iDeathStar

3 Aug

Yes, and I bet Apple’s minions would all flock to buy it if it actually came out. The quote that prompted this particular article is in fact this one right here;

Apple has an ego the size of the Death Star, and it’s intended purpose is the same: control (and possibly a giant planet-destroying laser).  — jellis142, Gamer

This comment was prompted by this thread on Overclock.net. Apple are trying to block the release of the Samsung tab in Australia. I don’t know about you, but I’m very much anti-Apple. I believe the corporation itself takes the terms ‘cut-throat’ and ‘malpractice’ to new levels in business terms, and their tech isn’t even that good; you pay a lot of money for the pretty white casing and the ‘i’ before the name (in some cases). As an example, Samsung make some of the hardware for Apple’s iPhones, and chips for other devices. Apple then decides to sue Samsung for infringing copyright/trademark law for apparently mimicking their products.

This irritates me. It irritates me greatly. First of all, the only reason Apple are suing Samsung is because they’re afraid to lose their global monopoly with the iPhone (and now the iPad), to a much better and much cheaper competitor. I’ve tried both the iPhone operating system and the Android, and found the Android a whole lot better. I found two articles in particular that I just wanted to roll on, nom and otherwise hug tightly to my bosom for their all encompassing analyses. They can be found on my usual techie staples, MaximumPC and TechRepublic. Clicky!

You may argue that Apple have every right to protect their trademark, but personally, I don’t think they really have any grounds to take Samsung to court. A free and open market is all about having a range of choice; for example, I don’t see all the computer manufacturers arguing over who first developed the concept of the Netbook. They all look fairly similar – they all contain the same hardware, more or less, and all have the same spec – but are Dell gunning for Acer because Acer’s Inspire One has the same name and spec… near enough, as the Dell Inspiron Mini? No.

My point is Samsung have provided us with an alternative to the Apple franchise. I’m not a mindless idiot; I don’t want to spend my hard-earned cash on the Apple insignia on a phone, when I have quite a few gripes with the software itself, and don’t really like the brand anyway. I’d rather have a range of choice. I don’t want to be forced to buy the iPhone if I want an all-round, all-purpose, singing, dancing, gyrating phone. I want to have a look at the HTC, the Galaxy S and the Samsung range, LG…

By taking Samsung to court, Apple are infringing on our rights in an open and competitive market. We have a right to choose something other than Apple if we want to. Yet another reason why I do and always will boycott Apple products.

 

A few links for the idle internet browser:

  • tested.com – Why Apples Lawsuit Against Samsung is a Big Deal
  • overclock.net – Apple Blocks Samsung Galaxy 10.1

I’ve never been afraid of the highest heights…

31 Jul

Oh my days. Had an awesome night last night, and without getting completely destroyed. Granted, I was fairly drunk, and alarmed Rob by climbing – well, rolling – over a metal barrier onto an (empty) dual carriageway after Kieran, who had sprawled out on the grass next to the medieval wall that runs through Canterbury. But other than that, it all went rather well. I think I may be the only one who has woken up without a hangover – Joe came to collect his car with sleepy eyes, Sam shuffled out his room with a husky voice and a blatant headache. I have yet to see my other three amigos, but I’m pretty sure they’re in a similar state.

It was a good night.

We always have good nights down here… actually, that’s a lie. We’ve had a few that have gone awry, but never dangerously. There has always been someone there to pick up the broken pieces and make sure everyone gets home safe. Even the time I got carted back to 23 Artillery in an ambulance has become anecdotal and a source of amusement (despite my burning embarassment). Everyone has off nights. But these are all counter balanced by the ones like last night. I didn’t drink a great deal. I was merry. I was sober enough to ring Sarah up and make sure she and Sam were on their way home, but still drunk enough to ring Mike up at 3am just to tell him how amazing he was and how much I loved him. I’m sure he appreciated my sentiments.

Finding your limits with alcohol is always difficult. It’s taken me a little while longer than I would have hoped, but it seems now I’m managing to balance out enjoyment with the drinking; I even managed to enjoy myself in Club Chemistry – granted, they were playing Blink182 and a bunch of other corny sixties/eighties/nineties hits that appealed to my drunken brain like a tennis ball appeals to a dog, but if I’d have been anymore sober or, conversely, anymore drunk, I don’t think I would have enjoyed myself nearly as much.

Having a good time involving alcohol is about balance. Not too much, not too little, and everything turns out fine. Oh, and even better; I don’t even have a hangover!

Ode to Canterbury

30 Jul

Beware! Sentimental mushy stuff. You have been warned…

Once more I’m back in Canterbury, now officially my home town, I couldn’t have felt happier than when the first roundabout off the A2050 appeared in front of my freshly valeted Vauxhall Corsa (incidentally, if you want the name of a good valet in Hertfordshire, give me a bell; he did an awesome job for £20!). For me, this heralds the beginning of Canterbury; the beginning of the good life. Even the smell of the place was different; it smelled fresh, and Canterbury-ish. It’s hard to explain. As I passed the iconic Westgate, I couldn’t help but grin to myself – it was going to be a good weekend.

Is it possible to fall in love with the place and its people? Well, the people I love are not technically from Kent. They’re from everywhere. Buckingham, the Isle of Man, Croydon… everywhere. But to me they are my Canterburyans. My UKC family. The one thing that links us all – other than our penchant to drink far too much, a degree of social awkwardness and days spent sitting on the PS3/other console for unhealthy lengths of time, boycotting sleep and food just for that extra bit of progression – is Canterbury. We all have our own reasons to love it. Everyone misses it when they’re away. Everyone will bawl like babies when it comes time to move on. It’s our playground. It’s maybe our escape from events, people and even our own selves back in our original towns. Selves that may have been frozen in time. A previous save file that can’t be overwritten due to sentimental value, but is outdated. No longer the person you are now, but have to be when playing on that level.

But above all, Canterbury is our home.

For me, Canterbury holds a lot of ‘firsts’. First time I properly drank, first time I lived away from home, first time I had to cook for myself, first time I had to pay rent and my own bills. I passed my driving test in Canterbury. First time I was treated like an adult by my contemporaries and other adults. But above all, I met some amazing people. People that I hope I’ll know for the rest of my life, or at least stay in contact with, because not only have I shared a lot with them, they’ve helped me understand a few things about myself in barely two years that otherwise might have never been tapped, or simply ignored in my lack of confidence. Down here, these people are more than friends, they’re like my Canterbury family. Dysfunctional. Slightly mad. Borderline Alcoholics. All very different. But all amazing.

So, it’s going to be a good weekend. First pint will be to Sam, of course – 21, zomg – but the second, I think, in an outrageously sentimental way is to Canterbury and everything that it entails. Chin chin!

Are evangelicals really that bad?

28 Jul

That title caught your attention, didn’t it? Tehe. Anyway, I was at work this morning, with M sitting next to me on his Netbook browsing Funnyjunk, and he linked me this little beauty:

http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/2411697/epic+funny+religion+comp+3/

Be warned, there’s a lot of religious stereotyping/bashing.  While I had a little giggle at the absurdity of it (come on, some of them are worth a private chuckle, even if you don’t want to admit it), it was one of the comments that caught my eye.

Im christian but im not one of those “D:< Everyone must be christian or i will eat your children” People. And im not the person thats ‘yelling’ at the atheist and Jewish over the internet saying “D:< YOU WILL GO TO HELL IF YOU DONT ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOR!!! Grrrr!” but i am one of those people who are like “I accept your opinion but hope that one day you pray
This got me thinking. What would get under the skin of an atheist more? An evangelical, or one of these kinds of people? Now, before you immediately jump to the ‘evangelical’ answer, consider this: you can argue, condescend, patronise, belittle and otherwise destroy many of the arguments of an evangelical if you are an atheist with a properly grounded set of arguments, and a level head, but what can you say to one of these people? ‘Uh, ok, thanks?’, and if you answer them with a defensive retort, you just come off looking like the ass hole. They’re not pushing their religion on you, they’re not looking for an argument and they’re certainly not being offensive.
But if you look a little closer, there’s something that niggles at your brain stem like a chinchilla gnawing through the wires of your brand new DVD player. Are they patronising you? When I read that last part I imagined the – probably good-willed – poster saying it in the same voice they might use when pitying a homeless person. Could they be inadvertantly pitying you for what you just don’t have? Faith? Belief? Someone to pray to? ‘I accept your opinion but I just hope one day you’ll pray’ sounds very much like ‘Yes dear, I know you think this now, but one day you’ll realise you’re wrong’.
So my atheist friends, what annoys you more? Evangelicals you yourself can patronise and disregard, or this kind of wamby-pamby Christian who sleuth attacks you with their unabrasiveness and ‘acceptance’? What if you went ‘yes dear’ once they said it, but they repeated the same sentiments again? This poster was probably being genuinely accepting against a backdrop of otherwise intolerant slurs in the OC, but that doesn’t stop a part of my brain thinking ‘oh, you clever little…’

Dear Mr Harding…

27 Jul

I’ve had a lucky break with my attempts at becoming a teacher. A friend of my Mum’s has a contact at Enfield Grammar School, who just happens to be the headmaster, who just happens to have taken an interest in me. The only problem is that I have to open proceedings by writing a formal letter about why I want to teach, why I would be an asset to his school as a volunteer, while trying to make myself seem as genuine and as humble as possible. Oi…

We’ve all had our English lessons on ‘how to write a formal letter’; the syntax, the language, the thesaurus you should arm yourself with to try and make every other word about twenty letters long. But let’s be frank, it’s still bloody hard to write an application to anything, be it a job, a placement or a university. My sister has just finished her Personal Statement for her application to University – they grow up so fast! – which she struggled with for several weeks. I have to admit, having done it myself, I wasn’t very helpful in saying ‘it’s easy, you just have to put why you want to study your course’.

You may argue that if you love something then it’s easy to write why you want to study it, or work in it, or whatever. Wrong. If you really love it, then it’s easy to just splurge out in a passionate hysteria about why it’s so awesome and if you were a cat you’d be rolling all over it like it was cat nip, but to structure your thoughts, opinions, hopes and desires into a formal, readable few paragraphs has to be one of the hardest things to do. Well, for me, anyway.

So here I am, staring hopefully at a word document, willing it to outstretch its digital fingers and pluck a few ideas from my head to write the letter for me. It could happen! No, no.. it couldn’t. Somehow I must find a way to communicate with Mr Roger Harding why he should give me a volunteer place on his staff roster, and why I want to be a teacher at all. Right now, the majority of me just wants to write ‘Give me a place. I’m awesome. That is all.’ Le sigh!

Holidays: Productive or Relaxing?

26 Jul

My family and I have very different ideas as to what makes a good holiday. While I would prefer to go on a two week expedition to China with the GVI to help conservation of the Giant Panda, the rest of my family would much prefer to while away those two weeks lounging by the pool side of some tourist ridden resort in Spain, Turkey or another such magnet for British tourists. While I have to admit, maybe a few days of relaxation time on a nice hot beach, swimming in the sea and maybe going on a tourist orientated tour of a Greek island would be nice. But only a day or so. After the third day I find myself craving something productive, something exciting, something different. But it’s so damn pricey!

I’m currently in the process of looking up holidays for my Mum. I’m very picky. I pour over reviews, scout the area on Google Earth and read yet more travel blogs and reviews of the area. None of them seem particularly attractive to me, as most of them appear to be trying to replicate Britain, but in a hotter climate. So far, I could have 7 nights in Ibiza (yeurgh!) for £245, but if I wanted to visit Venice? Rome? We’re looking at £500-£600 at least, probably with a whole lot of extras to be paid for as well.  Now, I could stay in a Youth Hostel, go self catering, limit my baggage to carry on and all that and save myself a few hundred pounds, but my Mum would be aghast at the very thought of any of that. Damn it!

In this current financial climate, I’m very lucky indeed to be even considering going abroad, but I still yearn to do something productive and beneficial during my time away from this ol’ sceptered isle. This got me thinking about how these young people manage to get themselves out to Africa and China caring for and aiding the animals and people there, and I began to browse the internet looking for ways. I stumbled across this little gem; http://www.gvi.co.uk/ . It offers interships, holidays, volunteering opportunities – everything I was looking for. There’s one problem. You know those two weeks with Pandas I was talking about? It’ll set me back a juicy £1450. Ouch. For a student, that’s a little bit unachievable.

I started looking for other things. And then I stumbled across something that would not only help others, but also me in the long run. It was http://www.evergreeninternational.co.uk/ , thanks to a friend of mine. It provided teaching opportunities for students in China. Bingo! Not only will I get to visit China – somewhere I’ve always dreamed of going – but also, I’ll be able to gather valuable experience about another culture, as well as the teaching experience that is so essential if you want to get onto a postgraduate teaching course. And what’s more is that they don’t charge you through the roof prices, because they’re a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. They have a £185 administration fee, and the rest is down to you. Brilliant.

So, I’ve started saving up already. I really want to do this. I’ll get my £500 deposit back for my house at the end of the year (as long as we don’t burn it down in the mean time), so that’ll give me a nice boost to financing the trip. Moral of the story – there are plenty of holidays with a difference, a) if you’re willing to pay the price, and b) if you’re willing to really look for them.

Media or Society?

25 Jul

Is there some rule about not being allowed to blog twice in one day?

Well, this couldn’t wait.

A few sensational things have happened over the last few weeks. Murdoch – the King Pin of News International – is being dragged before a load of MPs to explain why some of his minions had been hacking the phones of noteable individuals. ‘Phone hacking’ is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to 2005/6 when the News of the World published an article written by royal editor Clive Goodman, claiming that Prince William was in the process of borrowing a portable editing suite from ITV royal correspondent Tom Bradby. Following the publication, William and Bradby met to try to figure out how the details of their arrangement had been leaked, as only two other people were aware of it.

The more recent scandal, however, veraciously savages the every day man and woman’s sense of decency and morality. We couldn’t care less about MPs, and the Royals and celebrities can quite easily fend for themselves as they have done for years against the blood-thirsty media hound. But it was the hacking of the phones of Milly Dowler and some 7/7 victims that finally grabbed the attention of Jane and John Doe.

You may think this is a rather bold statement considering how much attention maybe you or I pay to the news and the goings on around the world. But what about your Mum, your Stepdad, your little sister? You know the kind of people that might have a flick through The Sun now and then just for the celebrity tit bits, skipping over most of the sensationalist stuff, and maybe only glancing at the latest government blunder or international catastrophe. Well, I don’t know about yours, but mine have been rather riled up with their usual media staples as of recent.

As an example, take my Mum. Now, she’s very much down to Earth, and just gets on with her life, not paying much heed to the workings of the world. She works hard, pays her taxes, reads about celebrities and does the ironing. But as of recent she has been grumbling about the newspapers and how they should ‘get what’s coming to them’; basically, she’s starting to sound a bit like me. Scary, I know. Her first bone of contention was that such vulnerable people were targeted by heartless employees of the News of the World. Her second, which came shortly after, was that the death of Amy Winehouse made the front page against the backdrop of tragedy in Norway.

This shocked me particularly because she, along with my little sister, were the kind of people who mourned Michael Jackson’s death. Upon his death, they forgot about all his eccentricities, the court case, hanging his baby out the window and other such black marks against his name that they had judged previously. So, I would have expected the same reaction upon Winehouse’s death. But no.

Against the backdrop of the travesty in Norway, they were disgusted that she should make front page news. The first I heard of this was in a short car journey to Stevenage, when my Mum casually remarked that she couldn’t believe the papers though that Winehouse was more important than the ‘developments in Norway’. Furthermore, my sister uttered similar sentiments. Never before had they paid this much attention to a worldly event.

Could it be that the heartless way the News of the World had gone about gathering information from victims of terrible events have hardened them against the media? Could it be they were finally developing a ‘worldly sense’ of matters? I find it interesting how the press seem to have turned from their friendly, gossip-ridden tabloid to the paper version of the anti-social neighbour next door. Just short of outright banging on their door and asking them to stop having loud, vigorous sex at three o’clock in the morning when you have to get up early, you grumble about them behind their back and offer tight-lipped, tolerant smiles to their face, subtly conveying your displeasure through the odd snide remark while quietly planning the best way to get them an ASBO.

But is this a change in the media, or a change in society? Has the media changed the rules of play to ones intolerable to the every day person? Or has the everyday society of Britian (and maybe even the world?) become less tolerant of their reckless disregard for the sanctity of someone’s private life? Even the Americans, so in love with their press and the concept of freedom of information and speech, are calling for Murdoch and his cronies to be called to account for their actions. Perhaps it’s the change of target. Mum didn’t have a problem with the hacking of Prince William’s phone. Nor was she interested when MPs became the target. Nor other celebrities. It was young Milly Dowler, so cruelly snatched away from a long and promising life by a psychopath. It added insult to injury that the very empathy Mum had felt for her and her parents had been provided by the evil means of phone hacking, and perhaps other such unlawful and invasive techniques. It’s a betrayal of the most heinous kind.

Perhaps this in itself opened the door for her to be critical of their front page coverage of Amy Winehouse while divers were still looking for the bodies of people massacred by the evil maniac in Norway. Personally, it grinds on me every time a celebrity is featured on the front page of a newspaper (who really cares about Cheryl Cole’s messed up private life?) It is true, any kind of death is a tragedy. But, she asked, in what strange world does the death of one person become more important than the death of many?

Of course… all this is only speculation. She still reads the glossy magazines, and she’s still umm-ing and ahh-ing about watching some programme coverage of the singer on the television. But it was truly interesting to see such a rapid and drastic change in the family members I had already written off as uninterested in the real world around them.