Friday, 26 July 2013

Gone for a Run

With the risk of you developing Alzheimer's decreased 60% and at least 10 calories being burnt every minute - why wouldn't you want to run? Over 1 billion pairs of running shoes being sold worldwide every year making running one of the most popular hobbies.

I enjoy running and have been on the cross country team for the last 4 years now so a few weeks ago I decided to go for a run. The stereotypical runner has tight leggings on, a funny coloured top, has headphones in and is sweating like a donut at a police station and most of the time they look quite into the sport and borderline professional however I wasn't sure whether I'd enjoy running or not so I wore a loose t-shirt, jogging bottoms (which I'd never wore before in my life) and a small backpack. The backpack was an inconvenience because it banged against my back and the straps rubbed however it carried my phone (if anyone urgently needed me, a waterproof so if it rained I wouldn't be snookered and a bottle of juice because I don't like the taste of water and it kept me hydrated.) Anyway, I planned my route beforehand, it was 9 miles long and went along the outskirts of town, and set off at 7:15 the following morning. This time was late enough to not bother other people in my house and early enough that people who I know wouldn't see me attempting to run.

Surprisingly, I only stopped a few times to get a drink and I managed to do the 9 miles in 1 hour and 27 minutes. I considered this quite good. I was also impressed that I hadn't pulled a muscle or injured myself despite falling down a bank. Unfortunately I then couldn't walk for the next fortnight however I didn't mind because I had enjoyed myself. So much in fact 4 weeks later ,when I had finally recovered, I went for another run.

Running is a sport which requires you to be in the right state of mind (determined) because unlike going to the gym or swimming you need to complete it until the end. You can't decide that you want to stop your run half way through; you'll be stuck and unable to get home so you need to be confident and determined that you can run all the way. In the gym or when swimming, as soon as you get tired you can just stop.

To conclude, I will probably go for another run. Maybe longer than 9 miles or maybe try and beat my personal best however I think I will definitely do it again. I, personally, find it refreshing and beneficial. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Microsoft One

Microsoft is the technology giant behind Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and XBOX. They also have other services including Outlook, Skype and Office however for this article I’m just going to focus on the first 3 I mentioned.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have extremely similar operating systems despite one of them being a smartphone OS and the other being a desktop OS. Even the XBOX One interface has similar features to Windows 8 (such as the snap feature, notifications and live tiles).

One Windows OS on a Nokia Lumia
I wonder if, in the future, we could be seeing Microsoft making one operating system for all of its devices. Of course there would be optimisations and customisations differing the 3 however they could be extremely similar – as they already are. If I was put in charge of this movement at Microsoft this is what I would do.

Windows Phone
I would start with the normal Windows 8 platform, get rid of desktop mode and make the Start screen flow from top to bottom (rather from left to right). The apps would be the Windows 8 apps however they would open in the smallest mode (so they would display like the small screen when you snap 2 apps together). I would also get rid of some of the many gestures as they will be hard to do on a small smartphone screen.

I would keep Windows 8 as it is, with desktop mode and all the gestures. It is still unable to make phone calls like a smartphone however that is because it is a desktop computer and, well, not a smartphone.
Future of XBOX?

Since the XBOX One will need to process up to 48 HD frames-per-second it will need a fast processor so it can handle the extreme graphics. I would remove desktop mode and instead of touch-screen and mouse gestures I would make them work on the XBOX controller.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A rant about cinemas!

Today is the first day of the Summer Holidays, the weather is fine and there is no school work that I need to do so this morning my friend and I decided to go to the Cinema to watch Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in ‘The Worlds End’ however the film is a 15. I didn’t think this would be a problem since my 15th birthday was in April and my friend turned 15 at the weekend (although he had looked 15 for a while now). Unfortunately it was a problem, we were asked for ID and we didn’t have any meaning we weren’t allowed in to see the film.

First, Passports take a lot of time and money to get so any parent trusting their teenage son/daughter to take it to the cinema with them is taking a risk. Plus, not everyone has a passport! And what other kind of photographic ID are you supposed to have when you are 15? A driver’s licence?

Secondly, the film certificates stating what age the film is suitable for should only be a recommendation – not a policy or law. If a 12 year old wants to go and see an 18 horror movie – let them. It is their fault when they poo themselves and can’t sleep on a night anymore!

Also, I’m guessing ‘The Worlds End’ is only a 15 because of the bad language and violence in the film. I’m a teenager for goodness sake – I hear worse language and more violence walking home from school!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Orange is the new Black Review

'Orange is the new Black' is another one of Netflix's popular original series's based on the book by Piper Kerman. It is based on a true story about a woman called Piper being sent to a woman's jail for 15 months for a crime she committed a long time ago.

The 13 episode series follows Piper and fellow inmates as they tackle problems from law breaking prison guards to having a 'prison wife'. The series is an addictive drama which also has some awkward comedy too.

The viewer finds out about back stories, how people cope in prison and how everyone's life changes. The friends and families of inmates are also deeply effected (especially Piper's fiancee Larry).

Not is all as it seems though as when Piper is sent to jail she meets a woman who she was madly in love with when she committed the crime, she also finds herself on the bad side of her Councillor and guards and she struggles to make friends because she doesn't think before she speaks.

No characters in the series are perfect, some aren't even close, however you come to love them all.

On June 27th Netflix announced that there would be a season 2 of the show - which is great news - however it is unclear where the writers and directors will take it next as it ended on a huge cliff hanger. It might become more dark and serious or they might attempt to keep it as it is (lighthearted with elements of comedy and drama).

Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone who likes a witty drama. I can tell you that it is addictive because it first aired on the 11th July and I've seen all the episodes already.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Interview with the Mayor and Mayoress of Darlington

Earlier this month I interviewed the Mayor and Mayoress of Darlington for the Wyvern TV. They talked about their roles, the town itself and what they enjoy.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Twitter Updates Direct Messaging

Earlier this week Twitter updated its iOS app and made a slight tweak to their website which only hardcore Twitterers will notice. I use Twitter on a daily hourly basis and one thing which annoys me the most is direct messaging on Twitter commonly known as 'DMs'.

For one, like a Tweet, you can only use 140 characters in your message which isn't enough if you are trying to tell a story. On the other hand, that is probably the point - so your friends don't witter on about themselves.

The biggest problem that direct messaging on Twitter has is it's sync issues. You can get a message on Facebook and it will come through on all of your devices such as your smartphone, PC and iPod Touch however once you have read that message on one of your devices it will be marked as read on all of your devices. This isn't the case with Twitter.
For the notification to disappear you needed to open the same message on all of your devices with the Twitter app. This is extremely annoying!

Luckily, with this new update that problem has been solved. It is nothing complex or confusing - it just syncs.  So once you've read a message on one device, it is marked as read on all of your devices. Simple. This has been a much needed update and because of this I might start direct messaging people again.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Is the PlayStation 4 actually cheaper than the XBOX One?

There are many great features on games that will soon be launching on the XBOX One however this is my favourite feature.

On Forza Motorsport 5 the way you play will be recorded, uploaded to the cloud and then processed. So if you cut corners, always drive on one side of the track and are always crashing it will be noted so then your friends can play with a simulated version of you whenever they want. The simulated you will have your same driving style and act online just like you would.

On a different note, if you are a hardcore gamer and are unsure which console to get out of the PS4 and the XBOX One I would look at all the advantages and disadvantages. Not just go for the cheaper option (PS4.)

The PlayStation 4 Eye
The XBOX One will cost £429 in the UK and for that you get the console itself and the new Kinnect. The PlayStation 4 however will cost £349 but the PlayStation 4 Eye (which is the equivalent to the Kinnect) will apparently cost an additional £80; unfortunately the exact price hasn't been confirmed yet. So although the PlayStation 4 may seem cheaper at first, that is only because you are not getting as much as the XBOX One.

In conclusion, I'm looking forward to the launch of the XBOX One and the PlayStation 4 just so I can see which one is most popular and what the consumer thinks of them both.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The teen obsession with Snapchat

Snapchat is an Android and iPhone app which allows users to send pictures and videos to their friends for the maximum of 10 seconds. The pictures can have 1 line of text overlaying them or colorful hand drawn scribbles but once you have seen the picture once it is gone forever never to be seen again. It is even deleted of the snapchat servers!
You can screenshot images however this takes great skill on some devices and if you do manage a notification will be sent to the person who sent the picture informing them that you've saved it.

So why are teenagers addicted to it? I'll admit that I hated this app when I first downloaded it. I hated the fact that once pictures has been seen they were gone forever and I just didn't see the point of sending just pictures of myself. So after only a couple of hours with the app I deleted it.
One week later I was forced to reinstall it again by my friends and now I'm addicted. I refresh my snapchat now almost as much as I refresh my Twitter. Most of the time I'm not in the mood to text people or even make small talk over Facebook Chat so I now send my friends a quick snapchat of my smiling face with a small message for them to read.

Obviously though, not every person will use Snapchat for the same short gentle messages like what I send. Snapchat processes 150 million images a day, some of them will be kind and friendly others might not be (if you get me.) Since pictures are gone and never to be seen again after less than 10 seconds some people have taken this opportunity to send pictures that will never be seen again after 10 seconds (if you get what I mean).

I think most teens will just use snapchat as a simple way to have simple conversations. Most teens like taking photos and most teens don't like writing much so this app has successfully combined those two things and snapchat now has millions of users. Snapchat was developed by university students so it is not a surprise they know what teenagers want out of an app. 2 years since launch and snapchat is bigger than it has ever been.

Under 13's can use a similar app made by the same people of snapchat. The app is called Snapkidz and is extremely similar to the original snapchat app. It allows children to take photos, add annotations and then save them onto their device (not send them).

Anyway, it is inevitable that adverts are going to get added to Snapchat in the near future however we are still waiting to learn how they are going to be displayed in the app and where they are going to be.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Is there Life on Mars?

The Red Planet
Over the last 5 years, thanks to advances in technology and science, exploring Mars has been made possible.

The Rover
The Mars Curiosity rover is a vehicle built to travel over tough terrain and document everything it comes into contact with. It was sent up to the Red Planet by NASA to try and gather evidence to answer the question of: ‘has there been life on Mars?’ Since its launch in November 2011 it has drilled into the surface of Mars, snapped some amazing HD photographs of Mars (unfortunately showing no Martians) and even played one of’s songs! ‘Curiosity’ will continue its amazing journey over the next few years without issues we hope.

The Voyage
Sending remote control vehicles is okay however, a Dutch company is taking it one step further: ten people are being sent to Mars in 2023. This is part of the Mars One project that hopes to create the first permanent settlement outside Earth. Mars One believes human exploration of the solar system should be a global effort, greater than the ambition of an individual nation. Mars exploration offers an opportunity to celebrate the power of a united humanity.

The Crew
In 2013, Mars One will conduct a global search to find the best candidates for the first human mission to Mars. On Mars, the primary responsibility for the astronauts is to keep everything and everyone, up and running. This will be a particular challenge for the first teams. They will need the skills to solve any potential problem - some of which will be completely unforeseeable. Their combined skill sets of each team member must cover a very wide range of disciplines. The astronauts must be intelligent, creative, psychologically stable and physically healthy!
They also need to be a certain height, have perfect health and although anyone in the world can apply to be one of the astronauts they need to speak one of the 11 most common languages spoken on Earth.

The Technology
There are many pieces of technology needed for this mission: a Lander that contains the systems for the generation of energy, water and breathable air within the settlement, a Lander that contains food, spare parts and other smaller components, an inflatable living space, and many more Landers for other various items.

The out-of-this world panoramic image of ‘Mount Sharp’ taken by ‘Curiosity’
Unfortunately, we are still unsure whether there is actually life on Mars or if there has ever been life on Mars however NASA and other companies won't give up until they can answer that question.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Saturday 6th July 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 6th July 2013 and...

Minecraft 1.6
Earlier this month version 1.6 of Minecraft was released. It includes various bug fixes and some much anticipated new items.
Horses, donkeys, mules, foals, skeleton horses and undead horses have been added to the game which you can tame and ride, put armour on to and tie up next to your house.You can feed them on hay bales which you need grow or various other vegetables.
The horses come in a variety of shades between black and white and there are apparently 35 different breeds altogether. Like any other mob on the game their health can increase and decrease depending on circumstances and they can breed with each other if you feed them a golden apple or golden carrot.
Also in 1.6 comes the addition of carpets you can decorate your house/castle/barn/secret underground cave even better!

Top Gear Season 20
Last Sunday at 8PM season 20 of Top Gear started and it was great. Jeremy and James raced across new Zealand, they got a new 'reasonably priced car' and Richard tested hot hatchbacks. Surprisingly the show is currently one of the most popular things on television worldwide and they haven't changed their format in over 10 years! They have a winning formula and are keeping with it... which is probably the best thing they could do.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Waterloo Road Season 8 Finale

There is something about Waterloo Road, I can't tell whether it is the romance, drama, creativity or characters which makes it a gripping and entertaining show which you will tune in every week to watch.

Waterloo Road is completely unique and there is nothing even remotely similar the show on television. It is a one hour weekly drama set in a modern secondary school in Scotland where the show follows the story of approximately 15 teachers and pupils. Some of them are smart, others selfish, others grumpy however all of them make the show what it is.

Since Waterloo Road started in 2006 not a single member of the cast has stayed the same. Most of them even moved onto bigger and better things. Jenna Louise Coleman who starred in season 4 of the show now plays as the Doctor's companion in Doctor Who, Robson Green went onto his own fishing show and the show currently stars dancer, George Sampson.

Waterloo Road appeals to most audiences, teenagers watch it because it is set in a school and adults watch it because they can feel nostalgic and remember what school was like.

The storylines can be a bit unrealistic sometimes however on the whole, Waterloo Road is a thoroughly enjoyable and fresh program which over 5.1 million people watch every week.

Last night it was the finale of Season 8 of Waterloo Road and it was unforgettable. It concluded with the departure of Tom Clarkson; he fell off the school roof trying to save a pupil. The writers cleverly tied up all the loose ends from this series but left you still wanting more. I can't wait until season 9 starts later this year.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Vine 1.3

Vine 1.3
A few weeks ago Instagram released a huge update allowing users to upload videos and add filters to them. So to keep up with the competition, Vine released version 1.3 earlier this week which adds loads of new tools and features.

We all know that Vine is owned by Twitter and the most popular thing you can do with Twitter is retweet something so Vine is following in her mother's footprints and now allows you to revine videos so all of your followers can see the Vines you love.

Recording a Vine has now got more complex as there are now new options you can use. You can now add a grid onto your screen, you can use a new focus button however when I tried it it made no difference to what I was recording and finally there is a ghost tool which overlays your last frame over the camera so you can be more imaginative when recording. I'd recommend that you update your Vine app to experience these new tools yourself.

The Vine Channels
Also, like Twitter, Vine is now supporting protected accounts which only people with permission can view.

If you want to opposite to that (more people to see your Vines), you can add your 6-second videos to a channel. There is a channel for most things from comedy to cats. You just select the channel on the upload page.

Finally, like every update to every app, there has been bug fixes and the app has been made faster.

Overall, although it might not seem like much, this is a major update which has made the app more of a pleasure to use. Vine 1.3 shows that Twitter is determined to beat Instagram to make the best micro-video sharing app.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Is Formula 1 boring?

Over the last few years Formula One has became extremely technical and taken over by regulations and 'health and safety' however has this killed the sport?

It is good news now that Formula 1 drivers no longer die during races and that there are no terrible crashes however it is crashes that make F1 what it is. Crashes is not the only thing that modern F1 is lacking, taking over and unexpected wins have also been decreasing over the last 5 years. Watching cars drive round the same track for ninety minutes is not entertaining anymore.

So - instead of just complaining I have came up with a solution. Make tracks wider - a lot wider. The Monaco F1 track is an iconic street circuit however it is hardly ideal! There is not much run off area, no space for taking over and since it is a street circuit it means that the track is only as wide as the road.

I was at Croft Circuit last weekend and watching the touring cars. As the day went on the weather got worse  until the cars were slipping around like they were on ice. Almost all the cars had run off the track by the end of the last race. This made me think about the same situation in F1 - it just wouldn't happen. As soon as their is a small drizzle over the track the commentators exaggerate the situation, there are yellow flags waving and safety cars get sent out before any action can happen. This is understandable since F1 cars aren't as protected and easy to drive as touring cars however I think the rules should be changed so they are forced to drive in the rain!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Is BlackBerry 10 Hardware ugly?

The BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry 10 is a failure of a operating system. There are currently only 3 mobile devices which run BlackBerry 10: the Q10, the Z10 and the Q5.

The Z10 was launched at the same time of the launch of BlackBerry 10 and it is a touchscreen smartphone with no physical keys (which was a risky move which still hasn't paid off). The Z10 has got terrible reviews because of the operating system however there hasn't been many comments on the hardware.
In my opinion, the phone is extremely standard and doesn't have any unique hardware features which will make it stand out.

The Q10 is a traditional BlackBerry device with a small rectangular touchscreen at the top and a physical QWERTY keyboard at the bottom. I've owned a couple of phones with QWERTY keyboard and they work fine as long as you have small fingers. The Q10 is no exception and, like the Z10, is has been held back by it's weak operating system.

The ugliest phone ever: the HTC ChaCha
Earlier this year BlackBerry launched the Q5 which is a smartphone similar to the Q10 however not as expensive and apart from the HTC ChaCha (pictured right) the Q5 is the most ugly smartphone I've ever seen!
I think there is something about all QWERTY smartphones which disgusts me.
This phone is another reminder why you shouldn't invest your money into buying a BlackBerry device.

In conclusion, if BlackBerry doesn't introduce some more ambitious hardware quickly they are going to end up in serious financial trouble as their current smartphones are extremely basic and boring.