“Start as you mean to go on.”

The mantra of many, come January 1st. If this post is anything to go by, my prospects this year look relatively bleak already, and this is something I’ve been working on for the last three weeks. Thankfully I’m a single guy, or I’d be pretty stressed right now if a statement of a similar nature had just been uttered by my girlfriend!

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The Final Frontier

I’ve been following this on Engadget for a while now. The final frontier in establishing a 24/7 connected planet for us to inhabit, for however many years until the next Mayan deemed ‘end of the world’. 

Over the last few months, airlines have been working with the FCC to develop systems which will enable them to provide wireless internet access to passengers on board their jets; ultimately allowing you to FaceTime your Ma as your plane hits turbulence flying over the South of Spain. 

This may surprise you: I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this. 

The article I’ve linked to this entry mentions the same attitude. For many, and I imagine the frequent flying business types will agree with me, the few hours we spend airborne on our way somewhere are the only few hours we get to truly get away from it all. Purely because someone else has told us it’s not allowed. Personally, I get a great deal of enjoyment out of turning my phone off and having it purely as a music player for the duration. Despite the many hours of my life I spend using it to see what other people are doing on Facebook, post amateur shots of crap/my dog on Instagram or update people on the meaningless wonderings and day-to-day happenings of my life on Twitter, my phone actually gets on my tits!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I have developed an addiction to it, through this notion bestowed on us by the technology giants of the world, that we must be able to find out where our Ex is any given hour of the day, see what that colleague from school that we absolutely hated is saying now or reply to that email from your boss instantly. 

You want my honest opinion? I don’t think this is a great idea. Simultaneously, work has gone into allowing the cellular transmitters to be enabled on board, allowing the devices to use the same equipment which is available to them whilst on the ground. How that’s going to work is beyond me…I can’t get decent download speeds sitting in the back of my parents car on our way to Edinburgh to see the family; how is it going to work 40,000ft off the ground at 400MPH? Let’s go one step further. People worry about the air quality on board; the recycled air particles being shared with two or three hundred other human beings on board. Now imagine doing that with the fat guy in the seat next to you, who’s already encroaching on your personal space by several feet and who’s converation you now have full privilege of listening to? 

Doesn’t sound all that appealing any more, huh? 

And I haven’t even got to the best part yet: You want to use it? It’s most likely going to be extortionate! 

Lewis
x

…Christmas!

This post is over a week late. I’m sorry.

I had the house to myself last week. With my life being as rock-and-roll (not to mention not worth living, should I choose to throw a rager in my Mothers absence) as it is, I decided to take advantage of my solitude and temporary bachelor-ism to bounce around my house on a Friday night blasting Michael Bublé and Phil Spector’s respective Christmas albums, bottle of Crabbies ginger beer in my hand, and accomplish this:

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Yes, my Christmas tree matches the living room; there ain’t a thing traditional about it minus the star on top, which I had to stand on the sofa AND STILL pull the tree over to mount. My rant about small person problems the world-over still to come.

I was pretty chuffed, it got me some brownie points too.

Anyway, I’m just using this post as an excuse to try out the gallery feature on here. I’ve not used it before…if I like it, I might go back and change all my entries about Italy last year in an attempt to show off some kind of photographic prowess.

Lewis
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In spite of my usual postings about technology, ranting about people and their inappropriate use of social-media (if there can be such a thing), work, procrastination, wine and more technology, I wanted this post to be a little more along the lines of what others post; something thought provoking, and hopefully interesting.

As many of you know (shockingly, I didn’t) this year marked the 50th anniversary of the staple of British pop culture: James Bond. What better way to do it than with yet another box office smash. I must, however, tread carefully; this is not a review of the movie, nor is it a spoiler. Although if you haven’t seen it by now, you’d be as well to get a yellow badge to wear on your left lapel with the word ‘Philistine’ inked on it.

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Thought provoking and well written.

ipledgeafallegiance

Children of the Porn?

Porn. noun – creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire

One day I was working on my computer in class when I discovered that one of the websites that I often use for information and research was blocked by our school’s security system. Ever since our school became wired for the internet our school’s security system was often being modified by our computer systems supervisor in an attempt to keep students from accessing certain internet sites that were deemed inappropriate by either members of the Board of education or the supervisor himself. This however was one site that I had found very useful and I was becoming extremely frustrated at my no longer being allowed access.

Within a few minutes, a student who must have been sensing my frustration, came to my aid…

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As you all know (and I’m not going to state for a second time, my addiction to social networking…oops, just did) when I sit down to write something like this, it’s usually because I’ve been struck with “inspiration”; the bolt of lightning through my skull, that hits all too infrequently to allow me to indulge in my favourite past-time as often as I would like.

I’ve been nominated for The Liebster, and as such there is a protocol for such things which I must now follow. I do, however, thank my fellow blogger, Hazy, for nominating me, as it serves me another 10 Jigawatt jolt to my brain which allows me to sit at my machine and do what I enjoy most: write.

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So as you all know by now, and if not you’re about to find out, I’m a bit of a social-media mogul; Tumbling through a world of pressed-words, Books of Faces and incessant Twattering. I also enjoy posting photos of various events in my life, tinted with various vintage hue’s, on Instagram.

First off, I’m not much of a photographer. Sure I can take a photo of something at a jaunty angle, enhance it by removing the red from people’s eyes (or in my case, the stubborn smattering of acne I’ve suffered with since puberty) with iPhoto and shove it out there for the rest of the world to see, but that’s as far as my efforts really go. A mate got me into Instagram, saying he wanted me as a follower because his dream was to have one of his photo’s make the Popular Page.

He should know who he is, he recently changed his Handle to include the word ‘official’ like he’s some kind of celebrity… 😉

I enjoy it. I follow a myriad of famous people, celebrities and friends, who all post graphic evidence of their life achievements, day-to-day happenings and meals…

However, it also has to be one of the most self-indulgent, vain media platforms out there today. Sure I grant you that, as I sit on my flight to Amsterdam tapping this out on my phone, it’s pretty self-indulgent for me to expect folk to want to read this after I post it. However, I encourage you all to write a blog about my flaws. I assure you, you’d have plenty to write about!

I will point out now, that I love writing. I do this as a hobby; anyone who reads and has something to say about it is just a bonus. I welcome the feedback. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll break out on my own as a journalist and become as condescending, arrogant and wealthy as Piers Morgan; writing a column for an upper middle-class Sunday supplement. Without the phone hacking scandal of course. To get involved in anything like that, just for a tacky news story, would just be silly.

Instagram was developed to allow people to see your life through the lens of your iPhone. (Yes, it was originally developed only as an iOS app.) With the advent of Photo Stream, it also allowed users to share photos you take with your digital camera and import to your computer.

As with everything however (and Facebook and Twitter are no different) folk have taken it upon themselves to clog Instagram’s data centre with nothing but photos of themselves; cross-referencing them with an array of hash-tags hence ensuring maximum exposure to others equally as vain.

“This is me with my head to the left.” “This is me with my head to the right with my hand on my hip. #girl #blonde #pretty”

Gads… It really is sickening.

Those of you who know me personally, and follow me on Instagram, will have seen me make a similar attempt whilst at the gym a few weeks ago; targeting some of my satire at both those who check-in at the gym only to let those associated with them know they ‘work out,’ and those who perpetually fill my Instagram feed with photos of themselves.

Whilst waiting in the airport this morning, I read an interesting piece on the increase in web traffic seen on Instagram, during the recent US election. The service saw a growth of 2.5x it’s normal volume of uploads (some 120,000 images) from Americans, all sharing their experiences as part of the 2012 election; all under the banner of #USelection2012. Granted, some of them were stupid enough to post photo’s of their actual votes. Sadly, this was enough to render them null and void.

Allowing others to share your experiences and connect with each other from afar is what the Internet is about. Well, apart from that other use the Internet has; the unofficial reason most teenage boys and lonely men have for it. It’s not a place for us to constantly show our faces from a different angle, hoping that someone out there will give us the positive comment we’re all desperate to get once more; that will further inflate and prop-up our ego’s.

Instagram is a place designed to demonstrate creativity; to inspire. I mean, after all, if you’re going to post a selfie on the Internet, would you not rather it was for your friends enjoyment?
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Yes, I did in fact pull this face, snap a photo of it and iMessage it to two people, as part of a game we play each day. No there is not a pane of glass between myself and the camera. You can find some others, equally as misfortunate, on Instagram by searching on the hash-tag #instamackaill.

For more dry, nonsensical rumblings such as this, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr as @lth0ms0n.

The featured image at the top of this post was taken from the Instagram Tumblog. It is, sadly, not one of my own creation, but pretty damn cool all the same!

Lewis
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This really irks me. In fact, it just plain grinds my gears and causes me serious grief.

What am I on about?

Hash-Tagging. Something mis-used in social networking as frequently as the semi-colon in a Higher English exam. But as I’m typing this on my phone right now, please forgive me for shortening it to #tagging to save my, already RSI riddled, thumb joints.

#tagging is a feature of Twitter. It makes tweets searchable, thus allowing users of the platform to “Join the conversation.” – Twitter’s Tag-Line

Use a particular tag enough, and it begins to ‘trend.’ Thus allowing those who feel the need to join a conversation, but don’t know which to add their particular tuppence worth, can find a place to start. Such topics as the X Factor, tragic events and celebrities names are the usual culprits, and Twitter also uses your approximate location to filter out trending topics to your country or local area; keepin’ it real current!

Clicking on a persons use of a #tag in their tweet will initiate a search of their database for other 140 character long statements using the same tag. This way, people can see what others are saying about a particular event or occurrence.

This has given way to those who have decided clever games they can play, using this feature. Such tags as #stuffmymumsays or #putyourdickinamovie title have all made an appearance in my live feed over the last year and a half. Tagging can also be used to place a theme on your tweet, such as #awkward or #fml. That way, teenage boys everywhere can wince, moan, and share each others pain when they tweet about that time their Mum walked in on them during some ‘alone time.’

This, and this alone, is the purpose of #tagging. Nothing else.

Insert condescending Crabbies Bint…

A recent phenomena has developed however. It is a travesty, and a stop simply must be put to it.

Yes, you wont believe it, people are #tagging on…Facebook.

I feel your pain, Mark…

See his face? Let the poor guy catch a break; he’s had enough stress this year watching his share price plummet the day Facebook went public!

Why do people do this? I know; complete and utter technological ignorance. I face it daily, and that’s just with my Father trying to print his boarding passes the night before he leaves for West Africa. Every trip. Every evening I’m called to deal with something I’ve explained countless times before, only to find myself in exactly the same situation.

It’s not cool; it’s entirely pointless, and frankly it makes you look like a giant douche. We must unite against those in an attempt to end this, and return #tagging to the purpose for which it was intended, and to be enjoyed. What’s next? Are we to start a photo sharing platform to do nothing but take photo’s of ourselves with the #tag ‘#pretty’?

Oh wait, I forget, we already have something for that…

Without a shadow of a doubt, the most unintentionally SELF INDULGENT social network, on the planet

I’m in too fervent a rage to sign this with my normal stance. However, please reply with your thoughts!

I started this blogging thing over a year ago now. Well, actually, it’s been about a year and a half. I created my second WordPress site at the start of the summer last year. I didn’t really know why, all I knew was that I wanted to write; to get my thoughts down on something a little more concrete, than having them buzzing about and taking up valuable, and somewhat limited, space in my cranial cavity.

Insert your cheeky comments questioning the existence of anything between my ears here, now, please.

It became a dialogue of my trip to Italy last year; a record of my days activities in Rome and Venice. We did so much in a day, and I took many photo’s of crumbling bits of rock, other not so ancient buildings, statues, pizza’s and my BFF, that I really needed the time to sit each night and reflect on what I’d done each day; to try and cement it in my memories for as long as I could, because I was loving every minute of my time over there.

Shortly after returning home however, I soon realised that I had lost my inspiration: Italy. When I wasn’t wandering the narrow streets of Venice with Hannah, or enjoying a day  at Guardaland with her Italian family from Milan, I really had very little to talk about…

Then the unthinkable happened; my hero died. I came home from work, sat down, and spilled a few thousand words into my laptop faster than I’d ever completed a university assignment, and I’m not lying when I say that I spent far more time working and researching that than I’d spent on any similar report in the past.

After that, it became a dialogue of mine; a place for me to sit alone in my room with some music, perhaps a glass of wine or two, and clatter away at the keyboard on my Macbook to see what my fingers could produce tonight. Would it be worth publishing? Or would it be condemned to a lifetime of sitting in draft, with the author too ashamed to go back and read it for fear of realising just how bad it actually was?

Following my Steve jobs post however, which earned my blog the highest number views it’s ever had in it’s existence, I was stumped. It was the same worry faced by every artist out there: “How do I follow that?” 

It really did receive a great accolade from friends and family, which was of great comfort to me, not being the kind of person who can expose themselves and bear their soul to a room full of people. Granted, I’m not the type to hold back, particularly if something is affecting me negatively, but I always remain aware of the power others have to tear you down; to hurt you unnecessarily. It’s something I’m all to familiar with unfortunately, and it somewhat hinders my need to put myself out there, or try something new every once in a while.

My second post was formed, a pearl from a particularly irksome grain of sand: The X Factor.

Human Beings love routine. We are incapable of being truly random, and we crave regularity. Yes, there are some who would tell you how they despise the humdrum; that they could never live with a “9 to 5” routine. We all know deep down, no matter what we tell others, that we enjoy the security it brings us. Heath Ledger, as the Joker, once said that:

“Nobody panics, so long as everything goes according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying…introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.”

Hi…

Just incase you’d forgotten that face. A better example of one ‘only a mother would love’ you will not find. Anywhere. Not even mine…

Ever year, we sit down to watch Simon Cowell and his motley crew of ‘music industry experts’ find the next great UK singing talent, from anyone who feels the need to stand up in front of a packed stadium and show us what they’ve got. Be it good, extremely dire, or just plain average.

We love it. It’s a well known fact that the Brits love nothing more than a TV talent competition. We’ve been doing it for years, since ‘Opportunity Knocks’ from the 50’s to ‘New Faces’ in the 1980’s (responsible for Lenny Henry and Les Dennis) and through to the selection we have today. It’s been a staple of Saturday night entertainment for decades, all because we’re so dry we love nothing more than to sit and criticise those who get up in front of the cameras, regardless of talent. Secretly knowing we’d never be able to do any better but hurling insults at the TV or hiding behind cushions (for the really bad ones) all the same.

We forget one thing however. One thing that doesn’t enter the comfort of our living rooms, but the one thing that decides the continued production of our favourite talent shows: the ratings. TV shows thrive on them. Without good ratings, the show isn’t worth making, and it will quickly be canned in favour of something guaranteed to tickle the target audience the right way to generate them, and some publicity along the way.

Of late, this is all the current apple of the UK’s eye has been about. Week after week, year after year, we’ve watched some real talent get knocked out of that competition, because of some moron (or pair of morons, not naming any names) who gets kept in for their ‘entertainment value.’

Be serious for a minute. What was entertaining about Wagner, or Jedward? In all honesty?

Just over a year ago, I sat down and wrote something very similar, in which I attempted to link a day in my life where I found myself trapped inside my bedroom after breaking the inside door-handle (there was no one else in the house to let me out from the other side, which led to a very dramatic rescue mission which had me climbing out of my bedroom window, down a ladder, being held by my Grandma, who I’d had to call to come and let me out), blowing up yet another iron and totally smashing my iPhone (the most traumatic experience of them all really), with how I deserved a recording contract from ITV, because I felt that was a bad enough sob story. You can find it here.

That’s all we care about now; the acts which are going to make us laugh, cringe or cry the hardest. We’ve long since forgotten the true value of the show, in our callous need to elevate ourselves above those, to satisfy the various needs we have.

It’s sad.

Last night, however, the show reached a new low: openly demonstrating what a fix it really is.

No, sorry, let me re-phrase that, Louis Walsh simply highlighted to the entire of the UK that he really is a complete and utter moron. And it has nothing to do with the fact he’s Irish.

I created this Meme on my lunch break today. I’m a little proud of it, it must be said.

Introducing deadlock on that show was the worst thing ITV did. As was bringing Louis back the same year they sacked him. He’s an absolute moron; he’s never won the show, why does he keep being brought back year after year?

His latest fallacy was ousting Carolynne from the show in favour of the lesser talented Rylan. I’m going to say it: because he’s the token gay in the competition. I have absolutely no issue with that, but it’s just a further reminder that Britain, in it’s attempts to be upright and ‘British’ about everything, is letting it’s supposed core values get in the way of what’s fair. Sure, we need to show some diversity, but what place does it have when that gets in the way of pure talent? Surely talent is in place regardless of someones race or sexuality?

I personally will be boycotting the X Factor from now on. I say this every year; that it irritates me beyond belief, and that I refuse to watch it in support of everything it stands for. It’s no longer the talent search that it once was, and that saddens me. It’s about fights between the judges over each other’s interpretations of ‘rock week,’ or dramatic final-two sing-off’s between the act that shouldn’t be there and the act that should.

Louis Walsh should be shot. Fact. For failing to make the correct decision in the interests of talent; for failing to fulfil his position in the show as a judge, and for year after year failing to prove how he actually got there in the first place.

No one cares about Boyzone anymore Louis. That was the 90’s. Only one group could manage a come-back the way they did, just ask Gary; he did it, after all…

I do worry however. As I mentioned before, humans love nothing more than a routine to get them through their time on this rock. We all do, and I know I’m going to face some counter arguments to that effect. I myself can’t survive without structure; my mind needs it. With free time, I do nothing. In fact, I get more done in a hurried 5 minutes before an appointment than I do on a lazy Saturday afternoon with a list left on the hall table of things I’ve been asked to accomplish in the day, as a minimum…

Without this expectation of television entertainment every year that brings us into the festive season with a guaranteed theme tune, where would we end up? I’m not going to go as far as to say we’d all hit the bottle or loose all direction in our lives, but we’d certainly run out of things to talk about at the coffee stand in the office; as we spend time with friends on a Saturday evening with a take-away or as we relax after dinner on a Sunday night.

Lewis
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Leave me a comment or give me a like; you know the drill!

Before I begin, this is not an Elton John tribute. I hate his toupé, and his stumpy arms…

This last week has seen my church give birth to the next iteration of the iPhone. Not being an ‘S’ model I had mine on pre-order within 20 minutes of going on sale, but, having chose to have it delivered to the UPS deemed “remote” town of Westhill, I had to wait until Monday before I got my hands on it. Raging…

I love it; as you would all expect. It’s tall, slim, dark, sexy (not to mention chipped at the top having already dropped it a mere 24 hours after getting it). It’s everything I’d want in a woman but have to suffice with in a phone instead, until such time as my career makes me attractive enough to them; some time in my early 30’s.

So, clearly I have some waiting to do.

As always, it’s sparked controversy among the many Apple haters out there. I was asked if it was genuinely worth it, or if I had only bought it out of being such an “acolyte.”

Firstly, and even I have to admit this: between this and the last iteration, not all that much has changed. I came from an iPhone 4, so the dual core chip is a more than welcome addition. The taller screen is good also, but I am somewhat irritated by the fact it has UK support for LTE…provided you’re on 3 or Everything Everywhere (read Orange or T-Mobile). As I said before however, in this LTE game, it’s pretty tough to make one phone work on all the radio bands being used globally. The antenna configurations alone would occupy more space than this size zero really allows for. Let’s also remember that this is technically a “world phone”; it’s capable of communicating on both GSM and CDMA networks, and it will also roam between them, so if you buy a Verizon iPhone 5 in The States, you can stick an AT&T SIM in it and change your provider. (According to an article I read on Engadget earlier this week.)

Samsung are yet to do this… In fact, buy an S III on Verizon in The States, and you’re stuck with them. No interchangeable SIM card either. Sucks to be you…

Apple came under fire this last week however, regarding their announcement that they were ousting Google as their iOS Maps provider in favour of their own creation. People upgrading their phones to iOS 6 have noticed that locations do not come up correctly when searching; for instance when searching for the Washington Monument, the pin drops some 200 yards away from where it’s actually created; Westminster Abbey shows up as Westminister; and football stadiums show up in the most random locations at opposing ends of the country from where they’re supposed to be.

I tried to get photographic evidence of this but it appears they are already hard at work rectifying things.

Naturally, due to the size of Apple, this is hilarious. Just as we did with Microsoft in the nineties, the hecklers have dived on this in an attempt to demonstrate to the public that Apple has grown to be too big for its boots; that this marks the end of their success; that one day Android will take over.

What people fail to realise is that, as with any significant undertaking, some of the cracks simply don’t show until it’s out there, operating under business as usual.

What people have also failed to recognise is that Apple are capable of admitting to their mistakes, apologising, and listening to their customers feedback. Just over two years ago, Steve Jobs called a second press conference shortly after the launch of the iPhone 4, following the discovery on launch day of the issue with the antenna when gripped in a certain manner. He presented a case, indicating the relevant testing which had been performed on the handset, in-house; he demonstrated the effect the same handling of several other, similar handsets on the market produced the same effect, and he also explained what the company was going to do about it.

Tim Cook got up on stage this week, and did exactly the same thing. He admitted that Apple had failed, in its bid to deliver a product which gave its customers what they wanted:

“We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.”

No other company, particularly one as large or globally renowned as Apple, does this. I was told by a colleague once that the golden rule was never to apologise for mistakes; to gloss over them and carry on, because they’d eat you alive! It’s a sign of weakness, of acknowledgement of ones imperfections.

The full letter of apology can be found on Apple’s website, here  

I disagree with this. I think it takes a far bigger set of balls to apologise and admit failure, than it takes to side step it and act as though nothing happened. The same goes for the wronged party; it’s easy to bear a grudge and ignore the other persons efforts to rectify the issue.

Apple has apologised for many of the things which have inconvenienced their customers. For instance, last year when the iPhone 4S went on pre-order, the Apple Store crashed, and many were forced to abandon their attempts to grab one for launch day. The same happened when Apple launched the 27-inch iMac; supplier delays pushed waiting times for each unit up by several weeks.

Mistakes happen; we need to accept that. As clichéd as this sounds, it is what makes us human, after all. I apologise too often, and take responsibility for far too much, causing me far more stress than I should really endure in a day.

So, in answer to the question: Yes, it’s worth it. I needed a new phone, as my 16GB iPhone 4 was at full capacity. It does everything I want it to: impromptu night out photo’s; posting said impromptu photo’s to various social media locations; texting and email; music… I don’t need a phone where I can fanny about and screw up, I spend enough time during my day job fixing stuff; the last thing I need is for it to encroach on my personal life. Sure, the battery in this thing doesn’t last long enough to keep up with me (there were no other connotations meant by that statement), but at the end of the day, all I need it to do is keep me in contact with my best mate while she’s gallivanting abroad; doing her Masters, stumbling (lost) into Brussels on her way home from a night out. Granted, I use it for a lot more than that, but that is a basic requirement for any communications device I invest in. #fact

Lewis
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