This morning’s irritation: my son and his friend are frantically trying to Facetime each other on their iPads, but the calls are coming to the iPhones of me and the other kid’s mom. As a result, the other mom and I are phoning each other thinking there’s some emergency. And no… the kids’ iPads are not logged into either of our iClouds, so there’s no good reason this is happening.
iCloud, a web-based backup that connects Apple devices, has killed Apple for me and many others. In March I’m giving my iPhone to one of my kids, and buying an Android. My nerdy friends rave about them. There are two reasons for my departure: a) The iPhone has not been improved consequentially in the last several years, and b) the iCloud implementation was the worst experience I’ve had with technology — and that surpasses computer viruses, crashed hard drives and being disregarded by cable and phone providers.
Saddleback leather founder Dave Munson is using YouTube to teach counterfeiters how to knock off his bags. The video is instructional, persuasive, sarcastic and funny. By showing how counterfeiters do and can save money (using lower quality leather, cheap stitching, inferior metal buckles), Saddleback manages to fortify its own high price point. The clip also communicates the company’s ethics and create a storybook villain out of faceless leather-bag counterfeiters.
The takeaway of the clip? If you’re considering making or buying a counterfeit bag, you’d better think not just about what you’ll get… but what it says about you.
My favorite quote (8 minutes in): “the hardware is where you can really make some money. What Saddleback uses is stainless steel 316. What you’re going to want to do is get some nickel plated stuff. So you can nickel plate plastic. You can nickel plate junk, pot medal. You can even nickel plate your crack pipe.”
Munson’s sometimes biting sarcasm is offset by his smile, enthusiasm for the quality of his leather, and a charming moment where he uses candy to lure kids into his plant… not for low-cost labor but for “take your children to work day.”
His advice to counterfeiters shows where they can cut corners that will make knockoffs look and feel great, even if they won’t last: “And you will end up saving more money than you will ever make with those gold fillings and jewelry that you get when you dig up those graves,” he says with a warm grin.
I’ve been a long-time fan of the company’s tagline: “They’ll fight over it when you’re dead.” And Dave uses more language and a non-salesy tone to build additional emotion around his craftwork — like the line “take this bag with you through life to hold all your memories.” May I add that this video has increased my longing for one of these Saddleback front pocket briefcase? It’s almost $600… so free to buy me one, mom or rich viewer.
And an added plus? In the coming months, what do you think people will find when they search counterfeit Saddleback? Maybe a video that makes them second guess their pursuit?
Amazon loves me. I’ll tell you how I know, and even show you the proof.
You see Amazon recently differentiated itself with the Kindle “mayday” button that allows it direct contact. This is a sharp contrast from Google, where getting a human is like requesting the algorithm behind organic search rankings.
Today I had my first human contact with Amazon, which has been steadily increasing its share of my disposable income since the late 1900s. In fact it’s pretty much my default store unless I’m in a hurry or buying milk.
So here’s how I met Garth (if indeed that’s his real name). On the advice of the desktop support dude at work, I decided to watch Romero’s “Land of the Dead.” Naturally it’s not available on Verizon Fios because it’s got more than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer.” As you may not know, Verizon only offers movies on-demand that have a 10% or lower score.
Netflix also doesn’t carry “Land of the Dead” in its lavish 10-movie collection. So that left Amazon Prime. And in a first, I decided to stream right on my laptop.
Microsoft Silverlight hijacked Chrome and Safari and gave me a permission error. And I mistakenly thought there was no way to watch Amazon videos using Flash (thought maybe there was an unholy bond between Amazon and Microsoft).
So I instant messaged Amazon and found Garth. Here’s our discussion. Isn’t he cool? He even acts like a human (see red) and reminds me that Amazon loves me.
Hear a baby crying in a stroller in NYC? May want to let that pass. Could be a devil baby that contorts itself and pukes. In this particular case, it may be a robot designed by the folks at Thinkmodo for another horror film promotion (remember the Carrie telekinetic prank in a NYC coffee shop?). This one is to promote “Devil’s Due,” and in about 24 hours it’s past 15 million views (1/16 update: 26 million views in 2 days). That, friends, is viral.
It’s “Devil Baby Attack” and it’s taking YouTube by storm. I’m probably most impressed by the way I learned about this. On a phone call with my mom this evening. I guess I’ll have to call her more often.
The prank is beautifully executed from beginning to end. We’re shocked. Then we see behind-scenes. No wasted shot.
Excellent job on “seeding” it. There’s no way it would have been seen this many times — so quickly — without a smart promotion of the clip itself (bloggers, journalists, etc).
Given the 22K comments, I’d say the majority of the views are real views. When videos are “gamed,” you see a really low number of comments. Rough math: 22K comments divided by 15 million views is .0015 percent of viewers commented. With more programatic stuff, you see a slightly better ratio. For instance a recent RWJ video got 200K views and 1,700 comments (.0085 percent).
I would love to see a bit more of the off camera laughs and the team behind it — It helps when the viewer has a chance to connect more with the creators. But it’s a horror film promo so I suppose you have to keep it somewhat dark and mysterious.
I’m glad we’re no longer concerned about making these appear non sponsored. The video’s end reveals it’s a promo. And if you’re gonna have a logo at the end, there’s no shame in providing a link to the movie site for Devil’s Due (www.devilsduemovie.com). This would drive traffic to the film site’s real trailers and almost invariably help convert more of these 15 million views into ticket-paying customers. Even better: give us a reason to hit the horror site. As long at the viral stunt is this good, we’ll forgive the plug at the end.
Finally, a note to Thinkmodo team: for the love of God people, I missed my invite to these productions. I’ll consult for free to see you guys pull the next one off. I’m one of YouTube’s most-viewed pranksters, an author of a book on viral video marketing, an advertising executive and a horror fan. And I can keep a secret. What else do you need?
Today I received an e-mail from a man named Rick Anthes who asked for a copy of “Penny Prank for Tollbooth Guy,” a prank video I made in 2006. Rick also wanted to let me know that the tollbooth collector in that prank video recently died of colon cancer. He sent me a link to the obituary of Brian C. Kintzel dated today (Jan. 11, 2014).
Rick said Brian liked the video, and that he was known for the patience he displayed in it. Rick added “he was my best friend, my confessor, a confident and a mentor. The little brother I never had, the big brother I wish I had.”
Then Rick shared some backstory I hadn’t known until now…
“At the time you made this clip, Brian was a regular Toll Collector, but he had already or was about to take a test for the Bridge Commission that might get him promoted to a Toll Corporal overseeing other collectors and assume the responsibility for the Bridge he worked on. This video was viewed by the Senior Staff of the Bridge Commission and brought before the board reviewing the candidates for the Corporal’s position. Senior Staff told the board this is the kind of individual you want representing the Bridge Commission and showed the clip. Without question, Brian was promoted. Your actions that day did what you had hoped for and quite a bit more that you may not have even considered at the time. You have to believe that we all have an influence over other people even when we don’t mean it nor when it isn’t contemplated.”
So… this is one of the nicest and most memorable e-mails about one of my videos. I’m sure Brian would have been promoted without the video, but I love that he got credit for it.
I also lost a dear friend over the holidays to colon cancer, so it also made me sad. Get your colonoscopy folks.
For the past month, adults everywhere have found their text messages going to their children’s iPads. And the kids, if they’re old enough, are sending messages to their friends, which in turn go to the parents’ iPhones. So guys like me are at the office getting bombarded with texts from kids, and our own texts aren’t going through.
These are the symptoms of Apple’s changes to iCloud synching, and I’m pretty sure Steve Jobs is turning in his grave. The tech folks at Cupertino should be glad he’s dead, but still fear his wrath in the afterlife.
Here’s how to fix your iCloud problem:
This is not caused by the fact that your kids are using your me.com or mac.com account to buy apps on their iPads. Giving them their own account for the iTunes and App stores will not solve your problem.
The beginning of both the problem and solution lies in the settings > iCloud menu. Your iPad and iPod devices are probably logged on to the same iCloud account you use for your iPhone. That means all your text messages go to them. And vice versa. This is something that changed in mid November 2013.
Once you’ve deleted your iCloud account from the iPod/iPad, you will need to set up another if they still plan to message other devices. This requires a credit card.
Next you need to grab their iPad/iPod and go to settings > message. Turn that off iMessage off. Good, now turn it on again. And off.
Theoretically you should be fine. But the bug makes iCloud link these devices even when you delete the account on them. The iPods, iPads and iPhones remember the iCloud account even after you delete them entirely… So you need to delete it. Turn it off. Turn it on.
Do you see the insanity? There’s no pattern here. You just need to keep turning iCloud and iMessage off and on and eventually you will get lucky. It’s a bug. Eventually you’ll do things in the correct sequence and it will resolve.
Once it seems to work, test it by sending a message from each device to a different phone. Then start shopping for a Samsung. This isn’t the beginning or end of Apple’s decline.
While you’re experiencing this, it’s best to scream like a maniac. Threaten never to buy another Apple device again. Tell your kids if they ever login to your iCloud account you’ll take away their pad. Belt out that you will not spend an entire Sunday being the damned tech support desk for the entire family. Tell your wife and kids that if they have another problem with their iPhone, iPad or iPod that they are forbidden from even TELLING you about the problem much less asking for your help.
And here’s the dirty little secret. Apple knows damned well that families share many Apple devices. And families were getting by quite fine without needing synchronized messaging between devices. Apple has allowed this bug to exist, primarily to irritate us into establishing separate iCloud accounts for each device. When we’ve set up separate accounts, we’re more likely to buy songs more than once. We’ll likely buy apps more than once. It’s a conspiracy, man. This is a deliberate attempt to squeeze out “lazy money” from loyal Apple customers, and I’m sure it’s working. This reminds me of when Apple decided to make it impossible for me to shop Audible from my phone. Really, you greedy dick?
I was on the fence about jumping to Android, and the past few weeks have knocked me right over. Apple has been “pulling a Blackberry” in the past few years — it’s been absolutely lazy about feature upgrades since iPhone 3 and 4. Siri? A fingerprint reader? Please. Meanwhile, the Samsung has overtaken iPhone in 2013… it’s awkwardly large, but that’s a sacrifice I’ll need to make.
Who’s up for an Apple exodus? Did the company ever make you feel like it gives a shit if you switch?
The idea, well executed, would have made for a wonderful viral clip. Unfortunately the reactions were not those of innocent bystanders in a candid-camera style viral video. They’re painfully fake reactions by actors who were cast for the production. I’ll take you through some moments that tip us off, but here’s an article that plunges into the Reddit conversations challenging the legitimacy of the clip. Amtrak and its producer, Rob Bliss creative, made this deception obvious by forgetting to remove its casting call for a video in Chicago’s Union Station with a “magical piano around Christmastime that seems to be truly alive.” One example provided in the notice was that an actor might “play ‘Chopsticks’ … and we turn it into a duet,” which is precisely what happens to a young girl as the video opens.
So I proclaim the Amtrak Magic Piano video the worst “viral” video attempt of 2013. The problem, of course, isn’t the fake piano. We kinda figured there wasn’t a magic piano. The problem is that the video itself is a fake candid-camera style clip. And instead of admitting it, Bliss and Amtrak are further burying evidence of the stunt by removing the casting information.
People love pranks for the wonderfully innocent reactions from strangers. It’s the basis of a lot of my most-viewed videos, and the basis of prank channels like Improv Everywhere. But people do not like to see fake reactions in a video that masquerades as a viral prank. And Reddit users don’t much it when companies get busted and then try to erase their tracks.
So what tips us off in the first place? Let’s do the scene by scene:
Girl playing chopsticks has almost no reaction at :28 seconds when the magical duet that occurs. Her “mother” at :37 seconds realizes her reaction is just as disingenuous so she covers her face.
At 1:00 a business man gets frustrated in convenience proximity of the piano. As the music becomes tense, his hand stays up in a token gesture of frustration. People don’t hold their hand up like that when they’re frustrated, and if they do it’s for a brief moment. He somewhat convincingly barks at the piano at 1:07, but that’s a much more severe reaction that would have occurred naturally. In real life, the guy would have almost subconsciously walked away from the noise to keep focused on his call.
At 1:25 a fat man approaches and almost convinces us he’s amused. But when he kicks into a manic blues dance at 1:44 we’re painfully aware that the moment is staged.
By the time two other musicians stumble upon the piano (a trumpet player and a harmonica player) I could no longer continue watching.
I scanned toward the end, and shouldn’t have been surprised to see Santa shooshing the piano at 3:33. I think that was actually the real Santa, though… not an actor.
Don’t fake a candid-camera style video.
If you decide to ignore lesson one, don’t post auditions publicly.
If you get busted for faking it, admit it. Don’t try to bury the evidence from Reddit folks. They’re smarter than that.
Don’t pretend it’s not sponsored… acknowledge Amtrak in the video itself.
Digiday writer Saya Weissman lists Bank of America in the top-5 brand fails on Twitter, and I just had my own amusing experience with the bank. Today’s lesson for brands is simple: while it can’t hurt to integrate your customer service help desk with your social media efforts, you probably shouldn’t have customer service reps manning the Twitter voice.
I’d characterize Bank of America’s Twitter voice as “well intentioned but lacking mental clarity.” But we can’t judge or condemn the bank! It’s kinda like an aging grandmother who may not be completely lucid, but she certainly means no harm.
Weissman’s gave BOA a “fail” because the bank provided a human but robotic response (“we’d be happy to review your account“) to tweets by activist Mark Hamilton (@darthmarkh). Hamilton, of course, wasn’t exactly keen to discuss an account. He had been tweeting about being chased away from a Bank of America by cops… it seems Hamilton had been drawing an anti-foreclosure message on the sidewalk.
My recent experience with the bank was almost as strange. Yesterday I saw that Bank of America television commercial (“Flowers“) featuring a dude bringing his gal a bouquet of flowers. Inexplicably the dude decides just one flower will do, so he leaves the rest in his cab.
My reaction to the ad wasn’t quite “I need to open a Bank of America account.” I was more thinking “I wonder what the next cab passenger thought when he found a bouquet of flowers in an otherwise empty cab?” So I tweeted: “I found the rest of the dude’s flowers in a cab. Can I keep them?” I didn’t expect a response, and frankly I was pleased to have one.
Naturally, my Tweet made absolutely no sense to anyone but me. That’s quite often my MO on Twitter. So we can’t blame Bank of America for asking for account details for clarity, right (“I’m not sure I understand the question… please send me a DM with more detail.” It’s just an odd response that sounds more SIRI than human. The logic appears to be: “when in doubt, a comment about our bank is probably an inquiry to discuss an account.” Hey that’s cool, though. The next time I have a problem with my account… I’ll just tweet something like: “increase my credit by $5K.”