Saturday, 5 December 2009

Apple Magic Mouse Review



I got the new Apple Magic Mouse a few weeks ago and i have to say that it is beautiful. The first sight of it in the box it comes in simply leaves you in awe. Once out of the box the awe continues and you question why such a magnificent looking mouse hasn't been made before.

It was very simple to get working; you simply turn on bluetooth on your computer, flick the switch on the back of the mouse and you are ready to go. Already used to multi-touch with my macbook, i was very interested to see how this carried over to a regular mouse.

The Magic Mouse works on every surface although i felt a little bit of resistance on the table i was using at work. Clicking is very satisfying and it's nice being able to left and right click without having 2 different buttons. Scrolling also works very nicely and reacts very quickly. Two finger swiping is nice when going through photos but i rarely use it in my browser. The 360degree scrolling is also useful, especially on my Macbook when my browsers windows are not often maximised.

My only issue with the Magic Mouse was that having been used to the multi-touch trackpad on my Macbook, I am very used to the 4 finger swipes for Expose and show desktop. These are my 2 most used multi-touch functions and are particularly useful on a laptop with a small screen.

This issue was solved however when browsing through Twitter posts and stumbling upon a Tweet about BetterTouchTool. This application makes the Magic Mouse completely customisable. This includes a 1 finger tapping, 2 finger tapping, 2 finger swiping, 3 finger swiping etc. This opens up the possibilities of the the mouse massively and becomes a very efficient tool. You can set any gesture to do pretty much anything, for example copy and pasting.

I first set up the mouse to start Expose with a 3 finger swipe down and a 3 finger swipe up to show the desktop (like the 4 finger functions on the Macbook trackpad) but after a few days decided to change these to 2 finger swipes because 3 fingers swipes didn't feel as natural or easy.

Whilst the Magic Mouse is quite expensive, if you want a fully customisable mouse that looks beautiful and is a dream to use then you will have no problems paying over the odds (as you do with all Apple products but most enthusiasts feel the extra cash is worth it).

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Indian Lamb in Spice and Yoghurt

I love cooking, read my C.V if you don't believe me. I love things that take ages to cook. I am of the opinion that everything tastes better when it is slow cooked.

Anyway, when ever I cook something I really like I will be writing the recipe in this blog and sticking a picture if I remember to take one.

So last night was Indian Lamb in Spice and Yoghurt. I really like Indian food and lamb is probably my favourite meat so this was a winner before i even started cooking.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped - I used shallots
125g plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamon - didn't use this
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves - didn't use this either
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1kg boned leg of lamb, chopped up - i used a shoulder joint and cooked it a bit longer
1 teaspoon garam masala
chopped fresh coriander leaves

1) heat oil in a wok over a medium heat and add the onion, stirring for 5min or until softened.
2) stir in the yoghurt, chili powder, coriander, cumin, cardamon, cloves, turmeric, garlic and ginger.
3) add the tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt then simmer for 5min
4) add the lamb and stir until coated
4) cover and cook over a low heat, stirring every now and again for 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 hours or until lamb is tender
5) add the garam masala to the curry and mix through
6) Sprinkle coriander leaves over the top.

This recipe was taken from "The Essential Wok Cookbook" by Murdoch Books


It was delicious, i had expected to have some left over for lunch today but when I got to the fridge found that my bloody sister had taken what was left for lunch at work.

Not impressed.

New York, New York. 2009

These are the photos from my trip to New York with my girlfriend in the Summer after my exams had finished.
There are lots from the helicopter ride we took over NYC but i would like to add that i will certainly never be doing this again after the tragedy a few months ago.

Awesome trip though.

video

Tokyo, Christmas 2008

And then Christmas 2008 in Tokyo plus my trip to Nikko:

video

Tokyo, Summer 2008

Here is a video with all my pictures from my trip to Tokyo in 2008.

video

Grammatics @ The Rivermead, Reading

This was a few weeks ago now but i got a photopass for the Bloc Party gig in Reading, unfortunatley i was only allowed to shoo the support band, here are a few shots:


 
 
 
 
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My C.V

Objective
I am a motivated, hard working, organised team player whose aim is to always achieve his goals and get the job done. I have a real passion for brands and a keen interest in the digital world and the way that it is evolving.

Education
09/06 – 07/09 The University of Reading Upper Second Class (2:1) in Business Economics (BA)
Studying for this degree has allowed me to study economic principles and quantitative techniques and develop a broad understanding of economic theory and its practical applications, particularly within business. I have developed successful research and analytical skills and enhanced my time management skills during my course, always meeting my deadlines. I was an active student, being a Treasurer and President of the Indie Society and then on the PR team for the student newspaper.

09/04 – 05/06 Maidstone Grammar School The International Baccalaureate:
English - 5
German - 4
Economics - 5
Computer Science - 6
Physics - 4
Maths – 5
Bonus Point - 1
Total Points - 30;
UCAS equivalent - 419

I opted for the International Baccalaureate as opposed to A-Levels. It gave me a greater variety of subjects to study and I felt it was a more well rounded course.

Marketing Related Work Experience
07/09 - Present Face Group Intern
Face Group is a Co-Creation agency. Their focus is on bringing major brands and consumers together to create and develop ideas for product development, marketing strategies and advertising. I am currently interning at their office.. My role involves a wide variety of tasks including data analysis, writing blogs to do with current projects or relevant issues, writing copy for online projects and helping to manage the online communities. (See bottom for links to blogs)
The most interesting project I worked on was a social media monitoring project for the Carphone Warehouse. This involved researching the different platforms that consumers talked about the brands on and used sites such as Omigli and a twitter tool on Yahoo called Important People to compile the brand mentions. We then analysed the data to create a overview of the companies online presence and sentiment of this presence so that they could understand what was being said about them and where.

I have also taken part as a consumer in projects over the last two years for Orange, Unilver (Lynx), Doritos and other brands. This involved attending focus groups, giving opinions on new product and advertising ideas and coming up with new ideas. For these sessions I had to be creative and able to work well in a team so that we could we could generate usable ideas and give valuable opinions on the items discussed.


01/07 – 07/09 Blackjack Promotions Promotions Staff
This involved working with brands such as Kelloggs, Luxxotica (Chanel, Prada, Rayban.), The Times etc. The work includeded handing out promotional items, merchandising, encouraging people to buy the products and raising awareness of the brands. For this job I needed to be outgoing, confident and able to communicate well with customers.

01/09 – 01/09 Spark* Newspaper PR Team
I was a member of the PR Team for the University newspaper. My job involved contacting companies for items to review such as games/CDs. It also involved making sure the correct permissions have been obtained for all images and other copyrighted materials that appear in the paper.

09/07 – 04/08 Ponanas Night Club Promotions Staff
I flyered for a club called Ponanas. For this job I had to be friendly and persuasive to get as many people into the club as possible.

Other Work Experience
07/08 – 08/08 WestLB Tokyo Credit Risk Management - Summer Intern
I spent the summer in Tokyo following the head of CRM. I assisted in day to day tasks, carried out research on particular deals and analysing and presenting the relevant information. I was able to asses problems involved in the adoption of new internal procedures and come to conclusions when specific issues arose.

09/07 – 11/07 First Point IT Data Entry
I had a 3 month contract doing data entry at an IT recruitment consultancy until they migrated to their new database, using MS Outlook and Access until I then helped them migrate to their new database system called ITRIS. I had to be accurate and consistent to ensure that the required information was migrated correctly.

Interests
Music is a big part of my life. I go to lots of gigs and used to do a lot of work for a music marketing company, distributing promotional materials and doing data collection or reviewing the gigs and taking photos for various publications. These have included Rock-Sound, Alternative Magazine, Xtaster Xine, Rock Beast and also my own music webzine.

I was the Treasurer and then President of the Indie Society at Reading University. We organised socials, helping bring new students together and provided an environment where newcomers to the university can easily meet like minded people. My job involved keeping track of our finances and then organising the events.

I love to cook. I make the best roast potatoes, my lamb hotpot is delicious and my Thai curry tastes as good as the real thing.

Links
Photography:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ash_ymb/

Bye Bye Myspace?



I remember when I first started using MySpace. I was chatting to a friend from Australia, we were both bored and he said I should check out this thing called MySpace. I set up a profile and filled in some simple information. After browsing through a selection of other profiles I soon learnt that with some basic html you could personalise your profile in any way you wanted. I spent days playing around with my profile and adding new friends.

MySpace was big when I was at school, everyone had a profile. Most people checked their profiles several times a day and eventually the school blocked MySpace access (along with anything else of interest.) Fast forward a few years and MySpace is only ever mentioned with disdain and Facebook is the only social networking site that any of my friends use.

When Facebook first arrived on the scene, no one was interested. It was all very clinical and bland, it lacked any personality. Your MySpace profile was a reflection on your personality and made a big statement about who you were. Facebook on the other hand had the one size fits all approach and wasn’t the creative outlet that we demanded.

As time went on however MySpace slowed down. It was full of spam, pages took far too long to load due to excessive images, videos and flash plug-ins. Communicating with friends was slow and difficult and this allowed the once bland Facebook to launch its attack. Facebook became the easiest way to find your friends, send messages and post comments in a very effective manner. Communication was now the key, with no easy way to find particular friends in your friend list it just didn’t give the fast results you wanted.

When I started university, the only reason we used MySpace was to listen to music on band profiles. It was a legal way to check out a bands music before you saw them at a gig or bought the album. It was also a great place to discover new bands. Facebook use increased because it was an easy and informal way to chat with people you had just met in halls or at social events. MySpace was about individuality and personal expression whereas Facebook focussed on communication.

I think MySpace appealed to a younger audience who cannot go out whenever they want, it allowed them to create a persona, much like with role playing games such as World of Warcraft, and talk to people that they may not ever know in the real world. Older users, who are more independent and actually know most of the people on their friends list, just need a method of communication and something to help them procrastinate, avoiding work at all costs.

Today I check my MySpace profile every couple of weeks if I am bored just to see if I have any messages or comments but cannot remember the last time I actually had any. There is an amusing article on Platform Magazines website where the writers look back at their profiles. It is like visiting a former self because as they discuss, no one has changed their profiles since 2006 and it is a chance to take a nostalgic visit down memory lane.

With founder Tom Anderson now shafted, Rupert Murdoch has set out a new direction for MySpace. It is weird that just a the day before The Independent published it’s article, The Telegraph recieved some information on the new direction that MySpace will be going in. The new vision is that of a creative outlet for all young people’s talents, not just the focus on music. Only time will tell if they can restore themselves to their former glory. MySpace will also be playing catch up in the free ad based music streaming services. With its launch being delayed once again, services such as the hugely popular Spotify and Last.fm have even longer to attract new customers and with MySpace’s somewhat tarnished reputation, I find it hard to see how they will be able to regain the lost ground.

It’s strange to think that something that was so important just a few years ago is probably now going to slowly disappear in to the ether without anyone really caring, I guess it’s a reflection of the ridiculously fast and continuously evolving world we live in. I am not really sad to see MySpace go; the only question that its disappearance leaves unanswered is, who will be next?

P.S. Perhaps in a few years all that will be left of MySpace will be this wonderful spoof clip, MySpace the Movie.



This blog was originally written for Face Youth Lab

DIGITAL CANNIBALISM - WHERE DOES MUSIC GO FROM HERE?




According to a recent report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries, 95% of music downloads in 2008 were illegal. The report claims that more than 40 billion songs were illegally downloaded and popular music website DrownedinSound calculate that this left the music industry with £48 billion shortfall.

The music industry is apparently only making 5% of its potential and with the already dramatic decrease in legitimate physical sales due to the “digital revolution,” the age of file sharing appears to be causing irreparable damage. Whilst these figures are dubious and many will question how they could ever calculate such a figure, it highlights the degree to which illegal downloads towers over legal downloads.

I am only 21 but I remember when I was at school spending all my money on CDs, as did all my friends. I remember eagerly waiting for new albums coming out and rushing into HMV to make sure I secured a copy. Now I don’t even own a stereo; my music system is a set of speakers that plug into my laptop.

The vast majority of my friends download music. The uneducated use p2p applications which are full of viruses and fake copies of songs and albums. Others use torrents, good download speeds, comments to verify the material and hundreds of sites that index what is available. The hardcore use newsgroups, you have to pay for access but the download speeds and available downloads are huge.

I download most of my music first. If I really like the album then I will buy the CD or more often, buy the vinyl. Because my laptop is my media system and the only other way I listen to music is on my ipod, having CDs becomes unnecessary. I don’t like paying for downloads because I don’t like not having something physical to show for it, hence the preference for vinyl. You also worry that if your computer dies, you could lose the music. If I really like the band or album however, it is nice to have the vinyl, the artwork looks cooler as its either in a 7” or 12” case and is more collectable. The vast majority of my friends download music; those that say they don’t are usually lying. Sharing music with friends used to mean swapping albums for a week but it now means sharing the torrent or rapidshare link.

It becomes very hard to pay for music when you are given the choice of using very similar software, say iTunes and BitTorrent, similar download speeds and similar quality but then also the option of paying or not paying. Radiohead released their critically acclaimed In Rainbows in 2007, they told fans they could pay what they wanted and as a result, about 62% walked away without paying anything. Only 12% paid in the region of what an album usually costs.

When you are at home on your computer and you have the choice of getting something you want for free or paying for exactly the same thing, most people will take the free option. This assumes that the person downloading the album cares nothing for the band. Paying for the album can ensure a smaller bands future. If I go and see a new band and I like them, I will buy the album. This is more relevant for smaller bands because you know the money means more to them. One album sale can be the difference between having petrol money to get to the next show or not. The bigger a band gets, the less of a direct relationship exists and so you can become less inclined to pay for the album because that real relationship with the band can fade.

File sharing is stealing. Every song downloaded for free is lost revenue. Many smaller bands however can benefit from file sharing. I read an article by an artist called Fakesensations who tried releasing an album via the major online stores. Very little happened and about $50 was earned. The artist then put the album up on a torrent tracker site. In 2 days, 500 people had downloaded the album. This is 500 people that probably never would have bought the album but now may go to a show, buy some merchandise or buy a physical copy of the album. The record labels would see this as 500 lost sales but to the artist, it is 500 potential new fans. This highlights the difficulty in regulating file sharing because sometimes artists do benefit.

As long as music can be easily downloaded, it will be downloaded. British internet service providers have started to send out letters informing customers that they are doing something illegal. France has introduced a 3 strikes policy where you can get banned from the internet for continuing to file share. I think this is an interesting policy and could have real effects. The choice of downloading for free now has serious consequences. Whilst not as severe as fines or prison sentences, consumers now must choose between legally downloading or losing internet access.

With the likes of Spotify, Myspace and Last.fm, there is a wealth of free music out there. The internet has made file sharing so simple and common place that I think the rights of artists need to be championed a little bit more. Letting people know that file sharing is stealing and that it has a direct impact on the artists is needed. Perhaps the letters ISPs send out to users should not be a standard letter but actually contain a list of what has been illegally downloaded and how much should have been paid in the first place. This way you can actually see the value of what you have stolen.


This blog was originally written for Face Youth Lab