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?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Sony is showing something off at MWC -- will it be the Xperia XZ4?

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.

Apple Maps boosts Flyover locations, indoor mall maps, and more

In a boost for Apple Maps, the tech company has recently added more than 50 new locations for Flyover, the feature that offers spectacular 3D photo views of particular cities and famous landmarks around the world.

Google has found a clever way to make your search history more useful

Google has found a clever way to make more use of your search history by showing links to pages you've visited before. Ideal for repeat searches for the same page, the links show up on cards at the top of mobile search results.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.

Shutdown makes dozens of .gov websites insecure due to expired TLS certificates

The US government shutdown is causing trouble in internet security. As the shutdown enters day 22, dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inaccessible due to expired transport layer security (TLS) certificates.

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.

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.