Friday, 27 March 2020

Keep your mind occupied during the lock down: A special issue of Your Wealth

The Beginning

Your Wealth is a custom Enterprise briefing for people just like you: Executives, entrepreneurs and builders who know that time isn’t money, but that time and money are feedstock for the one thing that matters most in life: Your family, however you define it.

Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

THIS IS A SPECIAL ISSUE that we hope will help you keep your mind off of covid-19 while we all settle in to work, study, play, etc. from home. The issue will feature some choice media to consume during this semi-lockdown.

This is the second issue to drop in March after our podcast-themed issue on 6 March, which itself will be a big help to keep your mind engaged during house arrest.

Also worth perusing is our summer reading issue, to get an idea of the books we’re likely still reading because we’ve just been too busy to finish them. Maybe now we’ll get to.

We will resume our regular Your Wealth publication schedule from Friday, 3 April.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to editorial@enterprise.press.

The streaming wars

Streaming wars could reach Stalingrad-levels during social distancing: One industry that seems better poised to benefit from social distancing is the media. And when it comes to being stuck at home, never has the time for binge watching been more essential. The covid-19 crisis hit just a few months after the so-called streaming wars reached a crescendo, with Disney releasing its streaming platform on 12 November.

Read this to save hours on decision time: With so many streaming options available now competing heavily for our eyeballs, you might feel lucky that some of our writers are already used to going days on end working from home. We’ll take a dive into the streaming platforms out there, give them a review, with our recommendations for what’s on their menus. It’s worth noting, however, that there is no better way to kill time than spending more minutes deciding what to watch than actually watching. If you’re into that thrill, please skip this section.

We’re only recommending original programming: A significant portion of the content on these services is licenced from other channels and is syndicated, including Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Rick and Morty, and Mad Men. We are hence, only noting original programming by these streaming services.

Also, there’s also a good bet your favorite TV show or movie is on Youtube and its copyright holders have still not gotten it taken off. In these tough times, I think we can be forgiven for saying that these are fair game (though not fair use).

This could be the time to invest in a good VPN, as unfortunately many of these services are unavailable in Egypt. To unlock a lot of these streaming websites, friends of ours have recommended ExpressVPN, and SurfSHark. All of them have a free trial period.

Netflix: The concept of binge watching developed on this platform, and with it, a new way to consume television and film media. As more streaming platforms joined the fray, Netflix moved further away from its Blockbuster-style roots of offering licenced content, and expanded its content development with original shows and programming, while simultaneously grabbing global market share. With that, subscription will get you a seemingly endless lineup of content (both licenced and original), for all ages and specific to certain regions. By sheer size and diversity of content, in addition to availability, Netflix is our most recommended streaming service.

The downside: Also its size. In its bid to build up its stock of content, we think the platform may have sacrificed quality for quantity. The expanse of options is littered with shows that have become formulaic and we cannot remember the last good Netflix original show we saw (we’ll certainly try). Just look at the state of their comedy specials.

TV recommendations:

Movie recommendations:

HBO: While this is not yet a reality in Egypt, it will be very soon when HBO Max launches in May. Frankly, we’re secretly hoping social distancing continues until this launches, because this is the home that started premier television content and the era now dubbed “the golden age of television.” They started it with arguably the two best shows ever made: The Sopranos and The Wire. With those two, a formula was created: the primacy of writers and good writing, exploration of deep themes, and character-driven stories. The television anti-hero was created here. The sword and sandals and western genres were given new lives here. When it comes to quality of original content, they are the top of the line.

Downsides: Not available in Egypt yet and when it does, it will cost USD 15. The last two seasons of Game of Thrones.

TV recommendations (or the easiest list ever compiled):

Honorable mentions: Silicon Valley, True Detective (ignore season 2), Westworld (Season 1 only)

Prime Video: By becoming the embodiment of a futuristic dystopian megacorporation, Amazon entered very aggressively into the streaming business. It spurred a price war as it could afford to provide services globally for USD 3/month and bundled up with its Amazon Prime and e-commerce services. By going into the streaming game in 2013, the service has had time to build up its inventory of original programming. However, it does not compare to the diversity of Netflix, and its original work doesn’t match up to HBO’s vault. It may be worth buying bundled with Amazon Prime, but for content, not worth one penny more.

Noteworthy original content: The Man in the High Castle, The Boys, Jack Ryan (the Amazon original series, never any of the movies in the franchise), Bosch (featuring the character and world of the Michael Connelley novels)

Apple TV Plus: Not one to be left behind on a tech-related trend, Apple joined the fray pretty late in the game in 2019. While it launched before Disney Plus, it did not have the IP library that came with Disney. Furthermore, production on a number of originals had to be shelved, with the company announcing that it is delaying filming on a number of original shows thanks to covid-19. This streaming platform is the least impressive by both quantity and lack of original content.

Noteworthy original content: For All Mankind, The Morning Show.

Disney Plus: Another streaming service that owes its existence to a vast vault of original content, Disney Plus brings to bear the most valuable IP in entertainment history. In addition to a century’s worth of original Disney content, there’s the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the Star Wars franchise and the entire catalogue of 21 Century Fox movies and shows. For nostalgia points, it doesn’t get better than this. If you enjoyed it when you were 12 and younger, you will find it here. And if you are currently 12 or younger, you will not lack for movies and their television spin-offs.

Downsides: you can get fatigued by the nostalgia. This is the streaming version of the Hollywood machine of spin-offs, sequels, prequels and all the ways to milk a franchise to death. Also, not offered in Egypt yet.

We won’t even attempt to catalogue the original content created prior the launch of Disney Plus in November. We will note that the only original show ordered by the service that is worth noting is The Mandalorian.

Hulu: Since launching in 2010, this streaming service has relied extensively on content licensed from its distribution partners, including NBC, ABC and Fox programs. The platform is also in an awkward place, considering it’s 67% owned by Disney. Consequently, its original programming leaves much to be desired. It is also unavailable in Egypt without a for-pay VPN, so we recommend you skip over this one.

Noteworthy original content: The Handmaid's Tale

The Enterprise guide to watching movies

The Enterprise guide to watching movies during the lockdown: With all these streaming services, deciding on which movies to watch is a chore unto itself. Things get easy when you have a favorite genre. And even if you don’t, chances are you have a favorite film for each genre. We have an internal strategy for how to consume movies when we’ve exhausted our genre-based selections.

Franchises: When you are stuck for a potentially long time, you have to think in terms of sagas, and story lines that play out over the course of at least six hours. As Hollywood’s bread and butter, these usually try to grab audiences of all ages, so you will generally find plenty of franchise movies to watch as a family. Here’s our selection of franchises to watch, while stuck at home:

Directors: A marathon of your favorite directors is probably the best kind of marathon there is. The strategy almost always lands you hours deep into movies you will love. Here’s a lineup of some of our favorite directors and the movies they’ve done that we’d recommend.

Nostalgia: Then there are times when you just want to be reminded of the good old days. The movies of your childhood or adolescence, that come with a particular memory attached. Or maybe you’re just a hipster, who prefers the styles and sensibilities of times that were before you. Either way, here are recommendations for films from ‘70s, ‘80s, and 90’s that were considered classics of their times:

1970s films:

1980s films:

1990s films:

Awards: If you choose to buy into the illusion that awards matter and aren’t political, then this is the list for you. Don’t get us wrong. We may not buy into that notion, but many times, they do give out Oscars to films that deserve it. Our top 5 Academy Award winners for Best Film (who haven’t been named in any previous list in this issue) are:

Staying educated

Now that we’ve sufficiently zapped plenty of your brain cells to death (and may slightly have reduced productivity time during work hours) with entertainment, we feel its only responsible for us to counteract that with some knowledge. Time at home could be a chance for you to brush up on some skills, or learn a few more, or simply to build up your knowledge of useless trivia to impress people.

Documentaries: It’s not a secret that we at Enterprise love a good documentary. We featured one weekly back when we had a weekend edition. So, where did we find this repository of great documentaries? Well, you’re in luck, we break down our favorite haunts for finding good documentaries on the interwebs.

  • Top Documentary Films: This is probably our favorite online portal for documentaries. The site scours all the documentaries floating out there on various free streaming and video sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion and has these categorized by genre. Pick any topic, chances are you’ll find a documentary there.
  • Internet Archive: This is a phenomenal collection of free public domain movies, films, videos and television clips. Not only can you watch the documentaries online, you can download the clips and use them as well.
  • Snag Films: Snag Films is an online platform that allows independent filmmakers to upload their films as well providing resources for viewers who want to get involved in the causes portrayed in those films. The site also encourages visitors to “snag” the free films and embed them on their own sites.
  • PBS (Frontline and American Experience): Probably the best production house for documentaries. We have featured them several times in our documentary of the week feature and will likely continue to do so. The downside? The lack of access to their archives from Egypt. You’ll have to resort to any of the other ones we’ve listed here.
  • Streaming services: All the streaming services we noted above have documentaries and docu-series that are worth checking out. Netflix in particular has been much better at their documentaries than their other original content recently.
  • Youtube: If you’ve ever thought of something, chances are someone has already thought of it first, and uploaded something to Youtube on it. Despite being the home of some of the internet’s worst (namely, cat videos, memes and clips), Youtube doesn’t often get the credit it deserves for being educational.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Online learning platforms: This segment may not be too appealing if you have children, as you’ve probably been e-learned to death.

  • Skillshare: But if you’re finding yourself in the need to learn something that will be of absolutely no use and you are learning it out of boredom, then Skillshare is perfect for you. Now it is for subscription, so you may want to ask yourself is it worth spending money to learn origami.
  • Fender: That’s right, that Fender – the guys who make those guitars. They’re now offering three months of free guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons. Some of us here regret not having made the effort when we were young and had all the free time. But now, here we are.

But if you are serious about learning a marketable skill, then look no further than the Your Wealth issue last September on continuing education. There, we name-dropped some of the abundant online resources on offer. Leaders in the online learning field include Khan Academy, Lynda, Udemy, Udacity, edX and Coursera. You can check out these lists of the 24 best websites for learning new skills and 43 great free courses offered by Udemy, edX and others. There’s also the Open University, a longtime pioneer of the distance learning course, is now joined by others, including Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), MIT, Harvard and Stanford.

And if you want to catch up on some reading, then you are in luck. While there are a number of sites out there that offer free audio and ebooks, a number of places online have opened up during this crisis. Apple has made some of its ebooks and audiobooks inventory free online for US users to get them to stay at home. If you are a resident of New York, The New York Public Library has an app that allows anyone with a library card to "borrow" any of the 300,000 e-books in the collection. You can even look through the free ebooks section on Kindle, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. We want to give a shout out to the admins of the Internet Archive. In addition to the free documentaries, you have access to 1.4 mn free books. Also a shout out to Project Gutenberg and it’s library of over 61k free ebooks. We recommend Kobo Books and Google Play Books, which are both free, and Audible and Audiobooks, which are not. But since we don’t know how long we’re stuck here, it could be worth investing USD 15/month.

Social media

Back to brain cell killing mode, with our least favorite section. In order to cope with the social distancing many of us have had to distance ourselves from social media, just so we don’t get consumed by the doom and gloom of it all. Nonetheless, there is some light in this bleak corner of the internet. And as much we relish the opportunity for conducting your own mass psychology experiment with everyone we know talking about the same topic (constantly), social media does provide the opportunity to zone out.

Facebook: Some hero out there that goes by the name of Iván Luis Ugarte Heredia, shared a ridiculous amount of Tom and Jerry episodes. He has no idea how much he is loved.

Here are some of our favorite channels on Youtube:

Tik-Tok: Maybe learn the latest dance on there. There’s the corona dance sung to this club-banger of a tune by the government of Vietnam on how to stay sanitized during the outbreak.

Video Games

We can’t remember a time when gaming seemed more crucial to our mental health. So that’s why we took it upon ourselves to draw up a list of our favorite games while we sit here. We advocate a mix of open world and multiplayer games for console and hardcore strategy for PC. Bear in mind that plenty of the old games we used to love are now available for free online.

Console games:

PC games:

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2020 Enterprise Ventures LLC.