Captain America: Civil War… why should you care?

Attention: Avengers 2.5 is being disguised as another movie – Captain America: Civil War! Do not be fooled because you don’t see the word “Avengers” in the title. Fact is, more Avengers will be in this movie than any other Avengers movie. (Ok, I’ve said “Avengers” far too many times in one paragraph already…)

So why should you watch it?

The first reason is simple enough. It is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I explained about that on a previous blog post, but essentially, the movie is the first episode of sorts in season (or phase) 3 of the MCU. It is a “season premiere” really, so one would expect it to start with a bang.

The second reason is where I enter the geek realm and give a bit of backstory. #SorryNotSorry

If you can’t be bothered to read it (too long; didn’t read) here you are:
TL;DR – the comic book story it is adapted from is outstanding and critically acclaimed.

Now you lazy souls can jump to the end.

Those of you who are obviously smarter and more cultured, continue on.

Background
Civil War in the comic books was a story arc that spanned all of the Marvel characters – Iron Man, Daredevil, Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and any others you could think of. Reason being, for a while the government and the public had been growing tired of super-powered beings smashing through property, civilian casualties and more – with no accountability. They are all essentially vigilantes officially.

Eventually there was one incident that broke the camel’s back. In a reality show, a group of newbie superheroes faced off against some bad guys including a character called Nitro. An accident destroyed several buildings, including a school. Lots of children died. The superhero registration act then got pushed through the Senate meaning every hero had to be registered with the government – reveal your identity to them, train and work officially for SHIELD.

Of course for several people including Spider-Man and Daredevil, this caused a problem. Revealing their secret identity could result in their loved ones getting hurt. The heroes took sides, with Iron Man leading the registration act with a firm belief in accountability to prevent catastrophe, and Captain America fighting for the freedom of powered people to do the right thing without being governed by potentially corrupt government.

It was a unique story causing friendships and marriages to break down, Spidey revealing his identity causing problems for his family and Aunt May, switching sides, betrayal… Problem was, there was no real bad guy, you could see the points raised by both sides of the camp.

Aaand we’re back
I won’t go into the story more than that, the comics are definitely worth a read. But the MCU adaptation is obviously different from the comics in some ways because they have been following a different storyline. The teams however, have been revealed!

In the blue corner…

Captain America’s team consists of Ant Man (sitting on Hawkeye’s shoulder), Hawkeye, Sharon Carter (former SHIELD agent from the last Captain America movie), Falcon and The Winter Soldier (who was actually a bad guy in Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

In the red corner…

Iron Man’s more technically oriented team is War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther (making his debut before his individual movie), and The Vision. Wow, three black people in this team…

Someone not yet mentioned, but definitely is cast in the movie, is Spider-Man. Which is the third reason why you should care about this movie. Finally, after an agreed reboot between Marvel and Sony, Spider-Man will get to interact with the other Avengers in the MCU.

Going on powers alone, it appears that Iron Man’s team have it firmly in the bag. But Cap’s team are all former military or assassins (besides Ant Man who is dangerous for a different reason). It should make for a visually interesting match up!

If you are already in the know, spread the word. The next Captain America movie is an Avengers movie in disguise!

So… any questions? Comment away.

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World Championships of Life

The World Athletics Championships are on!
… no? Any excitement here?
Never mind. Though not the most popular sport, there are a number of life lessons to be learned from the life of an athlete.

I myself have been deeply involved in athletics for a number of years – at one point internationally. I’m sure that athletes, or indeed other sports men would agree with me that the self-motivation, competitive edge and focus follows you to other areas of life. You want to achieve, and you want to be the best!

When most people think athletics these days, their mind goes to Usain Bolt – the fastest man over 100m ever.

In fact, there is a great blog post by an entrepreneur friend of mine, Sibel Suleyman, called The Startup Mindset using the phases of a 100m race to illustrate it.

In life we’d all like to be an Usain Bolt. Find what you’re good at, what you love, and be the best in the world at it. I could sit here and give you the usual work-hard-train-hard metaphors, or some deeper wax-on-wax-off advice…

…actually, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. But from a slightly different angle. It’s how life differs from athletics.

You are competing against yourself for the gold.

You see, in athletics you only really succeed if you’re on that podium at the end. No one cares about the guy who came fourth. Heck, most of the general population won’t recall the name of the guy or team who gets silver or bronze. Who were the Kenyan athletes chasing Mo Farah on his way to 10,000m gold yesterday? Can’t even see them in this picture…

Tell me, who won the bronze medal in the 100m at the last World Championships (2013)? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You were busy seeing who would win out of Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin. Even those who follow athletics will have a hard time remembering this.

(I’m not putting you out of your misery. You’ll have to look it up. Or ask Cyman.)

You can strive to be the best at whatever you are passionate about – whether it be cooking, blogging, teaching, creating, keeping fit, or even programming – and succeed when applying the same discipline athletes apply. We can all get the medal because there is not just one winner. We have our personal journeys, our own hurdles to overcome, our own distances to clear. You get to decide what your gold medal is.

Have you decided yours? How’s the training going?

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iPhones suck. (Take the bait. Click Me…)

Before half the internet reacts in outrage and much troll-age, I have come to make technical peace between Google and Apple – not war. This blog title is called click-bait. Designed to communicate with the inner troll in you, or the inner fanboy. It all depends on your point of view.

What I am actually going to address are a couple of common misconceptions
– that I hate Apple.
– that only iPhones play best with other Apple products.

To start with, I’d like to think I’m fairly tech-agnostic. I like using tech that plays well with other tech. Yes, I am a Google fan. But I judge by product, not by company. I mean, my first smartwatch was the Martian Smartwatch. One of the reasons I chose it because it simply works using Bluetooth – connecting with Android, iOS and BlackBerry phones.

Now I’m going to address the first misconception easily.

I own a Mac Mini. I love it.

Now that’s out of the way. You see, Apple make great products. I owned my first MacBook back in 2007 after using Windows/Ubuntu for years, and I never looked back. (Although I did replace my MacBook Pro a couple of years ago with my Chromebook, but that’s one for another blog post…)

Point is, I’ve had a Mac in one form or another for 8 years now. You can run open source (free) software on it, I can use it for programming, and for more creative exploits – music, art, movie-making. Usually, people think that if you have a Mac, you ought to have an iPhone. That is simply not the case.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to connect to a music player to synchronise my phone with my computer. Yes, I am talking about the beast that is iTunes – feature creep incarnate.

I own a Nexus 6 currently, which is a pure Android phone. Recently, I’ve stuck with the Nexus over the past few years due to its reliability. I plug my Android using a standard micro USB cable into my Mac and can simply access my files on my phone as if it my phone was a USB memory stick. All my contacts, photos et al are all available on the cloud anyway. I can access everything through my browser.

It’s gets better though. There is a great app called AirDroid, which allows you to access your phone wirelessly. It essentially gives you a web portal into your phone. You can download and upload files into your phone.

It’s very simple. Google and Apple products can work just fine together. Android plays nice with multiple operating systems – Windows, Mac, Linux. Whichever floats your boat. iPhone doesn’t have the same kind of interoperability, it’s more of a (deliberate) closed cage. That is not the case with a Mac however. Which is why I own a Mac, but do not own an iPhone.

If you were expecting an all out Android vs iPhone war, please by my guest and comment. Help yourselves to the ammunition available and begin the flame war.

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The Marvel, the Sony and the Fox

This post delves into the movie space, and I thought I’d start by explaining the following statement. Not all Marvel movies are Marvel’s movies.

Marvel Studios has been one of the most successful and emulated movie studios in recent years. But the general movie goer may not realise which movies are actually created by themselves, and which were created by other movie studios.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to explain in layman’s terms:

  • What the Marvel Cinematic Universe is.
  • Why it does not include Fantastic 4, or the X-Men.
  • Why the character Quicksilver appeared in X-Men and Avengers.

I’ve never been good at history, I’m terrible at remembering facts. But for some reason this bit of “useless” history stuck with me.

It all started when Marvel Comics weren’t doing well financially. So they started selling the licence to use their characters to movie studios. Sony took Spider-Man, and 20th Century Fox took a number of others including X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and all characters associated with them.

(Now before you jump the gun, I’m not referring to the recent Daredevil Netflix series, I’m talking about the forgettable Ben Affleck version in 2003).

It wasn’t long before Marvel thought they could do these movies themselves (and better). But they can only use the characters they haven’t licensed out to other studios. So newly named Marvel Studios released their first movie in 2008 – Iron Man.

Here’s a trick to recognise Marvel Studios movies – they always have their logo at the beginning animated with flipping comic book pages (not “flipping” as in the swear word, I mean… you get the idea) titled “Marvel Studios“. Not just “Marvel”, or “Marvel Knights” which just credits Marvel for creating the characters in the first place.

When Iron Man was released (to critical acclaim) it started a newly shared cinematic universe, dubbed the Marvel Cinematic Universe(or MCU). The long and short of it is that their movies will essentially be “episodes” in an overarching massive storyline. This began with the end credits scene of Iron Man, where Nick Fury indicates that Tony Stark was not the only superhero in the universe.

Just as it is with TV shows, they have “seasons” which they call “phases”. Phase 1 ended with Marvel’s The Avengers, and the next phase began with Iron Man 3 and ended with the recent release Ant Man. Phase 3 begins with Captain America: Civil War next year.

Confused yet? Let me help introduce more confusion.

There are now Marvel TV shows which are contained within the same MCU. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was the first one, and it generally ties in with movies that are released. Often, before a big movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Avengers: Age of Ultron, the events of Agents of SHIELD would lead into or explain part of the plot of the movies.

Given this is the case, their characters, the storylines of all of their movies are connected. You’ll see Tony Stark (Iron Man) appearing at the end of The Incredible Hulk. You’ll see his father, Howard Stark in Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger and Ant Man. And so on. Sometimes the plot in one movie would explain the motives behind characters in another movie.

This can make things rather complicated… comic books have the same problem sometimes as they operate the same way. But what Marvel Studios try to do, is make the movies self-contained enough such that anyone could enjoy them without needing to be up to date. But if you watch the “seasons” in the order released, you will get so much more. Just like watching an episode of 24 is nothing like watching a whole season.

Breathe.

So, back to Sony and Fox. Part of the deal of the characters they licensed, is that they have to continue making movies over a time period. As a result, some bad movies have been produced just so they keep the rights to continue making Spider-Man or X-Men movies.

Recently, Sony gave up the ghost. They eventually made a deal with Marvel Studios to reboot Spider-Man again and this time, he’ll be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU). Different actor and all – Tom Holland.

Yeah, I have no idea who this dude is either.

This means that he’ll be connected to the current storyline, he can meet the Avengers (and in fact will do in the next Captain America movie), and potentially even more exciting – other Avengers or MCU characters can appear in his individual movies.

Other characters whose rights have reverted back to Marvel Studios are: Daredevil, Punisher and Blade. This is why we have the recent Netflix Marvel Daredevil series which is part of the MCU storyline (and so has nothing to do with the 2003 Daredevil movie). Also it has been reported that season 2 of Marvel’s Daredevil will feature The Punisher as a villain.

As for the characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? They were seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, and then a different version in the MCU movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. The reason for this is that those characters are in a grey area in the comics – they were mutants (children of Magneto no less… though I hear things have changed as to their true parentage) and they were also Avengers at some point. So the licensing deal allows Marvel Studios to use those characters as long as they don’t mention mutants at all.

Now you realise of course that you probably have a lot of homework to catch up on, just to keep up to date with the MCU series, or phases. So here’s a quick run through of the Marvel Studios movies so far, as well as connected TV series.

  1. Iron Man
  2. The Incredible Hulk
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Thor
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger
  6. Marvel’s The Avengers
  7. Iron Man 3
  8. Agents of SHIELD (Season 1)
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy
  12. Agents of SHIELD (Season 2)
  13. Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix)
  14. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  15. Ant Man

Marvel has a futurist mindset.

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Do You Even Tech Your Workout Bro?

Wearable tech like FitBit, Food tracker apps like MyFitnessPal… we are increasingly invited to tech our workout with technology that promises to monitor our health, work out what we need to eat, and what exercises to do.

It can all be a bit too much – which one is correct? What works best for you? Which wrist monitor is more accurate? Which app takes into account my lifestyle?

I am not writing to help you out with this at all. I’m here to add to your problem of choice.

Don’t worry, I will cover wearable technology at some point.

Earlier in the week, I’ve been slaving away at creating a mobile web app for Asgard Fit. They found my gig on Fiverr.com. I use the term “slaving away” not because it was a bad project, but because that’s what we software developers do for any project!

On the contrary, it was great to combine 2 of my interests: technology and fitness. *Asgard Fit* have a Nutrition Template spreadsheet which can be purchased from their website. Using information you enter from your vital statistics to your lifestyle, it calculates the amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat you should ideally be taking on your rest and training days.

Now, I don’t have time for spreadsheets. I’m betting I’m not alone in that. So my task was to “appify” it into something people can access on their mobile browser.

Although I have my own ways of eating which involves Carb Backloading, I’ve been intrigued by the complex excel formulas and calculations that go into creating something like this. From it’s calculations for me, if I were not doing Carb Backloading, I believe the figures are sound – and actually correlates to a lot of principles of Carb Backloading.

Give it a try yourself, I think you’ll find it useful. There is more to come to the app which I am most likely to be involved with. I am certainly going to use it as a guide!

Now if I could just get back to workout consistency again…

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Aim for the Absurd

How do you react when you see something truly Outstanding? Like an amazing dance performance. Or a sporting feat. Perhaps a rags to riches story or, dare I say, maybe even something fictional like a movie? Do you…

  1. Marvel at the spectacle in rapturous applause and adoration.
  2. Join the crowd in mass hysteria.
  3. Think to yourself… “I could do that”. No matter how absurd it seems.

I am definitely the third guy. Now I’m not saying that every amazing thing I see, I aim try to emulate. There are only 24 hours in a day. (An extra 40 minutes if you’re on our neighbouring planet). But if I feel strongly enough about it, all excuses go out the window. That’s why I created the Cyman Digital Butler. I have read about and noticed people who fix their eyes on a seemingly crazy goal. Crazy because the person in question either doesn’t have the resources, time, or the right qualifications.

They refuse to let any barrier to be… a barrier
(Important highlighted clever phrase fail)

The barriers I’ve listed, you have probably heard about before. It could be your parents who have come from very humble circumstances, perhaps little access to education, having to raise you, perhaps on their own. And yet achieving so much in their own professional careers. Perhaps you think of celebrities doing things that are really not in their skillset (Insert your own examples in the comments). Or maybe the entrepreneur Chris Gardner who was portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Pursuit of Happiness.

But when I say “Aim for the Absurd” (roll credits) I mean truly ridiculous. Like, I don’t know, watching some science fiction in a movie and deciding it must be replicated. What drove me to create Cyman was watching a particular scenes from the Iron Man movies where the charismatic genius entrepreneur, Tony Stark interacts with JARVIS – a voice in his machines which runs his house, his Iron Man armour and his devices.

Now I had no experience with artificial intelligence. Heck, even the programming language that Cyman was written in – I learned that as I went along – I had no experience programming in that language before. The kind of personality that the fictional JARVIS displayed, politeness with a teaspoonful of sarcasm, was something I had not seen and still do not see in current voice assistants like Siri, OK Google, or Microsoft Cortana. In general, I love the technical prowess and genius shown in the fictional Tony Stark and arguably, our real life version – Elon Musk.

By now you have figured out that this whole post was essentially a plug for my Cyman Digital Butler (available on Google Play and the Chrome Store now rated PEGI 3 out now) … but I’m allowed as it’s my first official post.

So there.

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Mark 1 Post: New Beginnings

There are too many places I post all kinds of things these days, for whoever will listen. Generally they are related to technology, my own Cyman Digital Butler app, movies, the geeky world of comic books, music, fitness, and motivation. Do read the About Me section for an idea of what I’m about and what motivates me.

A number of people recently have pushed me in the direction of writing a blog – with the promise that they would follow.

These people should know their names were taken down, and I expect their names to appear in my subscribers list within the week.

I’m just kidding.

Sort of.

No, no I’m not really.

So all you who +1 my posts on Google+, or like my Instagram or Facebook. This will be the home for a majority of more in depth thoughts.

I have tried this before, on another blog… and I earned myself a free Chromebook (thank you Google!) So y’know, if I blog the right things, perhaps I’ll earn myself a new car. Audi TT perhaps? R8? Are the relevant people listening?

Without further ado, let’s get on with the first post…

… which was this. Guess I’ve bought myself a week or so to release the next post.

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Test piloting the future