Captain America: Civil War

May 9th, 2016

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Last night I went to see the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War.

Let me get this out of the way immediately: this is the best Marvel movie to date. Simple as that. Now let’s see why this is.

Of course this post will contain some spoilers here and there, so only read it if you have watched the movie already!

We knew from all the trailers and videos that this would have been basically an Avengers movies as all the heroes (except from Thor and the Hulk), were going to be together. We also knew we were going to see some new heroes, in the form of Black Panther and Spiderman. So the big question was: how all these people are going to interact with each other without the movie feeling too overcrowded?

Well, the Russo’s brothers definitely pulled off a great treat for the Marvel’s fan!

In Civil War the main story line is about the US Government trying to regulate the action of all those super heroes, creating a sort of super U.N. task force. Not everyone likes the ideas and this will ended up splitting the Avengers in two side, Captain American vs. Iron Man; hence the Civil War.

In addition to this, we still get the Winter Soldier plot and this will also contribute in creating more distance between the two main heroes, with the full revelation of who killed Tony Stark’s parents.

And, to make things even more complicated, we see Black Panthers having beef with the Bucky until almost the end of the movie as he gets trapped in the main twist as all the other Avengers.

Despite all the underlining drama, the movie still has plenty of space for comedy, which is this case is brilliantly delivered by the two main cameos of the movie: Ant-Man and Spiderman.

The two are affiliated with different teams. Ant-Man gets recruited by Hawkeye for Team Cap, while Peter Parker is recruited directly by Tony Stark for Team Iron Man. Of the two, Spiderman is the one that comes through as the funnier of the twos, being brilliantly portraied by Tom Holland. Thanks to his references to real world movies and his seemingly genuine surprise and excitment for all the things super heroes, Spiderman/Parker manages to make the movie feel closer to you as the audience.

It also worth noticing how Marvel already managed to create a better Spiderman in this 10 minutes cameo that what Sony has been able to do in 15 years of so of trying. We knew the shortness of the appearance was mostly due to the to production houses getting a late rights agreement; but despite everything this was still a solid performance and a great ad for next year standalone Spiderman re-introduction: Homecoming.

Civil War is also able to deliver some great dialogues that really makes you feel involved in the ideological fight between the two sides and it makes it really difficult for the audience to actually pick a side. Even the heroes themselves are having troubles picking sides. If the movie poster clearly separates the Avengers right down the middle, the more the story proceeds, the more that line gets blurred and they start to mix again, ultimately being truthful to their own character and historical relationships.

I’m certainly glad Thor and the Hulk were not in this fight. Thor being a God from another planet wouldn’t have not fit really well in this very Earthly dilemma. On the other side instead, the Hulk doesn’t posses the “finesse” needed to participates in such a fight. Hulk smashes as we know. Hulk doesn’t read a 200 pages treaty.

Finally, the movie closes leaving us with only a partial closure and as always tends a hand forward to the future chapters in the story. Steve Rogers is hiding in Wakanda with his new friend Black Panther, putting the Winter Soldier to sleep (literally under ice), but he also tends a reaching hand toward Tony Stark in the form of a comically old flip-phone and the post it: I know you’re mad and this is crazy, but call me maybe?1.

Speaking of the feature, we then see the second post-credit scene in which we go back to Queens in NY, to see how Peter Parker is dealing with the post-symptoms of his first big fight and we also see the spider symbol make its first appearance, remarking the fact that a new Spidey is finally in town.

Overall, as I said at the very beginning, this is a great Marvel movie, arguably the best in the series so far. Speaking of series, this movie of course slot inside the wider arc of the MCU but it also does a good job at standing as its own movie and story. If you’ve seen all the others movie it helps, but if you hadn’t, you won’t feel lost. Which is always good.

If you want to get more of Civil War, I would suggest you listen to the latest The Incomparable podcast, which does a great job at recapping the movie.


  1. I do apologise for this, but it was too good of a pun to let it go! 

2016 National Geographic – Travel Photographer Of The Year

May 5th, 2016

It’s that time of the year again. The National Geographic is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is now accepting entries. Harness the power of photography and share your stunning travel experiences from around the globe. Enter your most powerful photos for a chance to become the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

Even if you are not participating, make sure to check the gallery of already submitted works. There are already – of course – great shots, like the one below.

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The picture was taken by Christoph Schaarschmidt who has to say the following about it:

I took this photo in july 2014 at Trollstigen in Norway. Standing there alone in the fog, I was waiting for the view to become clear. And then it happened, the fog disappeared and though it was 1 am already, one car came slowly up the steep serpentines. It was my dream for a long time to take a photo of lighttrails like this in Norway – and it was just an awesome feeling that it worked out on the most beautiful and famous street. A few minutes later the fog returned, even thicker than before.

So envious of the ability and the quality of the result. But I’m especially curious about learning more about that place in Norway, and maybe organise a drive there. It looks like an amazing place to be.

That’s the real power of the National Geographic, it never fails to spark your imagination.

↳ OK Computer

May 3rd, 2016

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Jalopnik has a fascinating story on how McLaren is keeping its F1 model alive, thanks to a 20 years old pc.

Not something that you would expect from such a technology giant, but it definitely shows commitment to keep the myth alive. After all there are only about 100 of these cars still alive, each worth north of $10 million.

I’ve also recently discovered that the model pictured in the article is currently being restored down the road from where my office is.

McLaren Special Operations is a workshop like no other. It’s located in an industrial complex a few minutes from their well known Technology- and Production Center in Woking, England, in a building where McLaren used to work on its Formula One racing efforts before deciding to give it a go against Ferrari on the streets as well.

I hope to get a glimpse of this amazing car next time around.

The Case For The Lack Of Leather

April 26th, 2016

Yesterday I spent quite a while browsing online in search for some good iPad Pro accessories (I’ll always refer to the big 12.9″ throughout the article). Specifically, I was looking for some good quality leather cases, as I’m growing more and more frustrated by the Apple silicone case.

My first stop was of course the Apple Online Store. Once you apply the compatibility filter for the big Pro, quite a sad page will be looking back at you.

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Yep, this page hasn’t changed at all since November of last year, when the Pro was initially launched on the market. But the worst part of all, is how Apple is actively trolling their customers by showing a banner full of colourful and mixed cases compositions. And then you only get grey or white. That’s pretty bad.

You could also argue that the lack of Smart Connector accessories is pretty bad, but that wasn’t my point of contempt last night.

I was specifically disappointed by the lack of any leather case. I knew Apple didn’t release any new accessories on their store, but I was secretly hoping that somehow, by visiting that page I would’ve suddenly find what I was looking for.

Now, why leather, you ask? It’s because since Apple started introducing their leather accessories, they’ve always been the best on the market and the one and only type of case that I find acceptable for my devices. Every new iPhone immediately goes into a leather case1 and so my iPad Air had the same treatment. It is undoubtedly a premium and expensive case, but it’s totally worth the extra money.

What I’m still hoping Apple will eventually release their Smart Case. It’s the best case you’ll ever find, don’t even bother wasting your time on Amazon as I did yesterday, trying to find a similar alternative, you won’t. The Smart Case it’s great because it’s thin, but gives full 360° protection with a massive amount of style. The quality of the leather is great, giving a great feel in your hand while you’re working with your device.

So, while I was browsing the web yesterday, I started asking myself why Apple wouldn’t release such a case for the big Pro. I gave it a lot of thought and bottomline I think they won’t release it because it would get a ridiculous price tag; too expensive even for Apple standard. Let’s do some math, to try and estimate what such a case could possibly cost.

Currently you can buy a £65 leather Smart Case that would fit both the iPad Air 2 and the new smaller iPad Pro or you could get a £29 Smart Cover in silicone. The premium for the leather case is 124%. Now, consider the equivalent silicone Smart Cover for the big iPad Pro. It is currently priced at £49. If you apply the same premium, you will get a whopping £110. Technically this would still be cheaper than buying the combo of front and back silicone cover for the big iPad Pro, but on the other hand, Apple is not promoting the two as a pair, and so a leather iPad Smart Case would still represent the most expensive accessory sold by Apple for an iPad2.

Bottom line is that I would whatever amount they would set in a heartbeat. So please Apple, take a short trip to Italy and buy some leather for me, would you?

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  1. How great is the Saddle Brown or the new Marine Blue case?! 
  2. Yes the Smart Keyboard is more expensive than that being priced at £139, but I’m not counting it as it is more than just a cover and primarily sold for its function as portable keyboard. 

↳ The Cars Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe

April 22nd, 2016

The guys at CNET Roadshow have a nice roundup of the best cars that have appeared so far across the vast MCU.

My personal favourite? The Acura NSX Roadster concept that you can see in the 2012 The Avengers.

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Pay Your Way To The Top

April 15th, 2016

A new report from Bloomberg is potentially going to cast some shadows over the AppStore:

Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed, according to people familiar with the plans.

If this report will end up being true, there could potentially be massive repercussion on the majority of small indy-developers.

As of today, the AppStore is the home of several million apps, most of which are good, with an overwhelming majority of spam, copycat and just generally terrible second tier apps. The problem is that the search function is terrible and so it’s almost impossible to have to good app surface above the rest of the crowd.

Now, if Apple has really created a new team in charge to solve this issue, why would they keep it as a secret? The AppStore is one of the most public and direct channel that Apple holds in their hands, so it would only make sense for them to open up to customers and especially developers feedback, as they deal with the architecture of the store every other day.

The second part of the report is even more worrying.

Among the ideas being pursued, Apple is considering paid search, a Google-like model in which companies would pay to have their app shown at the top of search results based on what a customer is seeking.

Paid search? Ouch.

Yes, Google made a huge business out of this model, but I’m not confident that Apple could achieve similar results in this space. The problem with the AppStore is not just the search function. The biggest issue at play here is that the store is kind of a black hole. Developers drop their apps in and somehow, sometimes they show up on the other side, available to customers. To make a paid search model work, Apple has to increase the level of transparency of the all infrastructure. In particular Apple has to clarify the set of rules that regulate its store. Nowadays app gets rejected for all sort of strange reason. Or even worse, they get accepted, they stay in the store for a few days or even just hours and then they get removed without a good explanation1. Imagine a developer, especially a small one, gearing up to release a brand new app and deciding to pay to get to the top of the list, only to suddenly be shut down few hours later? How would this work in this complicated environment?

Of course we need to apply the big footnote here, that this report is just a rumor and Apple hasn’t of course confirmed or declined, but we know that when Apple puts together hundreds of engineers in the same room, something is definitely boiling under the hood.

I guess we may see something in this year WWDC. In the meantime I’ll keep using Google search.


  1. This Reddit case is just the latest in a long and complicated story. 

Star Wars Special: C-3PO

April 14th, 2016

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Ever wandered why C-3P0 appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a bright red arm the first time we see him?

Well, now we finally get to know that! As teased by J.J. Abrams in the Secrets of the Force Awakens documentary, a special Marvel comic has just been released to tell us the story behind the red limb.

In a surprisingly moving and maybe uncharacteristic story, we travel with C-3P0 and friends, along a very dangerous road. I don’t want to say much more, to avoid spoiling any surprises, but it’s a nice take on the nature of droids and their man-made consciousness; a rare behind the scene at what’s going on inside a protocol droid’s circuitry.

You can get it right now on comiXology for £ 2.99 (Or any fine comic book store). A no-brainer insta-buy if you ask me!

↳ Lonely Planet’s Toilets: A Spotter’s Guide

April 12th, 2016

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The Lonely Planet team has outdone itself once again. They’ve just release a new travel guide called: Toilets: A Spotter’s Guide, which they describe as follows:

Loos with incredible views, lavish lavatories, outstanding outhouses ­ all are featured in this pictorial guide to the world’s most stunning toilets. Whether they’re high­tech or arty, amusing or amazing, each toilet has a photo and a description of its location. More than 100 restrooms to remember are featured, from Antarctica to Zambia.

I must say, flicking through the preview, you can see some amazing places.

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Squatting on the edge of a cliff, 4600m up the flanks of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Barafu Camp takes the concept of a long-drop toilet to an elevated level.

They’ve got a nice sense of humour too.