Saturday, 31 August 2013

Facebook Beta App for Windows Phone 7

Facebook and Microsoft have always been close friends, Microsoft has never needed to beg Facebook to build an app for them like what they have with other companies and Facebook has always been keen to work with Microsoft. This relationship is probably so good because Microsoft funded Facebook millions of pounds when it was just getting started.

Anyway, in an unexpected move, Joe Belfiore (the man who runs the team behind Windows Phone design and definition) early this morning Tweeted a link to the Windows Phone 7 marketplace where users can download a new Facebook Beta app.

The app is similar to the Windows Phone 8 app in most aspects and it look really good. There are no dodgy animation, transitions or graphics; everything surprisingly runs smoothly. There are a few issues that need resolving though (however that is expected since this is a beta) and they will undoubtedly be fixed in the near future.

Saturday 31st August 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 31st August 2013 and...

Gojee Redesign
Gojee used to be a Java written website where users could input what ingredients they had in their kitchen and then Gojee would recommend a recipe they could make. The service was slow because there was so much Javascript and the recipes were sometimes questionable because they required a lot more ingredients than you inputted. The layout was stylish though and if you were craving a food (for me that is usually chocolate) the website would come up with some scrumptious recipes for you.

However Gojee has had a major redesign. The website is still stylish and beautifully made however it is now also a lot quicker and easier to use. You can favourite dishes so their recipe will be stored somewhere safe in your account and you can now filter the recipes by what meal you are wanting (e.g breakfast, lunch, supper).

Netflix 'My List'
Only weeks after the launch of Netflix launched 'profiles' so different users can have different profiles under the same Netflix account, they have just announced and launched a feature called 'My List' which allows users to create a single list of programs and films they want to watch later.

The most ugly piece of technology ever?
Nintendo is still failing
Nintendo, earlier this week, did two things. 1 - reduce the price of the Wii U which has been an unbelievable failure and 2 - announce a new Nintendo DS. It is called the 2DS and it is like the 3DS apart from it is lacking one dimension. It is also lacking a hinge making the device look uncomfortable to hold and look like a lopsided tablet.

Anyway, the Nintendo Wii U's price will reduce from $349.99 to $299.99. This comes only months after the the company behind Nintendo's flagship game 'Zombie U' announced that it was hardly worth running the servers because so little people played the game. Even the Nintendo fans who queued up overnight to buy the Wii U were soon disappointed with the console. Compared to the XBOX One and the PlayStation 4 (which will be launching later this year), the Wii U is not even in the same league.

The Nintendo 2DS (pictured above) will cost $129.99 and will launch on October 12th. It is compatible will all current Nintendo DS games - even the 3D ones - and it comes in a variety of colours to appeal to the childrens market.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Miley Cyrus Twerking GIFs

The Twerk
 The Tongue 
 The Response 
(Miley Cyrus' controversial performance at the MTV Video Music Awards where she 'Twerked')

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Saturday 17th August 2013: In the News this Week

It's the week of Saturday 17th August 2013 and...

Next iPhone rumoured September 10th announcement
'All things D' reports that Apple's next mobile device will be announced on September 10th. Like every year, there have been hundreds of rumours about the new device but like every year only a small fraction of them are likely to be true. Rumours suggest the next iPhone will have eye tracking technology, a fingerprint scanner and better camera capabilities to put it on par with similar high end mobile devices.
This is the first iPhone with a completely new operating system. iOS 7 look completely different to iOS 6 or anything before that. iOS 7 takes the best things from iOS 6, Android and Windows Phone and puts them together in a beautifully designed package.

Breaking Bad returns
Walt and Jesse returned to viewers screens earlier this week as the show builds up to it's finale. Season 5 of popular American drama  'Breaking Bad' was aired in America last Sunday and was on Netflix UK on Monday morning meaning that British viewers weren't missing out.
The drama is about a terminally ill Chemistry teacher who basically says 'YOLO' and then decided to get into one of the most dangerous industries; cooking methamphetamine with an ex-student (Jesse).

With the Earth's population and the demand for meat at an all time high farmers will soon not be able to cope with the high demand so recently a Dutch company has been making a burger from stem cells. The burger costed £215,000 to make and it was described at their PR event in London as 'not as juicy as real meat' however they say it will take them another decade to perfect the product before it goes on sale.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Who to blame: or its users?

Recently there has been lots of speculation about and if it is safe for children and teenagers to use. The service allows its users to anomalously ask other users questions about anything however people have abused this privilege and the site has became a centre for cyberbullying.

Recently Hannah Smith, 14, has been a victim of cyber bullying on and since she hanged herself a few weeks ago major sponsors have pulled out of including Specsavers, Vodafone, Laura Ashley and ironically Save the Children.

There have now also been calls from consumers and users demanding that the website is shut down - however would that reduce the amount of cyber bullying? At the end of the day is only a window for bullies to use and if the window was closed the bullies would find another window to intimidate people.

This is a contrevertial subjct and says cyber bullying is against their terms of use so anyone who does verablly abuse anyone on the site is breaking the rules. doesn't have any employees moderating the site or blocking key words. Maybe this should be introduced in the near future before another tragic incident happens.

Are printed publications perishing?

I've been running a small newspaper for the last 4 and a half years now and I've talked to multiple journalists about the future of newspapers and magazines. Some are clearly more optimistic than others. I've talked to journalists who think that most publications will only exist online in another decade however I've talked to other journalists who think that magazines and newspapers will be thriving in 10 years time.

I actually prefer reading news in a newspaper despite my huge online presence. When I'm reading news online it means that I only read the stuff I want to read. For example if I am not interested in a story on a news website I won't open it however in a newspaper you get no choice in content. You read what is there which is good because it broadens your horizons and informs you about things you wouldn't know about otherwize.

As for magazines, I love them - the feel of glossy paper, the amazing photography printed around the words and the variation of page layouts and artwork which is omitted on news websites.

It doesn't matter what I think though, it is newspaper and magazine circulation figures which decide the destiny of newspapers from the biggest national tabloid to the smallest local broadsheet.

Below is a chart showing how newspaper circulation has decreased gradually since the year 2000.

In my opinion, I agree think in a decade most newspapers will have migrated online because if something big happens you will want to read about it instantly, not the next day. Newspapers only report on yesterdays news however if they are online they can have a story on their website just minutes after an event happens. They can also have liveblogs, live streams of news when online to so readers get a wide variety of media instead of just words.

Magazines however, I think will thrive. It's not only me who loves magazines, there are petrolheads, nerds, gossips and everyone else who has a hobby or interest will have a magazine that they've fallen in love with.

In conclusion, your local newsagents will still be open for a few more years yet however nobody is sure about exactly how long that will be. Newspapers certainly don't have a bright future ahead of them though.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Microsoft show off their successes

Microsoft recently showed off their latest stats and figures through a metro interactive infographic. They are not doing as bad as first thought despite Windows 8 lacking popularity and Windows Phone only being the 3rd most popular smartphone OS.

Most people forget, including myself, that Microsoft is not just responsible for Windows, they are also the company who make Skype, Office, Outlook, XBOX and SkyDrive. All popular services/products which have millions of users.

Here are some of the key figures from the website:

  • Microsoft have sold over 100 million Windows 8 licences
  • 76 million XBOX consoles have been sold
  • has over 400 million users
  • 250 million apps have been downloaded from the Windows Store (this is surprising because it means that every person has only downloaded 2 and a half apps on average)

Check out Microsoft by the Numbers yourself:

Monday, 12 August 2013

My Fight Against the Tobacco Industry (Smoking in Cars and Plain Packaging)

3 years ago, in June 2010, I went to the Children's Ward at Darlington Memorial Hospital where the British Lung Foundation had set up workstations so they could advertise their new campaign to get smoking banned in cars if there is a passenger under the age of 18.
Lungs are for Life
Here is the article from the Branksome Bugle written by Elizabeth Davey about it:
On Wednesday 16th June, members of the Branksome Bugle went to visit the Memorial Hospital to see the launch of a British Lung Foundation campaign. 

During our trip we found out lots of things about smoking and second-hand smoke such as; there is 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, a 20 a day smoker after 7 months will have 83ml of tar in their lungs, around two million children live in a household where they are exposed to cigarette smoke, about 21% of children and 15% of adults have been diagnosed with asthma and about one in eight boys and one in ten girls report a long term respiratory disease.

Children should be able to enjoy a smoke free environment inside and outside the home so to do this why don't you help us and the British lung foundation by getting 50,000 signatures that will then go to 10 Downing Street. The British lung foundation will be trying to ban smoking in cars where passengers may be 18 or under. The British lung foundation aims to have the 50,000 signatures by early 2011.

Whilst we were there the Memorial Hospital, the British lung foundation were launching their children’s charter. They were also celebrating 25 years of helping people with lung conditions. During our visit we also interviewed a man called Dr John Furness and here are some of the things we talked about:
Liam Pape, Branksome Bugle editor, asked “So what exactly is your job?” 
John replied “I am a consultant which is someone who looks after children with breathing problems”.
James Allison, Journalist, asked “So what are Lungs?”
John replied “The lungs are just skin with little hairs on them.”
Elizabeth Davey asked if he thinks the British lung foundation will get the 50,000 signatures they want and John said “Absolutely, there are 6.2 million people on the earth so we will definitely get 50,000”.

After the Branksome Bugle’s trip to the Memorial Hospital we have now realised how precious life is and someday that we might even save a life ourselves but unless you help the British lung foundation with the petition then more women men and children will die because of cigarette smoke or passive smoking.

Then, the following year, in March 2011 the same editorial team from the Branksome Bugle (including me) went down to London with the British Lung Foundation to hand in their petition. I was lucky enough to be one of the pupils selected to go down Downing Street and knock on the Prime Ministers door.

At 10 Downing Street
Here is the article from the Branksome Bugle about that:
On the 2nd March 2011, 5 members of the Branksome Bugle assisted by Mr Tearney and Mrs Hickerson and went down to London to hand in a petition to stop people from smoking in cars if there is a passenger under the age of 18. We were going on this trip because last June we went to Darlington Memorial Hospital and we supported the launch of the British Lung Foundation’s children charter. Since then the BLF have received over 15,000 signatures. Here is the story of our day at London:

After our long train journey, Rebecca did a Metro radio interview at Kings Cross station. After that we got 2 tubes to Westminster station where we were equipped with British Lung Foundation T-shirts. We then walked to the gates of Downing Street. There were lots of press there including BBC London. We met schools from Liverpool, Birmingham, Charfield and Surrey. It was then the time, 5 of us were chosen to go into Downing Street and hand in the petition.

The walk down to number 10 was long and when we arrived at the huge black door everyone was very nervous. We then knocked; a security guard answered and took the petition box off us. Everyone was happy but even more nervous because we had a TV interview with Newsround. After that we were lead back to the gates and had some more photographs taken.

After a short walk from Downing Street to Westminster we arrived for the British Lung Foundation reception. We walked down past Oliver Cromwell. After having a photo id taken, we had our bags scanned and we were searched. We walked down through the Great Hall, which had fabulous detail, and collected our name badges. We entered room A, which had been assigned to us. We then lined up for Westminster’s finest cuisine. After we were all stuffed, Dame Helena got up onto the plinth and gave a touching speech about why we were all gathered. Once she had finished The Health Minster got up and gave us all of his and members of his team’s support. Then when all the speeches had finished, we had one last chant and the seven of us headed to the train station for our last stop, home.

During March 2013 some people from Fresh North East came into DSMS to ask selected pupils about their opinion on the tobacco industry, cigarette packaging and smoking in general .The film was shown at their conference on March 20th where there were various other speakers talking about how bad the tobacco industry is and how they've been lying and deceiving people. 

I also made a short speech at the conference presenting a teenagers point of view of the tobacco industry and the damage they are doing. When writing the speech I was told numerous times that I need to be anti-smoking – not anti-smoker. This means I couldn’t have big rant putting down everyone who smokes because, quite frankly, it is their decision if they smoke or not.

Presenting my speech at the Ramside Hall Hotel
Here is my speech:
There has been lots of news coverage recently about the ethics and behaviour of multinational corporations, from tax evasion to horsemeat.

It got me wondering why the behaviour of an industry whose behaviour has been so appalling, over six decades is let off the hook and seems so far away from people’s radar.

The Tobacco industry makes billions, of pounds every year at the expense of health and lives lost. They are ultimately selling poison to people of any age. If they wanted to, the tobacco industry has the power to stop millions of people around the world from dying every year. Smoking causes 6 million deaths worldwide every year, and around 115,000 every week. To put this in perspective, that is the population of Durham plus the population of Chester-le-Street plus the population of Bishop Auckland every week. That is a lot of people.

For those who talk about adult choice, let’s remember this. For every customer who either dies or quits, the tobacco industry needs to replace them. Most new smokers will probably be teenagers around my age, maybe older, but many much younger. I asked some people in my school why they started smoking. Some were pressured into it by their friends, one person said their parents smoked so it was easy to get cigarettes and another person said they started smoking because they thought it was cool. The good thing is that more people said they had no intention of ever smoking.

Whether people smoked or not, I was surprised how many had a story to tell about how smoking had harmed someone in their family. There are numerous ways that the government can reduce the number of people smoking, from unlabelled packaging to simply raising the price of cigarettes. More dramatic adverts showing the damages of smoking might be effective like what they have that in Australia which has proven positive results. The unlabelled packaging would stop some first time smokers from buying cigarettes because they would have less attractive colours on the boxes.

You've all read about the horse meat scandal and how supermarkets are mislabelling their products, it confuses me why cigarette packets don’t even say what’s in the product. f people knew the vile and disgusting things they were smoking they would stop.

Bottom line, it doesn't matter what, but something needs to be done.

One thing I heard many times throughout the day was Plain Packaging. This is what most people at the conference (including MP’s and Doctors) wanted. Plain Packaging is where cigarettes are packed in a mouldy green colour and have graphic health warnings instead of fancy, attractive and colourful packaging which is currently on sale in the UK.

So during May I wrote a letter to David Cameron (Prime Minister), Nick Clegg (the deputy Prime Minister), Anna Sousbry (Department of Health), Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health) and Jenny Chapman (MP for Darlington) asking them what they were doing to help the push for plain packaging. For writing this letter I got interviewed by The Northern Echo and Radio 1’s Newsbeat so I could tell them what I was doing.

Click here for a copy of my letter to the Prime Minister.

Not everyone agreed with what I was doing though. A group for plain packaging who think that it wouldn't make a difference got hold of the letter and wrote quite a lengthy blog post questioning some of my points. There were also a few dozen comments agreeing with the blogger and asking if the writer of the letter was even a real teenage boy or if I was just a name Fresh NE used to write letters to important MP’s. I can give you the honest truth - I am a real boy.

Although it is not going to be happening in the near future I think that by this time next decade plain packaging will just be accepted and there will be no complaints about it.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The problems with buying a new smartphone...

iPhone 5?
HTC One?
Looking for a new smartphone is a tough job. Your mobile is no longer just a way of communication it is also a fashion statement which reflects who you are.

I currently have a HTC Radar running Windows Phone 7.5. I got it last April when Windows Phone 7.5 was the latest mobile OS from Microsoft however only a short 5 months later Windows Phone 8 came out and I immediately wanted it. I knew I wouldn't be able to afford a brand new phone so I trusted Microsoft to bring out an update for Windows Phone 7.5 to make it better, although they did this it was only available for Nokia Lumia phones and it was over 6 months late in the UK! So I'm looking for a new phone which has amazing hardware, a really good camera, a decent operating system with a wide variety of apps and that it is easy to put music on.

Software compatibility is always a big problem because you never know where a company is going to go next with their operating system. If they completely reinvent it and make a load of new features it is highly lightly that the full OS will not be compatible with your phone running the previous version. My example here is iOS 6 which was released last year. It worked great on the iPhone 5 because the hardware was up to the job of processing everything which was going on however it runned painfully slowly on any other iPhone. The full version of iOS 6 wasn't even given to iPhone 4/4S users however it still made their iPhone's run at a snails pace.
This is why you need to get a phone where you like the current operating system and know that the manufacturer will keep making small updates to it to keep your user experience fresh and interesting.

Another key factor you need to consider when purchasing a new phone is the ecosystem. That is apps. A phone might have the most intuitive and clever operating system in the world however without apps it is nothing. Alternatively there are phones running terrible operating systems however people buy them because they have good apps.
For example iOS is winning with the most apps. When a developer has an idea they are most likely to build the app on iOS first, then Android and then Windows Phone and maybe BlackBerry 10 however the operating system iOS 6 is hated by many and iOS 7 isn't looking much better.
Windows Phone is popular amongst teenagers, adults and even business people however it lacks key apps such as Instagram, Vine and YouTube.

I love taking photos and then sharing them on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or even just for personal use on SkyDrive so I always look for a decent camera on a phone with lots of features. The Samsung Galaxy S4's camera is a force not to be reckoned with. It is 13MP and the amount of options, filters and settings available for it are unbelievable. This is expected though as the S4 is Samsung's flagship phone.

Hardware is important to me however it isn't the most important thing. There are only a few smartphones on the market at the moment which have terrible hardware (if it is that bad the manufacturer would have changed it before its release) however I like my phones to be light and feel well built. I'm not bothered about gimmicky colours or a mixture of metals to make it look better because for me, it's what's inside which counts.

Samsung Galaxy S4?
Nokia Lumia 920?
Finally, I need to be able to play music easily. Zune (the music player) on my HTC Radar is terrible. So much so that I needed to buy an iPod Touch so I could listen to music easily. I need my new phone to be able to play tracks on it easily without me needing to try to hard to find the album and the new phone also needs to be easy for me to download new music on it.

Overall, until a phone launches with these features I'll be stuck with my old, outdated HTC Radar.

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment on this post on either Twitter or Google+.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nokia Lumia 1020 and Windows Phone 8 Apps

The back of the Nokia Lumia 1020
During July Nokia held a press event where they announced the Nokia Lumia 1020 which photographers and artists have been waiting for. The Nokia Lumia 1020 looks extremely similar to the Lumia 920 apart from the 41 megapixel camera bulging out of the back.

As expected then, this phone takes photographs of an unbelievably quality however that is probably the only unique feature. This phone seriously lacks in some areas. For one, it runs Windows Phone 8 which doesn't have many users or apps, because of the huge camera it also can't lay straight on a table and when you have taken a 41MP photo you need to plug your Lumia into your computer to access it.

However, you could argue that it has an outstanding screen, unique Nokia apps exclusive to Lumia phones and unlimited options for when you are taking photographs because of the camera app Nokia has built exclusively for this huge phone. The camera app called 'Nokia Pro Cam' and it lets you add filters, adjust white balance and change a variety of settings in real time so you can see the results instantly.

Overall, this phone is ideal for photographers and arty people as it takes amazing photos however in my opinion it is held back by it's operating system. I can imagine this phone could be more popular and more profitable if it was running Android however we will need to wait to see if the Windows Phone gamble will pay off for Nokia.

At this event Nokia also announced some new apps which will be coming to the Windows Phone 8 app marketplace. These included Path, Vine, Flipboard and an Instagram client which lets you allow users to upload pictures 'officially'.