Product Placement in Avengers Assemble
At last year’s d-Construct conference the keynote speaker Don Norman talked about how Apple has been planning the move to touch screens and gesture controls for many many years. He confidently said they would be the future of interacting with computers and devices.

Like many recent films that show futuristic technology in the not so near future, Avengers Assemble has lots of shots of people interacting with displays through hand and finger gestures. In its own subtle way it reinforced this future and will make the audience desire iPads, Kinect and the like more.

Did anyone else notice the occasional system sound when Iron Man was moving things between screens? Did anyone else notice they were the system sounds from Apple devices?

This wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. Pixar films feature Apple noises. But, this was a brilliantly subtle way to connect this exciting future with Apple.

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Book promotion
Three people I know have recently had their books published. It is very rare for me to buy a book the day it comes out but I have with these and I’ve been quite surprised by how they’ve been publicised – namely the amount of up front reviews and articles.

It felt like a waste to see a great review of a book three weeks before publication. I thought of people reading it, wanting to buy it (or download it), finding they couldn’t and then forgetting about it by the time it came out. I couldn’t understand why the promo wasn’t targeted to the week of release or afterwards.

Films and albums have both moved to a model where there’s a blitz of publicity around the release. The record industry call it the ‘impact date’. Only the well known franchises tend to get anticipation building promo in advance now.

Is this another example of how book publishing needs to catch up with the way people are now consuming media?

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Virgin Media Tivo
I remember when I first got Sky+ I was very impressed with how simple and easy to use it was. There were very few settings and nothing got in the way of the simple press R to record and green for series link. There was just one long list of recorded programmes, which some complained was hard to navigate with a lot of shows, but I never had an issue.

This week I moved over to Virgin Media’s Tivo. As a well developed platform I expected things to be equally straightforward. I knew it had to be a little more complicated as it integrates with catch-up TV over the internet. I was also intrigued by the TV ad where David Tennant searched for programmes via his name.

Now, I’ve not spent that much time using my Tivo box yet but first impressions aren’t good. It is clunky to move around, with a load of menus and screens to get to things. Recording something from the EPG and setting up series link appears simple enough but it defaults to record new episodes and reruns. That meant that, a day after setting it up to series link ‘Big Bang Theory’, five episodes were recorded when I only wanted the brand new one. Changing that took me through three menu screens.

Like the advert taught me, I searched for David Tennant and an impressive list of films and programmes appeared. However none were available to watch. This is how the Tivo experience falls down. The extra programme information and context it gives you gets in the way and adds very little.

It’s a classic case of a product adding too many features that get in the way of the core user need: “I want to watch TV programmes either live or recorded”. Maybe it was the limited technology in the initial Sky+ boxes but they kept to that core need and performed brilliantly.