What the flop?

With this year’s pre-Christmas set to be all about the battle of next-gen consoles, Microsoft have ended months of speculation by releasing pretty comprehensive detailing of their Xbox Series X machine’s specs via their own news site. As confirmed by Xbox chief Phil Spencer, the devices [bear with us here] AMD’s Zen 2 CPU microarchitecture and 12 teraflop, RDNA 2 graphics processing technology, promises, “cutting edge techniques resulting in higher frame rates, larger, more sophisticated game worlds, and an immersive experience unlike anything seen in console gaming.” 

With the Xbox One running a paltry 4 teraflops [we did not make this word up], it means that the console giants aren’t skimping on filling the boxes with future-facing tech. Expect Super Sonic Mario Tomb Raider Land to look better than ever!

On your marks...

Tokyo 2020 unveils first ever animated pictograms used in Olympics’ history. The 73 kinetic icons designed by Masaaki Hiromura and animated by Kota Iguchi each show their sport in motion, representing 22 Paralympic sports and 33 Olympic sports.

There are 23 pictograms representing 22 Paralympic sports and 50 representing 33 Olympic sports, each designed to “subtly communicate the characteristics and athleticism of each sport, as well as artistically highlight the dynamism of the athletes,” say the organisers in a statement. Some of the highlights of the animations are explored more closely in a short film released by the committee, such as the bow being drawn by an archery competitor, a ball being slam dunked by a basketball player, or a standing split being performed by a gymnast. Each is created with the simplest graphic components, limbs and circular heads for the most part signifying athletes, along with the equipment of their sport, with added flourishes like the swoosh of a ball bringing energy to the short sequence. These can “recreate the three-dimensional movement of athletes in two dimensions,” say the organisers, “and are able to express more dynamic movements such as twists.”

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The GIF that keeps on giving

Apart from causing the occasional issue when it comes to pronunciation [it's g as in 'golf', 'gadget' or 'get f*cked, it's NOT a soft g'], the only other problem GIFs throw up is exactly which one to use. Well, because we don't yet rely on it enough, Google has come to the rescue by introducing some new tools to help us navigate the world weird web of celebrity facial expressions. As reported this week on The Verge, the tools work by allowing you to search for a celebrity or fictional character in the drop-down box, which then displays the type of emotions or reactions that are most associated with them, or vice versa. So, if you are searching for a GIF of The Office's Michael Scott, you will most likely find GIFs associated with happiness. 

It's definitely going to be a helpful tool, but is it the best use of anyone's time?

More than words

It's no secret that we need to look after our mental health as much as our physical well-being, and while much is said and written about this topic, it's not always as simple as it should be to guard against negativity. One area which can sometimes still fan the flames of unnecessary mental distress is tabloid magazines and their salacious and occasionally exploitative stories. In an attempt to counter this, Wonderhood Studios creative team Ads and Phil teamed up with online movement Visual Diet to fight against "the negative impact of tabloid mags on mental health".

One tactic has been to create visual health warnings which they have been surreptitiously distributing around London newsagents and supermarkets, sticking the warnings "on publications seeking to exploit, shame and profit from mentally harmful content". They've garnered a positive response from many, with author and mental health advocate Matt Haig posting a positive message on Instagram. Additionally they have created an online petition asking for such stickers to be created for real and used where necessary, as well as allowing people to download PDF versions of the ones they have created, in case some guerrilla sticking appeals to others.