I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m kind of a sucker for cool stuff. I like nifty gadgets, quirky decoration pieces, nice clothes (and shoes!), good books, and fun games.
In this series of weekly posts, I share whatever currently has my fancy. Maybe some of it will catch yours as well!
VIDEO OF THE WEEK:
FOLLOW THE FROG
I love clever marketing and this video is one of the better pieces I’ve seen in a while. A brilliant way to raise eco-awareness and introduce an easy way to “do something about it” (kinda…but that’s not the point here, haha).
DAVID BROWN SPEEDBACK GT
Holy crap this is a cool car.
The Speedback GT has the spirit of early British GTs (with a striking resemblance to Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5) but the performance and trappings of a modern luxury vehicle. Its handcrafted, all-alluminum body sits on a state-of-the-art chassis and houses a supercharged 5.0 V8 engine pumping out 500 horsepower, and inside you’ll find beautiful touches fit for the ideal touring car: a spacious luggage area, hidden picnic seat, and sumptuous leather and wood throughout.
YONANAS FRUIT ICE CREAM MAKER
If you love ice cream, you’ll really love this thing. Yonanas turns frozen fruit and other flavorings into a delicious, healthy soft-serve treat.
The unit combines frozen bananas and any additional fruit or chocolate and instantly churns the ingredients to produce a treat with the texture of frozen yogurt or soft-serve ice cream, but without the additional fat, sugar, or preservatives.
DAS KEYBOARD MECHANICAL KEYBOARD
If you type on a computer all day and don’t have a good mechanical keyboard, you’re missing out. It can dramatically increase your typing speed and accuracy.
Don’t believe me? I understand. I didn’t get it at first, either. Mechanical keyboards look like clunky throwbacks to first-era typewriters. But that’s the point, actually.
You see, early typewriters were actually the product of extensive research into keyboard ergonomics, and many of the lessons learned about optimizing typing speed and accuracy have been forgotten by modern keyboard manufacturers. Simply put, most modern keyboards suck for typing purposes.
Well, mechanical keyboard manufacturers like Das Keyboard are keeping the art of keyboard optimization alive. Their keyboards are engineered with heavy typing in mind, and literally every detail is purposeful: key cap shape, size, spacing, and pressure, the tactile feedback, the flat, tilt-free angle, and more.
As I mentioned earlier, since I’ve made the switch I’ve seen a dramatic increase in both my typing speed and accuracy (and especially the latter).
HANNIBAL ROME VS. CARTHAGE
If you’re looking for a great two-player competitive war game, and if like card-driven games, then you will love this game.
Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage is set during the Second Punic War in which Hannibal faced off with the Roman Republic. Players use strategic-level cards for multiple purposes: moving generals, levying new troops/reinforcing existing armies, gaining political control of the provinces involved in the war, and generating historical events.
A second set of cards is used to determine the winner in battles. Ultimately both players seek victory by dominating both fronts: military and political. While military might plays an important role in winning, it isn’t the only factor. The political side of the game is also very important. You can systematically undermine and hamstring your opponent by causing him to lose political influence among his peoples, and that’s actually one of the reason you fight battles (to not just kill soldiers but strike political blows).
The game has a nice historical flavor to. The Romans have naval supremacy, and this is indicated by the Carthaginians having to roll a die every time they move by sea. Syracuse’s revolt can be caused by a card in the deck. The change of Roman consuls every round represents Rome being ruled by a Senate. And of course the Carthaginians have elephants!
CAVEAT: The rules are a bit heavy for a novice board gamer. There are many conditional rules that handle special situations and occurrences. While I like the layer of complexity this adds, it does make the game harder to learn. That being said, it’s not the toughest war game that I’ve played.
Hannibal Rome vs Carthage has been often hailed as one of the best–if not THE best–card-driven war game ever made, and for good reason. It’s an outstanding game.
BOOK OF THE WEEK:
I’m a big believer in the necessity of creativity in today’s work world, both at a personal and organizational level, regardless of career or industry. Marketplaces are getting more and more challenging, and success is hinging more and more on innovation, not conformity with the norms.
How do you systematically be more creative, though? Can it even be done? Or is solely at the whims of the Muse?
According to Linkner, anyone can learn to be more creative and use that creativity in work and life to achieve higher levels of success. I agree, and I found his “system” of doing it, which boils down to Define, Prepare, Discover, Ignite, and Launch simple, intuitive, and practical.
Read this book, put it to use in overcoming challenges you face in work or just in life in general, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easily you can generate a variety of valuable, useful solutions.
MOVIE OF THE WEEK:
I was once really into poker, and this was the movie that started the obsession. Many people not interested in gambling pass it over, but you do not have to like the game to like the movie.
It tells the story of Mike McDermott, who lost his bankroll in a high-stakes card game with an underground card shark, and who gave up gambling for law school as a result (and swore to his toe-the-line girlfriend he’ll never play cards again). But all that changes when his best friend gets out of prison, back into the card rooms, and into trouble with the same guy that cleaned Mike out. Mike’s loyalty as a friend and love of the game pulls him back to the tables, but if he loses this time, he won’t just lose his money–his entire life will collapse.
I know, synopses never sound that great (I’m a fitness writer, not a movie critic, haha).
That said, one of the things that makes this movie great is the casting and acting: Matt Damon reprises a Good Will Hunting-esque role, Ed Norton plays the perfect degenerate that you just love to hate, and John Malkovich basically steals the show with his phenomenal performance. Even the more “backseat” roles are played by the likes of John Turturro and Martin Landau.
Another aspect of the movie that I really liked is the richness and subtlety of the writing. Surprisingly, it actually makes you think as it isn’t just a succession of poker things happening, but a well-planned thematic exploration of loyalty, integrity, and morality.