on 15 April.

The Jungle Book movie review: This is The Jungle Book reinvented for 2016 by a director who knows just how to mix the heavy blows with the light touch. It’s a little more reminiscent of the jungle and the book than the 1967 Disney classic, a lot, lot darker, and yet, ultimately as exuberant, with a surprisingly strong and novel message at the heart of it, in a story that already didn’t lack for them.

Rating: 4 / 5

The slushy escape from a mad tiger and a landslide, astride a water buffalo, is worth a Revenant. The slouch atop a branch where a child, a panther and a bear hang out together, into the sunset, is worth a Lion King. The destruction wrought by an angry giant monkey is worth a King Kong. The heartbreak of a goodbye between friends is worth a Finding Nemo. The Shere Khan will haunt your sleep, the Baloo cheer up your day, and the Mowgli will make every child, and adult, want to walk swinging those arms just a bit.

This is The Jungle Book reinvented for 2016, by a director who knows just how to mix the heavy blows with the light touch. It’s a little more reminiscent of the jungle and the book than the 1967 Disney classic, a lot, lot darker, and yet, ultimately, as exuberant, with a surprisingly strong and novel message at its heart, in a story that already didn’t lack them.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE>>> The Jungle Book Trailer

There is no ‘boy being found in a basket, on a boat’ stuff here. We meet Mowgli (Neel Sethi) when already 10 and already finding himself struggling with the wolf life. While his wolf pack is as accommodating as ever, a “water truce” called due to a drought – bringing all the animals together, in peace, to a sole watering hole – brings him to the attention of the other animals in the jungle. Most are just curious, but Shere Khan (Idris Elba) is furious.

Left scarred by humans once, Shere Khan wants his revenge, and tells the wolves who have raised Mowgli (Akela and Rakhsa, voiced by Esposito and Lupita Nyong’O) that he will wait till only the rains to come after the man cub.

The time comes, and Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), who was the one to bring the infant Mowgli to the wolves, tells Raksha that he must take the boy to a “man village” for his safety. There on begin the adventures which bring Mowgli face-to-face with first Shere Khan, then the water buffaloes, Kaa, Baloo and King Louie.

Favreau, and screenplay writer Justin Marks, who struggle a bit in the beginning with all the harmony, come alive from here on as the film ventures into the jungle. This is Madhya Pradesh’s tropical-forest Kanha Tiger Reserve recreated in Los Angeles, from the creak of a dead tree and the dried tip of a grass patch, to the landslide sending a forest slipping down into the raging Pench — using the tech knowhow also behind Avatar, Gravity and Life of Pi.

However, that’s just the start. Where the film scores consistently is in its CGI-crafted talking animals, who emote and enact without anything appearing out of the ordinary. Plus, if you look hard enough, you can spot the wily wisdom of Kingsley in Bagheera, the unmatched jowly languor of Murray in Baloo, the shiny, spiky Walken in King Louie, and the actress with just the right amount of ‘ss’ (a suitably hypnotic Scarlett Johansson) in Kaa. Though nothing prepares you for the ferociousness and vehemence the mild-mannered Elba packs into Shere Khan.

There are many scenes which stand out, including Louie emerging out of the shadows after a bone-chilling lazy conversation, Shere Khan wriggling through the narrowest of tree branches (a fact about animals that one tends to overlook), and Mowgli racing through a dark forest holding aloft a torch.

It’s a Disney film alright (complete with Bare Necessities, and I Want To Be Just Like You) but you leave in the sound comfort of knowing that here is a director not just in love with your much-loved childhood story but treating it with the growing respect of an adult.

When Mowgli, told to sing, first recites the Law of the Jungle – ‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack’ – Baloo exclaims, “That’s not a song, that’s propaganda!” That is delightful, but so is the later realisation of the old forest wisdom that lies at the heart of it.

And while Colonel Haathi of the 1967 film may have been as memorable a Disney character as they come, this Jungle Book knows it better. When it comes to the jungle, the silent giant is one animal not to be trifled with.

Director: Jon Favreau

Voices in Jungle Book of Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’O, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Scarlett Johansson

READ MORE  The new normal: virtual reality takes on the arts

The new normal: virtual reality takes on the arts

From Batman v Superman to The Tempest at Stratford, here’s how virtual reality will shape the arts, culture and entertainment industries in 2016

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Batman Vs Superman Doomsday

In January, it was revealed that Apple is assembling a team of virtual reality (VR) experts to build prototypes of 3D headsets to match those of VR rivals Oculus Rift, which was bought by Facebook for $2bn (Ksh 200bn) in 2014; Google Cardboard, which transforms your smartphone into a cut-price VR viewer; Microsoft’s forthcoming VR product HoloLens, or Magic Leap, which is being developed by a secretive US start-up.

Lucky's Tale

Lucky’s Tale

Coming soon: eagerly awaited VR releases include Lucky’s Tale

This year the major technology players will all place big bets that virtual reality is about to change the way we live in as many far-reaching ways as the internet has. If that is true, what will it mean for the arts and entertainment? Intriguingly, the rise of virtual reality (in which a brand new reality is presented to the subject, typically via a helmet-like headset) and augmented reality (in which computer-generated elements are overlaid on the subject’s view of the real world) throws up different challenges for each branch of the arts.

For video games, recent advances in VR are a natural progression of the evolution of gameplay over the last 40 years. 2016’s most exciting new VR releases will include the cartoon-like Lucky’s Tale, the multi-player space combat game Eve: Valkyrie and the arctic adventure Edge of Nowhere, out later this year, all playable with an Oculus Rift headset and PC.

No wonder it is predicted that around the world we will spend $5.1bn (£3.7bn) on virtual-reality video games and hardware this year.

By contrast, immersive technologies are having surprisingly little impact on film. Of course, computer-generated images have led to a revolution in the kind of stories that can be told on screen. Many of 2016’s most keenly anticipated films – Batman v Superman (out 25 March), The Jungle Book (out 15 April), Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (out 22 July) and the Harry Potter-inspired Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (out 18 November) – rely on CGI to cast their spell.

The Jungle Book (out 15 April)

The Jungle Book (out 15 April)

New vision: The Jungle Book  Photo: Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

But film-lovers have so far failed to respond as enthusiastically to advances in the way films are themselves experienced: 3-D is best suited to eye-popping action movies, while for more realistic dramas and comedies many cinema-goers find the added “realism” a distraction.

Do we want virtual reality to make us feel like active participants in cinema – so that audiences can, for instance, touch and even taste the raw bison liver that Leonardo DiCaprio eats in The Revenant? Perhaps not.

A quieter revolution in virtual reality is already underway in Britain’s museums and galleries. At the end of last year, the British Museum launched its first virtual tours, in which users could explore its collection from the comfort of their sofas by using an indoor version of Google Maps’ Street View. It was part of the ongoing roll-out of the Google Cultural Institute, a scheme to provide internet-enabled access to great artistic and historical collections around the world.

In truth, the project is not as revelatory as it sounds because the virtual representation of the museums and their objects is not sufficiently fluent or realistic. But this will come. Between now and 2020 we can expect tens of thousands of cultural treasures currently stored in the archives of the British Museum, National Gallery, V&A and others to become available to the general public thanks to virtual reality.

The Tempest at Stratford

The Tempest at Stratford

Show stopper: The Tempest at Stratford in November  Photo: RSC

One might presume that the theatre – perhaps our most ancient form of virtual reality – would have little to gain from these advances. In fact, 2016 will see several innovative experiments that combine elements of VR with live theatrical performance.

In November, for instance, the Royal Shakespeare Company will present a production of The Tempest at Stratford quite unlike any seen in the play’s 405-year history, as the spirit Ariel will be represented by a 3D hologram projected above the audience using technology developed by Andy Serkis’s visual effects studio Imaginarium. Is this the stuff our future dreams are made on?