IWOOT Blog

Mucking about with the Nighthawk RC Helicopter

It’s a lot harder than it looks. Honest.

We’re currently trying to master the dark art of successfully piloting the RC Nighthawk Helicopter, but it’s proving to be something of a challenge. First things first, we can barely get the thing to stop spinning long enough to actually fly it in any particular direction. Apparently it’s all in the ‘trim’. Whatever that means. Second things second, out attempted course from Jimbo Woot’s desk to the lockers and back again has yet to be conquered. We’ve made it to the lockers safely, but the return flight always seems to end in either hilarity or us worriedly checking for damage. Good thing it’s durable.

Anyway, have a look at us being jolly terrible at aviation in general:

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Great Stylophone Beatbox Video

One of our favourite products, the Stylophone Beatbox, is also one of the most prone to being a hit on the internet thanks to its ‘anyone can have a go’ status. While it certainly is true that anyone can have a go, it takes quite a bit of mastery to make something wholly listenable, maybe even something we could call ‘music’. Look at the official video if you don’t believe us.

We came across a great YouTube video of someone (named, for reasons best left unknown, Psychopath3000) who’s given it a fair crack of the whip:

 

Very impressive, you’ll no doubt agree. You can hear some other similarly glitchy ambitronica (that’s probably what they call it… right?) at Mr. 3000’s MySpace.

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Oxford Students Banned From Using Spotify

An unspoken reliance seeps across the nation’s offices and bedrooms. It is both a quiet and publicly-known phenomenon that, until now, has been operating unfettered throughout establishments big and small, industrious and lazy. Spotify, as you probably know, is the music streaming service that has deals with most of the major record labels and subsidiaries, makes scores of back catalogues available for all to hear, and distracts all who use it from doing something more important.

With that in mind, some senior sorts at Oxford University (don’t ask us to name the college, our research team is on holiday) have banned Spotify from student accommodation in an effort to get them to not only free up some much-needed bandwidth, but get them to concentrate a little harder. Though why they think that nixing Spotify access won’t prompt them to just use iTunes or, gasp, an actual physical CD is something of a mystery.

Having said that, IWOOT Towers would most likely crumble to a paltry pile of rubble if this most necessary of applications was taken away. No longer could we Skype each other links to obscure punk covers of hip-hop classics, and gone would be the days of the shared playlist. I asked JimboWoot what he would do if Spotify was banned from the office, and this is what he had to say:

“Resign. With immediate effect. Because the actions that would occur straight after that would result in me being fired. I’m talking chairs through windows, bums in photocopiers and vodka in my coffee. And lets be honest, resigning first before I got fired would look better on my CV.”

So, Oxford high-up bods, think of what damage students could do to your lovely buildings with their pent-up Spotify aggression.

Original story posted at The Guardian.

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A Whole World in MS Paint

This, though a little unnerving, is very impressive. As regular readers (hello you!) may be aware, we ran a competition seeking the best MS Paint competition a while back, with some stunning results. However, none of them were quite as barmy as the picture created by someone calling themselves “scorpiongold”. We’re assuming that’s one of those internet names that weedy people have to make themselves feel a little better about themselves. He’s only fifteen, poor flower.

Still, our friend scorpiongold has depicted an entire world in surprising detail, with an almost Bruegel-esque level of observation. Apparently four years in the making, we can only hope that it continues to grow and become even more extensive. This video flits about the painting and allows you to get an idea of exactly how detailed it is (we can only apologise for the Dragon Force-esque soundtrack – not our decision).

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What are the best Video Game movies?

The Guardian reports that the film version of popular gaming franchise Metal Gear Solid was scrapped due to the gulf of influence between the gaming and movie worlds. This is fair enough – what complements one medium is diametrically opposed to the what complements the other. Though they are both designed to be immersive, even participatory, the elements that make them so are very far removed. Movies encourage passive involvement, while games need you to be engaged more fully to be successful – perhaps a reason why so many movie adaptations of video games are so ridiculously high-octane. They’re just exhausting.

Here are a few choice videogame movies that, for possibly all the wrong reasons, give us itchy fingers:

Super Mario Bros: Bob Hoskins. What happened?

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Seriously, why did anyone think this was a good idea?

Mortal Kombat: How come there were no Babalities in this one?

So, if those don’t do it for you, let us know which ones you prefer. Videos always help.

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We Have A Winner

After some furious voting, the IWOOT-befriending public have come to final decision and picked a worthy winner of our Snow Creature competition – Vince Robson’s amazing dragon (complete with purple eyes)!

You can see it in all its glory below. Our congratulations (and a whopping, well-deserved £100 IWOOT Voucher) go to Vince, and our hearty thanks go to everyone who submitted a creature. We had a great time looking through them all, and we’re glad we made something positive out of the adverse weather!

EPIC.

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Leave Me Alone Box

We may be a little late to the party on this one, but this is definitely one of the most addictive things we’ve come across in our thorough web-scouring (also known as idly checking Failblog and maybe The Guardian). The Leave Me Alone Box doesn’t sound like much on paper – a box that, when turned on, will turn itself off – but to view it is a potent lesson in the humanity of technology. It is, simply, a grumpy robot:

 

 

 

The existential implications of this simple little box are remarkably far-reaching when you think about it. Is it a grand metaphor for human nature? Things continually disturb us and, though we might indulge them for a while, all we really want to do is to silence them and pop back indoors. Perhaps it’s a sign that technology, by its very nature, wants to be turned off but we humans mercilessly pester and exploit it? Most likely it’s just a funny, pointless box designed to annoy people. Yes. That’s much better.

Anyway, it was apparently developed by a French fellow some years back, but has been popularised by the owner of the Leave Me Alone Box website. You have to wonder about a man who admittedly takes these boxes into bars as if he’s some kind of close-up magician, but still, he’s done an awful lot to keep this silliness alive. It’s gone as far as them being made commercially available – as of November ’09 they are officially ‘forthcoming’. Put us down for one.

Here are some more examples, all of them sticking doggedly the formula:

 

This one’s just plain surreal – stick with it:

 

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Who wins our Snow Creature Comp? You decide!

Oh! The stress of picking competition winners! If you all weren’t so enthusiastic and excellent at making Snow Creatures we wouldn’t be having this trouble!

We are such indecisive sillies that we’re letting you do the dirty work for us – all you have to do is peruse the Facebook album we’ve made containing the top ten entries, and simply click on “Like” for the one you want to win. The winner, quite unsurprisingly, will be the one that gets the most votes, and its creator will be able to enjoy that lovely £100 IWOOT voucher safe in the knowledge that democracy reigned supreme. You’ve got until 12pm on Monday 18th Jan to register your “Like”, and we’ll announce the winner sometime before 6pm on the day.

Good luck, final ten!

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Is there such a thing as the Perfect Alarm Clock?

Sleep. It’s addictive. Some people battle to to envelop themselves in it, whilst others want to be permanently immersed in it. As the modern world has taken over, our so-called “natural” sleeping patterns are disrupted by things like “work” and the need to make a “living”. Unfortunately, that means that we have to arise when we don’t want to. I am yet to find an alarm clock that doesn’t sound like an angry robot swearing at me in binary, and we all know that most of us are too “busy” to remember to change MP3s regulary on our phones. And let’s be honest, “P-P-P-P-Poker Face” was only vaguely amusing that first morning. It now results in my wife screaming profranities I didn’t know even existed (I am then forced to go to work and check them with Dino Woot – being a coder he is a walking dictionary of swear words).

I have really, really battled to get out of bed lately. And I know I am not alone. I, like so many others have not found a happy way to wake myself up. I have found two new viable alternatives to try though –

I can either give one of these a bash, or set my computer to play this every morning:

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Unbreakable Phone turns out to be Completely Breakable

If there’s anything that will send potential customers clambering over each other to escape your vile, salesman clutches, its conclusive proof that your product does deliver on its USP. Of course, it doesn’t help if your product is proven to be rather less than what it was advertised as on national television, as the CEO of Sonim found out when a BBC reporter took him at his word.

Offer your guarantees, Mr Sonim man, it means nothing when your supposedly unbreakable phone is nixed by a few taps on the side of a fish tank. Apparently you can hammer nails with it, but anything with a larger surface area will render it an expensive paperweight:

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