Nic Cage meets Pokémon, ridiculing ISPs, and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Staff Picks 3/29

andrew-coutsAndrew Couts: This is why we hate Internet service providers

Few topics get me more riled up than the current state of Internet service in the United States. It’s slow and ghastly expensive compared to other countries. The reason for this is because many ISPs have an effective monopoly on local areas, meaning zero competition, which is bad for anyone who wants to join the 21st century without feeling like their wallet has just been violated. I’ve written about this topic repeatedly. But nothing I’ve said sums up the situation as well as the video below, created by comedy troupe Extremely Decent Films. It’s literally PERFECT. (Warning: NSFW language.)

natt-garunNatt Garun: Nicolas Cage’s face on the first 151 Pokemons

Have you ever wondered what Pokemons would look like without buttons for eyes? What if they all had Nicolas Cage’s face? Of course you wanted to know this. You didn’t? What’s the matter with you? Too bad, because for the next nine or so Tumblr pages, you’re about to witness magic.

Launched earlier this week, the PokemonxNicCage Tumblr page aims to run through all 151 Pokemons amateurishly drawn with Cage’s cartoon face. The results are nothing short of tear-inducing, and they get better every day. Pikachu, Vulpix, Venasaur – check, check, check. You’ve never lived until you’ve see the lovable Jigglypuff with a giant human face and nose. Actually, you might have a hard time sleeping for it, but it’s worth the look.


les-shuLes Shu: Never too big (or tall) to fail

The other night I had a strange dream. Like all nocturnal reveries, I couldn’t remember the details after I woke up, but the dream revolved around a tall, giant Art Deco-styled skyscraper with beautiful features and soaring lobbies throughout. There was one problem: It was completely abandoned.

Punch in “abandoned skyscrapers” into Google and you’ll find that it’s not uncommon for cities to be littered with high-rise tombs that once housed thriving industries and unfinished metal skeletons of what were supposed to be symbols of prosperity, only to be occupied by squatters. Like banks and corporations that were deemed “too big to fail,” these empty buildings are clear examples that, yes, they can. (Even in wealthy, high-tech San Francisco, a former Art Deco tower has been vacated by its telecom owner; the old PacBell building, which will soon find new life as offices for the likes of Yelp, bears a resemblance to the building in my dream.)

No city contains as many derelict buildings as Detroit. Once an economic engine of the country, the Motor City has seen a drastic decrease in its population due to financial decline and other social issues. Beautiful structures like the Michigan Central Station lay in decay, a sign of Detroit’s glory years that’s unable to crumble away in peace due to historical preservation acts. Skyscrapers may be the modern statues of our successes, but they can also serve as graves for our failures.

jennifer-bergenJennifer Bergen: Somersby Cider takes the piss out of Apple

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s actually sunny and finally warmer than 40 degrees here in New York. Maybe it’s that I’ve actually been to an opening of an Apple Store and can attest that the euphoric celebration is a strange thing to experience. But after watching the commercial below for UK-based Somersby Cider, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Perhaps Somersby is taking a cue from Samsung in its witty commercials that mock the dedication of Apple fanatics? Whatever the case, Somersby, a new brand of cider made by Carlsberg, only needs a single minute to take the piss out of Apple.

The ad mimics an Apple product launch, which is apt considering the product is made from apples. With fans lined up outside, the commercial starts with customers high-fiving employees as they enter the store. There are some pretty nerdy jokes in here, like when one employee holds up two apples and says “single-core, double-core,” or when another one instructs the potential buyer to “lift towards the mouth and in to face,” (get it?). It also “works perfectly in direct sunlight,” which, considering the nice weather of late, makes us want to run straight to an Apple store… err, pub … and down a cider. With its tagline, “Less Apps, More Apples,” Somersby has found the key to our booze-loving, geek hearts.

amir-iliafarAmir Iliaifar: Who says rednecks ain’t smart?

In a rather ingenious move – and a video that may just go viral (yay) – self-proclaimed “redneck country band” Gunnar and The Grizzly Boys allegedly “ambushed” a crew of Google Street View workers and with a little help from their imaging equipment, shot a video for the band’s soon-to-be barnyard hit, Could Be Me.

Not bad for a band whose lead singer and songwriter writes the band’s songs while sitting on a tractor in his family’s apple and plum orchards.

I’m no country music fan; in fact I can think of a million things I’d rather do than listen to anything remotely country – Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty excluded – but I have to give credit where credit is due, at least when it comes to the band’s clever idea for a music video.

Besides, there are way worse songs that have gone viral…

Remember this gem?


Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

If you don't want all of your files stored in one place but only have one drive to work with, partitioning is your best way forward. Here's how to partition a hard drive in Windows 10, step by step.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Smart Home

Drinkworks and Keurig have created a pod-based cocktail machine

HomeBar, a collaboration between Drinkworks and Keurig, creates cocktails the easy way. The machine creates mixed drinks of all kinds. All you have to do is insert in the pod for the drink you want.

Google honors Veterans Day by highlighting military service stories

For Veterans Day, Google is honoring the heroes that served the country with a new Google Doodle that highlights the stories of five veterans from the five different branches of the military.
Emerging Tech

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale smashes online shopping records

The annual online shopping frenzy that is Singles' Day this year raked in $30.8 billion, up from $25 billion last time around. The Alibaba-organized event generates more in sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Zoom in on famous works through the Art Institute of Chicago’s new website

Art lovers, listen up. The Art Institute of Chicago has given its website a serious makeover with new features that let you get up close and personal with more than 50,000 artworks by famous (and not so famous) artists.

Over a million veterans now eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Comcast's low-cost Internet Essentials program, which provides internet access for just $10 per month, has expanded to include U.S. veterans. One million veterans now qualify for the service.

Google’s Squoosh will get an image web-ready with in-browser compression

Google's latest web app development is an image editing and compression tool, Squoosh. In just a few clicks, it can take a huge image and make it much lighter and web-friendly, all in your browser.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Social Media

‘Superwoman’ YouTuber Lilly Singh taking a break for her mental health

Claiming to be "mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted," popular YouTuber Lilly Singh has told her millions of fans she's taking a break from making videos in order to recuperate.