My Blog and Shop

Friday, December 24, 2010

T'was The Night Before Christmas...

... and Santa was merry;
eating mince pies and
drinking the sherry!

Does that symbolise Christmas for you?  Indeed, Christmas is a time of excess.  Lots of food, drink, merriment and laughter.  Christmas versions of your favourite TV show, The Queen's Speech and time with your family and friends.

I also find I get quite sentimental around this time. Do you?

Over the last week, people have been battling to reach their Christmas destination; fighting against the elements, and many have made it.  Many more have not; and pictures on the television show what a state we, as a country, find ourselves when the weather is against us.

We are reminded that it's also a time for reflection.
A time to remember loved ones who have sadly passed;
A time to consider those less fortunate;
A time to consider those that, for whatever reason (weather included) cannot enjoy the festivities together.

My Blog and I is taking a short hiatus and will return fresh and ready to go in the new year.

Many thanks for your company through 2010.

I wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First Word Challenge

I saw this on another blog that I read (Single Dad Laughing), and thought it would be fun to share it here too.

It's something different, it's simple, and I bet it'll be a lot of fun for everybody involved.

Fill in the blanks of these five different questions with the first word that pops into your head for each.

1. I am really _______________.
2. I think children are _______________.
3. I wish I were a better _______________.
4. I am the best _______________.
5. My biggest fear is _______________.

Copy and paste the questions with your answers into the comments below. It'll be fun to get an idea of who you are right at this particular moment. If you want to do it anonymously, that's fine too

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My All-Time Favourite Seasonal Film

Last year I wrote a post about my favourite Christmas films, and my all time favourite is the 1946 classic "It's A Wonderful Life" by Frank Capra.

Every year I make a point of watching it, (with the Kleenex handy of course!)  It's wonderfully funny, sad, poignant and romantic.

The story of George Bailey, who feels useless and decides the world will be a better place without him, is a strange choice for a Christmas film.  However, this film has a real and important message about how our lives touch others, and it deals with issues like poverty and freedom and sacrifice.  It's these messages that makes it a perfect film to watch at Christmas.

I haven't seen the colourised version, and I'm not such a purist that I think it should have been left alone.  Having said that, whether black and white or colour, it is beautifully written and directed, and the arrival of Clarence, and his 'mini story' really brings it together.

Nominated for 5 Oscars at the 1947 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (James Stewart), Best Director and Best Picture; it never actually won; but that doesn't detract from the film that it is.

With wonderful characters, great cast and uplifiting message, this truly is a Wonderful Christmas Classic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Self Confidence

self-con·fi·dence (slfknf-dns)
Confidence in oneself or one's own abilities

I saw this the other day, thought it's a great way to start the week:

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but think you can't
It's almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you've lost.
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you're outclassed, you are.
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go to the
Stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins,
Is the one who thinks he can.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Review - WiseStamp Email Signatures

Here's something I discovered by accident, earlier in the week; and it's pretty nice, so thought I'd give it a bash, and tell you about it.

WiseStamp sell it as 'Bringing your email to life'.  Actually; selling is the wrong word, because the basic account is free.  We like free stuff here!!

So, what does it do?

WiseStamp Demo from wisestamp on Vimeo.

If you have a GMail, Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo email account AND you use Firefox, Safari or Chrome as your browser (support for Internet Explorer is coming) then you can add a personalised signature to your emails, that include links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more profiles.  You can also link to your blog, other news feeds, music, ebay; in fact there's quite a lot; and more is on the way.

Here's an example of my signature. The images to Facebook and LinkedIn are 'clickable' and take you straight to the profile, you can see I've also added my BlackBerry PIN.

See my profiles: Facebook LinkedIn
Contact me: BlackBerry/ 2332EF6A
Latest post from My Blog and I: Panto Season? Oh Yes It Is...
There are a ton of other profiles you can add, including YouTube, Tumblr, Etsy, Digg, MySpace, Orkut, Plaxo, Flickr, Blogger, WordPress....the list is endless.  

The free account gives you access to two signatures, or you can pay, from $3 per month, for more signatures, and a few more options; to be honest, I can't see the point, unless you want to run this through an enterprise.

Also, remember this is an extension to the browser, so if you use more than one PC / laptop, you'll need to add it to each of them - it's quick to do, and is worth it.

I think it's pretty good.

My suggestion?

Get along to their website and find out all about it yourself.  It's an excellent way to "spread the word", whether your own blog, or a blog you write for, or to promote your business website; or just because you want to be 'more social'!

Lewis Hamilton - A Christmas Car(ol)

This was released last year, but, since it's the season of giving; here it is again.  Just make sure you have your speakers turned on...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review - 3 Wireless Modem

Last weekend I purchased a pay as you go, wireless modem, on the 3 network.

I have been looking at these for a while; especially as I have a Wi-Fi only iPad, so this would be ideal for accessing the internet whilst away from such networks.  It also means that the iPods and Nintendo DSi devices could also connect.

Other reviews I have read have been mixed, mainly good, but some terrible customer service issues.  Then, Threes' customer service has always left a little to be desired.  Because of this I was a little doubtful, however, I parted with the cash and this is what I found.

The 3 wireless modem is supplied by Huawei (it's the E585) and is a neat, small, device, with only one control - the on/off button.  Also supplied in the box is a battery, a mains charger and a couple of USB leads.
The other pack, supplied at purchase, is a 3G SIM card.

There was a little power when I first put the battery in, and once the SIM card was inserted, I had to see how easy it was to set up.

This was very simple.

Once switched on, a number of icons are presented on the screen.
  • The signal strength
  • The network speed (either 3G or the faster HSDPA)
  • The number of connected devices - it's capable of handling up to 5 devices; but this will impair the performance
  • Internet Connection - proving that the modem is connected
  • SMS inbox - shows if there are any unread messages
  • Battery Charge indicator
  • Data used - this only shows for the current session
  • Connection time - again, only for the current session
  • International roaming - displays when the modem is used outside of the Three network.
That's it.  Nothing else; and quite frankly, there's nothing more needed.

So - I switched on my iPad; and it found the Three modem immediately. I entered in the supplied key-code and away it went.  Easy.

To make management of the airtime easier; Three have provided a dashboard where you can change the SSID, your password, and text messages sent and received to this SIM card (it is a mobile phone number, after all).

I bought the 3 month pre-paid package; which gives me 3Gb of data over 3 months.  After that, it's £10 for a month (with 1Gb of data).  Since it's not a contract, if I don't want to top-up, I don't need to.

The download speeds can't be compared to that from a home Wi-Fi network; but as something to use when out and about, when I need something bigger than my BlackBerry, then this is an ideal solution.

Thankfully, I haven't experienced any of the issues other people have written about; and fingers crossed, I won't.

If you've used one of these mobile wi-fi (mi-fi) devices, what do you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review - Amazon Windowshop for iPad

The Amazon Windowshop has each
department in a separate column
 Amazon have launched Windowshop; for the iPad.

Written specifically for the iPad, this free app flawlessly delivers the complete Amazon store in a presentation that is fluid and makes it easy to navigate.

Product reviews are present, with full product details, the ability to track open orders; in fact, the ability to manage your account, are all there.

If you select a DVD, the trailer, if present, will automatically play.
If you select an album or single track, the preview will automatically play.

The 'look inside' functionality, for books, isn't included, but I'm not sure what benefit there is in that anyway.  It's also not possible to buy MP3 downloads or Kindle books (although the app does link directly to the Amazon website to complete your purchase).

Trailers automatically play
It's well thought out, with all the departments easily accessible from a number of menu options.  Rather cleverly, when you click on 'Browse', a menu pops up; starting with Bestsellers.  By scrolling left to right on the top bar, the overall selection changes in the main window.  Or simply select a department and the pages dynamically change again.

All the information and ability to buy
is presented easily and neatly
If you know what you want, use the search function to locate it, and when you've found what you're looking for, touch it and the product spins open to reveal the full details.

In the left-hand margin, there are tabs to select Photos, Details, Reviews and Related items.

On the right, it's the sales bar - touch to either 'Add to Basket', 'Buy Now' (using One-Click) or 'Pre-Order'.  If you want, you can add to your Wish List; there's even a Share button, where you can email the link, or post on Facebook or Twitter (those social apps are everywhere!!)

Some may think the main screens looks cluttered, but, if you notice that each column is a department, or a sub-department, then it's really quite easy to navigate.

I've only scratched the surface of what its all about.  The best way to find out more is to download it.

Personally, I think it's a wonderful experience, and yet another way in which the iPad is being used to its full advantage.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - Oops!

Celebrating 100 years of football at Dean Court, The Cherries were looking to add to the party with another home win.  Unfortunately, they stumbled, with their first home defeat in three games, against Hartlepool.
It was a disappointing result.  They were behind at the break, but came out fighting and had many more attempts on target.  However, it wasn't to be, and the visitors took the three points away with them.

You can see the video highlights here.

The result drops Bournemouth to fifth in the league, still in the play-offs, and only six points off the leaders, Brighton.  That's how close it is.

Tonight, they're in FA Cup action, in the re-scheduled game against Notts County.

League action continues next Saturday, when they travel to Rochdale.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review - Sunday Times iPad Edition

This might seem like a strange 'app' to review; but having looked at it, I think it's absolutely, brilliantly, produced.  Yesterday, The Sunday Times launched its very own iPad edition.

First of all, let me caveat this post by saying that I don't normally read The Sunday Times (or The Times!)  I occasionally buy it, but it's certainly not a regular read.

I downloaded and skimmed through the various sections of the sample editions (actually last weeks paper).  Yes; every one of the 12 sections that comes with the printed edition is present on the iPad.

Not only that, but there is more.  More information, hidden nuggets, and videos. It's really very clever.

You can 'stretch' the videos to full screen too.  Bear in mind that you will need an internet connection to play them.

It goes without saying that, on a screen with such a high resolution, the quality of the photos are staggering too.

Each section is downloaded individually, which means you can read as they download, speeding up the time before you can start reading.  

This really is taking full advantage of the iPad.
For those that need bigger print, rotate the device to portrait and a text only version of the article is displayed, which can then be zoomed with the established 'pinch' method. Excellent.

It's advertised on the App Store as FREE; however, that's for the library; you still need to pay for the individual 'paper'.

Each week, individually, costs £1.79.  Although, you can sign up for £2/week, and receive The Times and The Sunday Times on iPad (and their website editions too).  I have to say, The Times iPad edition is not as good - there's very little interaction.

If you're a regular reader, or, like me, dip in and out once in a while, this is a great way to read a quality newspaper.

However, this is a review, and that means bad as well as good.  When I went to download the paper yesterday morning, where was it?  Who knows.  For some reason, at 10am, the iPad version still wasn't available, and I wasn't the only one to notice.  As we say in Twitter world 'that's a huge #fail'.
Why bother launching the app without the content?

I tried commenting on their website, to no avail - it wouldn't let me submit my comment!! All-in-all, not a good experience.

To end on a high, at about 11.30 yesterday morning; I received a Twitter message to tell me that the new edition was now available, and could be downloaded for free!!  So, it was late; but they managed to retain my goodwill and positive feedback by giving it away this week; instead of the usual charge.  That's what customer service is all about (not forgetting the hundreds of disappointed / angry customers and the bad publicity that was taking place).  I'm such a cynic!!

Happily, the content is just as awe-inspiring as the sample, and I'm looking forward to reading through the sections over the course of the next week.

Have you tried the Sunday Times on iPad?  What do you think?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Panto Season? Oh Yes It Is...

Pantomime - the very word insinuates silliness, fun, singing and shouting.  Oh yes it does!!

It's a tradition, usually at Christmas, which incorporates audience participation, slapstick, topical jokes, and, of course, the leading male character being played by a girl; and the pantomime dame is played by a man!!

It's all a lot of fun, and a far cry from the origins of panto, back in the days of the Ancient Greeks.

Typically, a pantomime is based on a well loved childrens story; Aladdin, Babes In The Wood, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Snow White; to name but a few.

It has also been tradition for a well-known celebrity to take part; usually someone who has appeared in prime-time television; or someone for whom pantomime is a mile away from their usual, Thespian, performances.

Do you have a favourite pantomime?  Are you going to see one this year?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's a Coca Cola Christmas

Each year, somehow, the Coca Cola advert seems to mark the start of the Christmas season.

You know the one; with the big trucks driving through towns, with the Christmas lights turning on as they pass.  It's a heart-warming ad, and brings cheer and delight to all who watch it.

It was first run over 4 years ago; and still we enjoy it.

Here it is...

This year, another ad has been produced.  I've not seen this one on TV, but here it is - Snow Globes from Coca Cola...

Another magical advert; at a magical time of year.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - Match Postponed (again!)

Due to the recent bad weather, the FA Cup draw between The Cherries and Notts County has been postponed twice, due to a frozen pitch.  However, the match is now scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

If they win, the boys will have earned a third round match against Sunderland.

Before that though, they have a League One game at home to Hartlepool on Saturday.  Hartlepool currently lie just below the mid-way point in the table; and, on paper pose little threat to the current form shown by AFC Bournemouth; who are currently 3rd in the league.

Of course, now I've written that, watch The Cherries crumble at the weekend!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Michael Buble - Hollywood

Last night I reviewed the new album from the Black Eyed Peas.

Tonight; I bring you Michael Buble. (Why can't I add an accent above the 'e'?)

I love this guy; in a very manly way; I certainly have no intention of throwing myself at him, like the ladies do; but I think his music is great, and this is a good song. The video is a lot of fun too.

My only complaint is that this particular track was added to his latest 'Crazy Love' album, after it was originally released, which seems a little like profiteering to me.  I won't buy the album again, just for the sake of one song!

Why do they do that?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Review - Black Eyed Peas - The Beginning

Now, this might surprise you, but one of my favourite groups is the Black Eyed Peas. I know you're going to want to know why, and, honestly, I'm not sure.

I've never really been 'into' techno / electronic music; I'm much more of a jazz / middle of the road man; but there's something about the inane way that Will.I.Am puts this stuff together that makes it very listenable - and fun to 'bop' too (even when I should be working!)

So, hot on the heels of last years "The E.N.D", I was pleased to see their new album, "The Beginning", when it was released recently; and the new single "The Time (Dirty Bit)" has the qualities I enjoy.  Beautifully sampling the start of the classic from the film Dirty Dancing, it hooks you in and away they go.

There are some other stand-out tracks: such as "Love You Long Time"; and Fergie is great on "Whenever".
"Play It Loud" certainly benefits from turning the volume up.

Unfortunately there isn't much of Fergie performing solo, which is a shame; but that doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of this album.

"The Beginning" is a 'happy' album, and I guarantee you'll be smiling, tapping your feet and generally enjoying this latest offering.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Snow Fun

This is going back a few years (6 years to be precise).
I found a video of the two oldest boys, going sledging.  Alright, not exactly sledging, but being dragged along; to the top of a slope, in the park.

Those of you that know them now; can you believe they were once this cute?

The question is, we've had a White Chanukah, but, will it be a White Christmas this year?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Potters Wheel

I've been sitting here for the last couple of hours, and my mind has gone blank.

Totally... Blank.

I had this idea to write about, and its gone! Even staring out of the window, at the snow-covered trees, weak sunlight and passing traffic, hasn't helped me to remember.

What was it??? Well, this really isn't going to make for much of a post this evening; so here's the Potters Wheel to fill in the time...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Countdown to Chanukah - It's Here

Tonight, we light the first candle, for Chanukah.

As a special treat, here's a song by the actor Adam Sandler. With over 3.5 million views on YouTube, it's become a Chanukah classic. You have to listen carefully, but it's quite catchy too...

Happy Chanukah Everyone

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Countdown to Chanukah - Day 2

Last night, you saw and heard the story about Chanukah.  We celebrate it by lighting eight candles, on the Menorah. One extra candle each night, for eight nights, and singing songs.

For some reason; this is also when we give our children presents!! Now, whether this is in direct relation to the closeness of Christmas, or there is another reason, I don't know; but each family does things slightly differently.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Countdown to Chanukah - Day 1

This Wednesday, we light the first of the Chanukah candles.  For my non-Jewish friends, the 'C' is silent; it's pronounced Hanukah.

Chanukah is the festival of light, and celebrates the time the Maccabi's won the war against the Greeks.  This video is a good, light way, to hear and watch the story.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Airkix - Flying Free

Yesterday, we took the two oldest, and a couple of friends, to experience the freedom of flying.

Airkix, in Manchester (there's another at Milton Keynes) is an indoor sky-diving experience.

The session starts with a video presentation; explaining the basics of what you need to do; followed by an instructor, with more in-depth advice.  Reassuringly, you're not told to just throw yourself in, but an instructor is with you, helping, guiding and, through the use of sign-language, get you to fly independently.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review - TuneIn Radio

 I discovered this app the other day, available on iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

Listen to and record over 40,000 radio stations, including thousands of AM/FM local stations.
Radio streaming has never been so easy.  This isn't a free app - it costs a whopping £1.19; but the quality of the broadcasts is superb.
Start the programme, and it will identify where you are; however, you can select your listening pleasure either by choosing a category of programme, or genre of music.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I just discovered Miranda.

Yes - Miranda Hart.  It's a sitcom on BBC2, and I first saw it on the BBC iPlayer, when I was looking for something to watch.

It's very funny; I've only seen episode 2 of the second series, so there's plenty to catch up on, but; if you haven't seen it, then give it a go.  BBC 2 on Mondays, at 8.30

Here's a clip from this weeks episode; although I don't think it's the funniest part of the show!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - Sky Sports Football Score Centre

I've not done a review for a while, so here's one for a BlackBerry app, which works brilliantly.

Many of you know that I'm not a huge football fan; but I do follow The Cherries; as has been written about weekly on this very blog.

 The Sky Sports Football Score Centre is, amazingly, free to download and use; what's better is that it isn't riddled with adverts either.

Once downloaded, you can set your favourite team, to follow and what you want to display on the front screen.

There's a full fixture list, that shows, in real time, where your team sits; and you can also choose other leagues to follow; including the French, Italian, German and many more.

Possibly the best part is the integration with the BlackBerry messaging system, so that when a goal is scored, or red card given, during a game which your team is playing, you will get a notification instantly.

In fact, it's not just the messaging system.  The fixture list is also synchronised with your BlackBerry calendar - so, now you won't forget about a match!!

If you're out and about, or too busy to follow, or the game isn't televised (which, the Bournemouth games aren't), then it's a great way to keep in touch with the action.

Plus, there's also commentary on the game, updated frequently.

You can see the various options here - including the teams being fielded, stats on each player (with photo) and match statistics.

Now, if I find this interesting, for just a couple of clubs, imagine the football fan who can't get enough!!

This is a cracking application; which you can run when there's a match, and leave off (to save battery) when you don't need it.

Available for most devices, with OS4.6 and higher (and supported on touch screens too) you can download it from BlackBerry App World.

In the interest of cross-platform reviews; this app is also available for the iPhone, iPod Touch (but not specifically for the iPad) via the App Store.  On these devices, if you have a subscription, you can also watch video highlights.

Monday, November 22, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - Score Draw

It was a bit of a disappointing weekend for The Cherries, as they lost their 2-0 advantage over Leyton Orient, and finished with a draw.  The boys have been playing well lately, and it was a shame they couldn't consolidate their playing form into a win.

However, they remain 4th in League One, so, as long as they don't let it get to them, there's no reason why they can't continue to impress and move on.

The full match report can be found here.

Next up; they're at home to Yeovil, tomorrow night.  Yeovil are currently in the relegation zone, second from bottom.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Freelance - A mercenary assault on business?

Once again, November 23rd is National Freelancers Day
There are 1.4 million freelancers in the UK and the flexibility added by this community is contributing some £21 Billion to UK GDP - the value of this resource has never been more significant.
The dictionary definition is:

free-lance or free-lancer - a self-employed person working, or available to work, for a number of businesses, rather than be committed to one, and usually hired for a limited period.

free lance or free lancer - a mercenary soldier in medieval Europe.

Now, I certainly don't believe I'm a mercenary soldier, however, I am available to work for a number of businesses, under contract to them. My contracts are usually 3-monthly; in other words, I am either extended by the company, or my contract may not be renewed.  I've been very lucky, in that my contract has been renewed regularly; but there is always an element of doubt.  Especially in the current economic climate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cityscapes - Sydney

Like sunshine? 
Like living by the water? 
Like a relaxing outdoors lifestyle?  

Sydney has it all.  This isn't a sales pitch.  I'm just telling you how I experienced it.
Cosmopolitan living, great shops, good food and, if I'm honest, friendly people too.

From the first settlers (those rogues shipped to the colony!) to the £10 Poms, and everyone else, most Australians have a European heritage; and that is reflected in the building style, and the art.

Due to it's climate, Australia in general is very much an outdoor way of life.  This is highlighted in Sydney, as workers cross the huge harbour on their daily commute.  The vistas are fantastic.

There are many boats; of all shapes and sizes, bobbing about; from the ferries, to the tourist sightseeing trips and the personal yachts to the small dinghies.

Not forgetting the famous Bondi beach, the small suburb of Manly and the surrounding 'bush'.

A little way outside of the city, and you can visit the Blue Mountains, so called because of the haze given off by the eucalyptus trees.

Sydney is one of my favourite cities in the world. The famous bridge spanning north to south; the Opera House, with its distinctive roof, Centrepoint; the tallest building, offering fantastic, 360 degree, views across the city.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is another city that has everything; but the weather makes sure that's is great all year round.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cityscapes - New York

As Paris is romantic, ornate and picturesque, New York is big, loud and "in your face".  

Indeed, let's be a little more specific here.  When I talk about New York, I refer to the island of Manhattan. OK, it's not a real island, but it's the part you think of when someone mentions New York.

The suburbs, Harlem, The Bronx, Queens, to name a few, have been immortalised on film, and if you haven't visited them, then I suppose that is the real New York - the place where the locals live.
Of course, they live in Manhattan too. Upper East Side, Lower West Side, Greenwich Village, SoHo, all contain apartment blocks. 

It's a fast-paced life, people walking quickly, getting from A to B and not stopping to look along the way.

The towering skyscrapers, the old mingling with the new.  I'll never forget the view down Wall Street - tall buildings framing Trinity church at the other end.

There are many iconic images, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, The Statue of Liberty  not forgetting the famous yellow taxi cabs.  

Ellis Island, in the bay, is now a museum to remind us of the journey the many thousands of immigrants made, to start a new life in this land of opportunity.

Central Park in the summer, is a tranquil escape from the madness of city life.  In the winter it is transformed, when it snows, and becomes a winter wonderland.  I'm sure you've seen images of people skating in the park.

As a tourist, New York is fascinating and exciting.  The shops, the food, the noise, the art and history; plus the realisation that you've seen this many times before, captured on celluloid, means it is as familiar as it is strange.

Whatever time of year you visit, there is plenty to see.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cityscape - Paris

The Eiffel Tower
Paris.  The City of Romance. It's the city, apart from London, that I've been to the most.  It's certainly true that it holds that romantic mysticism.
There is something about Paris that gets the juices flowing.  Whether it's the Seine meandering through the city, the madness that is the Etoile, or the vistas from the heights of the Eiffel Tower.

Everywhere you turn, there is something to look at. 

The Louvre
Modern mixed with the old
The old buildings, steeped in history, the tightly packed streets, the smells of the fresh bread at the boulangerie.

The smoke from the tabac, the hustle and bustle of the traffic, stopping and starting, horns constantly beeping; the throngs of tourists, the beautifully dressed French women (and men) in their boutique fashion designs.

The restaurants with their awnings over the pavement; their menus tempting you with succulent dishes.  The bars, with their tables and chairs outside, so you can sit and watch the world go by; either with a strong cafe au lait, or maybe something else!
Bateaux Mouches are a popular
way to see Paris

Down at the river, the Bateaux Mouches glide along the Seine; the tourists snapping photos of the Jardin des Tuileries, the Notre Dame and the ornate French architecture glistening in the sun (don't places always look better in the sun?)

The Place de la Concorde, with it's obelisk, standing resolute at the end of the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe standing proud at the other end; the tomb of the unknown soldier lying below the main arch.

Paris, for sightseers, is a feast for the senses.  The scenery, the sound, the smells.  It's a fantastic place to wander, and absorb the atmosphere.

The Champs Elysees
view from the Arc de Triomphe

Monday, November 15, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - Winning Ways

Last Saturday, The Cherries returned to their winning ways by beating Walsall 3-0.  OK, so Walsall are currently bottom of the league, but that doesn't mean the match was a walkover.

Josh McQuoid scored his second hat-trick in the week, his first during the FA Cup tie, against Tranmere.

You can see the match highlights here.

Their next league game is next Saturday, away to Leyton Orient (who are 17th in the league table).

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blog Lines

I started writing My Blog and I back in 2007 (this is the first post); yes, you can still read the old posts. 

Initially, it was a means for me to just jot down things I'd been up to.  It certainly wasn't serious, and definitely not a soap box.  Indeed, there was no single direction.

You might liken it to a diary; in the early days, that's exactly what it was.  Over time I have found little tid-bits to add; and it's become more rounded.

There is also, now, a purpose.  To entertain and inform.

I'm very philosophical.

My Blog and I is my take on the world around me.  Whether it's litererature, films, television, sport, news or family and friends.

My Blog and I is all mine.  They're my words (most of the time!) and my thoughts.  I even created a 'logo' to give it a more polished look.  It's always evolving; as I try to keep it fresh and interesting.

It will always be honest, and I'll continue to combine the funny with the sad.

I've had some great reaction to some of my posts in the past; including a company CEO saying thanks for a review I wrote; and others who have liked what I've written and some that have disagreed.

And that's what's great. 

My little piece of the internet has amazing people taking the trouble to read and write about something I've written.

The fact that you're coming along for the ride, is truly wonderful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Raising Money for Children In Need

It's nearly Children In Need again and I'd like to do my bit for the charity.

Let's face it, it's a great cause.

Therefore, for every new follower to either 'Like' My Blog and I Facebook page OR become a follower using the Google Friend Connect link on the right, between now, up to and including Friday 19th November, I will donate £1 to Children In Need.

The rules are simple; there are currently 37 Facebook 'Likes' and 8 Google Friends.  For each one over and above these starter figures, I will donate £1.  The clock stops at midnight on the 19th November.

Please spread the word, and let's raise some money.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Transmission - Lewis' Revenge

Here's a look at Lewis Hamilton taking revenge on his personal trainer.  The amount of training the F1 drivers do today, really highlights the physical impact of the sport, where, let's face it, they're job is sitting down!!!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Transmission - Reactions Test

Quick reactions are very important in the high speed world of Formula 1.  Drivers need to make split-second decisions, and in this video see Jenson Button take the Batak Pro challenge.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Disney Studios - Soaking On Set

OK - Now for something completely different.

On our holiday last year, I (along with my father-in-law) was volunteered to take part in the opening scene of the Backlot Tour at Disney Hollywood Studios.

So, for your entertainment, and believe me, you will find this funny, I have posted it right here.

Actually, I think you had to be there for the real fun; however, watch all the way to the end to see the hysterics this caused.

Hope you enjoyed it.

First Class Delivery

I thought, since you're here, I'd offer you a simpler, quicker, way to reach My Blog and I.

Rather than search through Facebook for the latest posting, or 'accidentally' seeing a tweet announcing the latest publication, why don't you get it delivered straight to your email inbox?

It's easy to do...

Just click the link below and enter your email address....
Please send My Blog and I direct to my Inbox

You'll be sent an email, to validate your request, and that's it.

Now, you can relax in the knowledge that you'll never miss a post again.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Transmission - Singapore

During the course of the F1 season, a series of short films was made, called "The Transmission".  These behind the scenes look at what goes on, are just a snapshot of the work and effort (and fun) put in by the team.

This one was filmed by Jessica Michibata (Jenson's girlfriend).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Event

It's the programme that's currently got people talking.

When an average guy stumbles upon a secret so powerful it could change the course of humanity, and a cover-up so big that the President is on a need-to-know basis, answers can only lead to bigger questions.

So, what is "The Event"?

If you haven't seen it, this is the preview trailer.

Confused?  You will be.  It very much looks as though NBC are trying to hook in the people who miss Lost, or 24 - but with both of those, you knew what to expect (sort of!) and whilst they were far-fetched, they were fun to watch.

The Event is a little confusing, with all the time-jumps, but nevertheless, it's immense fun; even if you could have written the script yourself.  The acting is also non-descript at times; but I won't hold that against them!

I'll continue to watch it.

Will you?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Two Thousand and Counting

Since June, Blogger has been provided up-to-the minute statistics regarding page views.

Now, I don't profess to have big following, but I wanted to highlight some of the stats to you, and say thanks.

Not least that, in the beginning, I wasn't writing this for any more reason than to 'get something off my chest' or just because I'm a frustrated writer!

Now this very blog has reached the 2000 views mark.  I know it's not in the realms of the big sites, but for little ole me, it's a great milestone to achieve..

So, without further ado - here are the top 10 posts that have been read the most, by you, since the beginning of June.
  1. Oh My Word! Books - Paper or Electronic?
  2. iPad - Diary and Task Management from Pocket Infor...
  3. Flipboard Review - A social magazine for the iPad
  4. iPad
  5. The A Team - Theme
  6. Applications for my iPad
  7. BlackBerry Messenger - Theme Song
  8. AFC Bournemouth - A New Beginning
  9. Platypus - Not just a semi-aquatic mammal
  10. iPad - App Review
As you can see, it's an eclectic mix of articles, about things that interest me.  Which of these, if any, did you find interesting?

Remarkably, my post about paper books versus e-books has been the most popular and, amazingly, for reasons I can't quite fathom, The A-Team theme garnered 38 views (I said they weren't big numbers!)

The majority of my readers are in the USA and the UK, with Russia, The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, South Korea and China also making up the numbers.  It would be nice to know how they came to see it - even if they only disappeared again quickly........

Each of the links above should still take you to the relevant post - have a look, nosey around, and see if there are any other little gems you'll enjoy.

There are plenty more to come, including reviews, video posts and more.

Thank you to everyone who has followed My Blog and I.  It's hugely appreciated.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


This week, once again, we celebrate (if that's the right word) Guy Fawkes night.  The story of Guy Fawkes appears to heard less, and fireworks, once the preserve of this one night (and other special occasions) are now 'let off' frequently throughout the year.

Over the last couple of years, the school Parents Guild have put on some spectacular displays.

Correction - the Parents Guild at the school are somewhat adept at putting on a show; and the fireworks evening is more of a funfair event, with rides, stalls and food, and firework displays through the evening.  Yes.  Three displays, each one getting grander.

I'm not sure if that's going to be the case this year - we're in a recession, don't you know? But, I'm sure it'll be a great evening, with much needed funds raised to help put on other great events; like the Summer Fair!

So, light the blue touch paper and stand well back.

Are you going to a fireworks display this year?

Life's For Sharing

I put this on Facebook last week; but it's such a great, feel-good, advert, I just had to post it here too.

Sit back and enjoy this uplifting piece of film.  Oh, I know there's a commercial reason behind it; but who cares, you don't get that until the end; and to that point, it's just lovely.

Monday, November 01, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - Planning For The Future

Last weekend, The Cherries hosted Colchester, for a League 1 fixture.

I was hoping this would be a continuation of the positive form they've shown over the last few games, but there was a stumble, as they lost 1-2
It was a shame, because they made more chances, committed less fouls and played the better game.

You can read the full match report here.  This result drops them to fourth in the league; by no means a bad place to be; I just hope it's not the start of a slide.

They're away to Brentford (currently 15th) tomorrow evening, before an FA Cup game, at home, against Tranmere, next Saturday.

Stadium Plans

Club chairman, Eddie Mitchell has also announced to build a new south stand, as well as the possibility to buy back the ground.  The club sold the stadium to a property developer, back in 2005, for £3.5m to prevent the going into receivership.  They currently pay an annual lease of around £300,000.

I'll be watching this story with interest, as the boys on the pitch do their bit to keep the club in league one and, hopefully, progress further.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review - BlackBerry Torch 9800

Yes! It had to happen eventually.  I've been using BlackBerry's latest phone for the last few weeks, and thought it was time to put pen to paper (so to speak) and reveal all.

The Torch is the first phone, in the BlackBerry range, that runs their new operating system (BlackBerry 6).  This is a major update on the rest of the range, and boasts some rather wonderful changes.

Now, I'm quite fussy about my phones.  I used to be a heavy Nokia user; having got used to their user interface. However, when I made the change to BlackBerry, I wasn't disappointed.  The way in which they integrate the email services is, without a doubt, the best of breed.  Even the fanboys at Apple would agree with that one!!

So, what else is new.

This is the second BlackBerry to host a touch-screen, and whilst the Storm was ridiculed, this is a major step forward.  The resolution is still not as great as the iPhone, but to be honest, this isn't a toy, and I don't play many games on it, so it's absolutely perfect for a phone.
One of the selling points of BlackBerry is the inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard, and the Torch has the best of both worlds; an on-screen keyboard and, courtesy of a slider mechanism, a full hard keyboard.  Some reviews have complained that it's not as good as others in the range (the Curve and Bold as an example) but I can confirm, having been a Curve user, the keyboard is just as good and user-friendly.  Not so sure about the touch-screen keys though - a little too small!!

I'm also wary of the slider - it feels very solid, but I just wonder how long it will last.  That's an observation, not a complaint.

The touch-screen itself is beautiful.  It's so intuitive to find your way around, and it's very responsive to key presses.  It will also orientate itself as landscape, when turned, so that videos and pictures, along with web pages, can be viewed more easily.

On the subject of web pages; this is one area where there is a big change.  BlackBerry have overhauled their browser, which makes surfing much more pleasurable.  Using the pinch technique favoured on other devices, it's easy to zoom in on pictures and pages.  Web pages will also reformat when 'double-tapped' making the text easier to read.

There are a number of tabs to scroll through; "Frequent", "Favourites", "Media", "Downloads" and "All".  By moving regularly used apps into the Frequent folder, they can be quickly accessed, without hunting through the menus.

And there are plenty of menus.  This phone can be customised in just about any which way you want; from ring tones, to wallpaper, to different types of alert; it's not difficult to do, just incredible how much you can make the phone your own.

BlackBerry have included the 'social' networks, Facebook and Twitter as part of the software release.  There's a dedicated icon called "Social Feeds", where all updates can be read in one place.  Personally, I'm not that keen, but I can see how it may be to some people's liking!  If you like your news on the move, there is also an RSS reader built-in, so you can catch up on what's important to you, wherever you are.

The camera has been given an upgrade too, with 5MP now available, autofocus and a range of different modes - much better than the 3.2Mp offered on other phones. There's also a video camera on board too.

The other consideration is battery life.  With all the included goodies, surely the battery won't last long.  Now, to be honest, I've been 'playing' quite a bit, so I've had to charge up each night, however, by customising some of the settings (like reducing the timeout till the screen fades) and switching off bluetooth and wi-fi when not needed, the battery lasts just as long as the Curve.

With BlackBerry Messenger, email integration, access via 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, a full media section (which displays album art if you have it) and all the regular features you'd expect, this is a powerful phone, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Below is the preview video that BlackBerry released, to whet our appetites; there's no need to wait any longer!!

So, in summary; is it worth it?  Was the hype justified?  Are other reviews fair?

This phone has been compared to the iPhone in so many ways, and that, in my view, is not right.  They are two different devices, aimed at different people.  So, yes, it's worth it (even a better contract deal, so the monthly payments are less!), they hype is totally justified - it's a cracking phone.

Do you have the new Torch, or other BlackBerry - what's your favourite app?


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