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Monday, May 4, 2015

Best of SFIFF: Douglas Trumbull's State of Cinema Address

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • San Francisco International Film Festival.

On Sunday, May 3, Douglas Trumbull gave the mostly-annual State of Cinema Address at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival. I say "mostly" because there wasn't one last year, for whatever reason; perhaps it's because everyone was still recovering from Steven Soderbergh's now-legendary 2013 speech in which he solidly eviscerated the studio system. Trumbull played a couple clips from Soderbergh's speech (the entirety of which you can read or watch at your leisure, and you should), but this year's speech went in a different, more gloriously gear-headed direction.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Uber Goes Kozmo?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 5:01 PM


If you haven’t heeded the warnings that the tech bubble is in fact a very bloated bubble, tumescent with a toxic gas that will kill all of Silicon Valley’s unicorns, well, here’s some proof that it’s basically 1999 all over again.

Uber is planning a delivery program. It’s arguably not entirely different from Amazon Prime or Google Express, but with overtones of luxury that harken back to the days of (which was the toast of my dorm at NYU). It differs from Kozmo in that delivery is not free, of course. Ride-sharing won't lead to merch-sharing, people.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Startup Culture Can't Get More Frivolous Than Tittygram

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Just when you thought start-ups couldn’t get any more frivolous than giving awards to a housekeeping app that organizes your other housekeeping apps, they throw some rank sexism into the mix. For $9.95, a Moscow-based company called Tittygram will send a buxom woman with a message written across her breasts. (A $29.95 “business” version includes the model of your choice and a keepsake hi-res photo without a watermark.)

Although the video doesn’t make it explicit, you aren’t restricted to Cyrillic script, but do mind that 35-character limit. (Keeping things to one-quarter of a tweet sounds like a guarantee that only the raunchiest of remarks will ever get sent, so if you wanted to send your significant other the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, rent a skywriter.)

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two New Apps Redefine San Francisco Audio Tours

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  • Courtesy Jake Stimpson, Flickr Creative Commons

Walking the streets of San Francisco with headphones in your ears may seem like the perfect way to shut out your surroundings – but two new audio tour apps would have you do just the opposite. Guidekick and Detour, both only a few months old, are pushing the boundaries of what it means to take a stroll through the city. The former uses audio content and 3-D maps to bring San Francisco’s historic sites to life, while the latter guides listeners through neighborhoods via elegantly produced podcasts. According to the creatives behind the two apps, an audio tour revolution is on the horizon – and San Francisco is the testing ground.

For Mark Paddon, Guidekick’s CEO, it all started thousands of miles from home. On a trip to Machu Picchu, the Pacifica native and his friends realized that their exploration of the ruins lacked historical accompaniment. They wanted to be “teleported back in time,” Paddon says, in order to better understand the site's history. There could be an app for that, they decided – and they could create it.

So they returned to their Bay Area base and began an experiment in teleportation. “We want to recreate how San Francisco’s historic sites were in their golden age,” says Paddon. His vision comes across most clearly in Guidekick’s tour of the Sutro Baths, where a combination of storytelling, music, and 3-D maps transforms the weathered stones and stagnant pools into the crowded 19th-century bathhouse. Paddon is working on tours of Union Square, the Ferry Building, and Fisherman’s Wharf – tourist attractions, to be sure, but he sees Guidekick as more than just fanny pack entertainment. “The most rewarding thing is when locals who have been to these places before experience it in a new and transformative way,” he says. “We have plans to expand, but we definitely want to nail it here in San Francisco.”

Ben Adair, Detour’s Head of Content, is similarly convinced of San Francisco’s auditory promise: “It’s a walking city, and it’s small enough not to be completely overwhelming,” he says. Detour also produces audio stories, but in place of 3-D maps, Detour’s visual component is the listener’s surroundings – the stories reference specific buildings and shops at the precise time a pedestrian encounters them. While Guidekick explores San Francisco’s historic sites, Detour has listeners wandering all over the city, with tours centered around themes (trash, architecture), neighborhoods (the Tenderloin), and epochs (The Beat Generation). Veteran audio-journalists from shows like This American Life and Planet Money produce Detour's content, which aims to take podcasting to another level. “Podcasts do a really good job of explaining,” Adair says. “Our storytelling adds another dimension, which is exploration. We consider this a new medium for storytelling.”

Does this mean future urban wanderers will spend their time hunched over their phones? No, says Adair. Like Guidekick's Paddon, he hopes the audio stories will provide a new way for San Franciscans to experience their city.

“The goal isn’t just entertainment," Adair says. "It’s understanding.”
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hometown Glory: A Look Back at the Year in Documentary Film

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 7:55 AM

Let the cameras roll. - SHUTTERSTOCK/WELCOMIA
The Bay Area has served as backdrop to some of the most iconic films in history. (Think Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Mrs. Doubtfire and Vertigo.) But as the year comes to a close, we wanted to note the wonderful documentary films that were produced in the Bay Area and hit theaters in 2014. 

See also: Year in Film: 2014's Finest, Strangest, and Most Nonexistent Movies 

The subject matters explored by these filmmakers range from civil rights issues abroad (Alex & Ali) and at home (Documented), inside looks into the beautiful minds of the young (The Internet's Own Boy) and the old (The Genius of Marian) and a kaleidoscopic history lesson of the modern age phenomenon known as the teenager (Teenage). 

SF Weekly
caught up with these Bay Area filmmakers throughout the year and discussed everything from inspiration to desperation and the fierce dedication needed in order to tell those personal yet universal stories that matter most.

Q&As embedded in the titles below. 

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tired of Snarky Bartenders? Let Robots Serve You Drinks

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM


What makes a good cocktail? Fresh ingredients, quality booze, a semi-autonomous artificial agent guided by electronic circuitry? At BarBot 13, the annual festival of cocktail robotics and mechanical socializing, you can find out yourself as you're served drinks by robot bartenders, some of which are not only capable of measuring vermouth, but are also programmed with snarky commentary.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big Tech Companies Stand Up for Gay Marriage

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 11:37 AM


The Snitch told you yesterday about the swath of Republicans changing their tune on same-sex marriage -- notably Hewlett-Packard CEO and former CA Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Jon Huntsman, and senior officials from the Reagan and George W. Bush Administrations. But the GOP isn't the only group standing up for gay rights. Hundreds of Silicon Valley tech companies also filed with the Supreme Court in support of gay marriage, arguing that Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) force them to treat employees unequally.

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Video of the Day: Jaron Lanier, Author and Maestro of Rare and Eclectic Instruments

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:30 AM


Re: our integration with machines, Jaron Lanier is one of the Big Idea Guys. He was talking virtual reality back when it was more like virtual virtual reality. Fascinated by how the Internet affects everything from business to consciousness to business-consciousness, Lanier is also known around the way as a maestro of rare and eclectic instruments; according to an SF Weekly story from February 2012, he has maybe hundreds in his house -- more than he can count, anyway.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New App "Bang with Friends" Tries to Turn Facebook into Grindr

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 10:30 AM


Tired of playing Words with Friends while your genitals just sit there like a chump? Well, three twentysomething California guys have your back. Or rather, your front. The trio, who are anonymous, created a hookup app called Bang with Friends, which takes your Facebook friend list and turns it into a friends-with-benefits list.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Talking Shit About Your Job Online Is Now Protected Speech

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM


Earlier today, our sister blog the Snitch reported that we don't have to invite our bosses to happy hour, and now we have even more good news for those who talk shit about their jobs/coworkers/bosses (i.e. every goddamn one of you). The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a recent ruling that says employees can express their opinions on social media channels without fear of getting fired. According to the New York Times, the NLRB "says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether the discussion takes place at the office or on Facebook."

But before you go Tweeting to your heart's content about how your boss is a douchecanoe, there are a few caveats.

See Also: The Top Professions that Attract Psychopaths
How To Not Offend People on Twitter

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