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Friday, July 30, 2010

Inception

I recently saw "Inception"; the latest offering from Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight).

It's a very clever film, which although a little confusing in the opening scenes, quickly establishes itself as gripping thriller / action adventure.

The story is unique in concept, and I'm not going to spoil it for you; except introduce the trailer



They do say that pictures speak a thousand words...

Say no more...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lewis Hamilton on BBC Top Gear

Last weekend has to be one of the best episodes of Top Gear; ever!!
Yeah! It's a good show; funny, fast and furious; with much tongue-in-cheek reporting.

It wasn't the VW article, not even the Bugatti SuperSport - which went bloomin' fast!!

Nope.  The best bit was the tribute paid to one of the all-time Formula 1 greats - Ayrton Senna.

Lewis Hamilton has always said that his hero was the Brazilian driver, who took driving genius to new heights.  Now he got the chance to drive the very same McLaren MP4-4 once driven by Senna.

This television was worth the licence fee all on its own.

Here's the clip of Lewis driving the car.  You can tell that he is genuinely over the moon to be given this opportunity; almost giddy with excitement; like a kid in a sweetshop!

Thank you BBC

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flipboard Review - A social magazine for the iPad

On Wednesday, a new application made its appearance on the AppStore.

OK - I might be going iPad mad at the moment, but this is free (we like free stuff) and it bills itself as a social magazine.

Imagine the worlds of Twitter and Facebook being presented in magazine format.  It's a clever concept, and once I'd got over the initial hurdle of linking my accounts (due to everyone trying at the same time, and their servers being unable to cope - where have we heard that before!) I found it to be quite beguiling.

I'm not a huge twitterer (or should that be tweeter?) but I do dip in occasionally, to see what's going on.  Indeed, this blog will appear on there, as a means to drive traffic to read it.  I'm also not a massive user of Facebook - I update my status every now and then, but otherwise, I just catch up on what's going on.

So when I heard about Flipboard, I wasn't sure of the relevance to me.  However, I have been quite surprised.  I'm not sure how it can be free, indeed I don't know the business model behind it, but I reckon there'll be adverts popping up soon, which, if handled and presented properly, won't interfere with the overall flow of the application.



When you start it up, you are presented with the 'cover' page.  Flip it across, and you will see 9 boards. In fact, you'll see 6, with space for three more.

The top left ones are free for you to add your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  The rest are populated by Flipboard, and these can be changed as you like.

When you select a board, the page flips over, and presents you with the content.  Twitter, for example, shows updates from the last few minutes, and it is possible to open them further and comment; just as you would reply. You can also see other replies.
Some tweets refer to actual website addresses (urls), and these are presented in full, rather than just the link; with further links to the website.
I like the fact that you can reply to posts, but you can't post directly from the app.  This could be something that is introduced in a later release.  For now, though, I can live without it.

On the Facebook page, again, statuses are presented, and you can 'Like' and comment, just as you would on the website.  You can click on the "Read on the web" button, to take you to the page - although you'll need to sign into Facebook to get the real appreciation.

One great fact is that, if there is a video, it will play directly in Flipboard - I tried it, and it worked beautifully.

If you want my opinion, I like it.  I can see what they're trying to achieve, and since this is the first release, you can forgive some of the missing  'nice to haves'.

If you have an iPad, this is definitely worth downloading.

Have you tried Flipboard?  What do you think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chocolate Wars : Galaxy v Dairy Milk

Chocolate.  The word alone evokes such strong emotions, and from humble beginnings, is now a multi-billion pound industry.
Millions of bars of the brown and white stuff are sold around the world, with a multitude of different fillings.

Two of the biggest sellers are Cadbury Dairy Milk and Galaxy.

Indeed, people have a preference of one over the other.  So, in the interest of research (yeah!) I have decided to submit my taste buds to the two bars.

As someone who will happily eat chocolate from a box, without checking what it is, I may not be the best person to give an opinion.  However, I'll do my best.

Here they are, tempting in the relevant corporate colours, both of them saying "eat me!"

Before I unwrap them, let's just look at the packaging.

The first point to note is that the Galaxy bar, whilst physically bigger, is 125g.
Cadbury actually feels heavier at 140g.

At a glance it's difficult to compare the various calories, sugars etc; mainly because Galaxy show it per piece (4.2g).  Cadbury show it per portion; which they deem to be 3 pieces.

However, per 100g, the numbers are quite remarkable - take a look at these:

                                 Cadbury              Galaxy
Energy kJ                  2200                    2270
kcal                           525                      544
Protein                      7.5g                      6.6g
Carbohydrate            57g                      56.1g
Fat                            29.8g                   32.5g
of which Saturates   18.5g                   19.4g
Fibre                         0.7g                     1.5g
Sodium                     0.09g                   0.11g

On the face of it, Cadburys looks slightly better(!!) for you; although it can't be denied that a little of what you fancy does you no harm.  Both bars are suitable for vegetarians.

So, now to the taste test.

I will start with Galaxy; for no other reason than I don't normally eat it, so this will be a new taste, before the familiar Dairy Milk.

My first thought is that it smells light. Letting one, single, chunk melt in my mouth, I can taste a creamy texture, which is quite soft and delicate.  It's a truly great taste.

Moving on to Cadburys, I have to admit, this is my usual bar of choice.  Some might say that I will be biased because of this, but I will give an honest account.

The individual chunks are larger, by some mile.  It takes an age to melt, but the strong chocolatey taste immediately takes control.  Compared to the Galaxy, this is not as smooth; something that Galaxy actually promote on the wrapping as "Smooth Milk".

If I'm being honest, both bars have a distinct taste, making it impossible to declare a preference either way.

So, will I declare a winner?  Personally, I will stay with Cadbury; however, if I were to be offered a piece of Galaxy, I won't say no!

Monday, July 19, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - The Russians Come Knocking

The new football season is just over 2 weeks away, and AFC Bournemouth have been training hard.

There were rumours that a Russion billionaire wanted to buy them, an approach that was rejected very quickly by chairman Eddie Mitchell.

He was approached by the agent for the Russians, but, as he told BBC Radio Solent "He asked me if I was interested in selling my shares.  I didn't have to think about it and just said No!"

He felt a sale would not be in the best interest of the club, having taken control just over a year ago.

So, the first match, against Charlton, kicks off on 7th August, and Eddie Howe and the guys have been training hard.

At least, before the season gets underway, Bournemouth are at the top of the table!!! Well, I've got my fingers crossed that they will stay there as the season progresses.

Finally, in my last post about AFC Bournemouth, I asked if anyone knew why they are called "The Cherries".

The name came about around 1910, when Mr J E Cooper-Dean granted the club a long lease on some wasteland.  There are two probable reasons.  One is the cherry red striped shirts they wore and, secondly, Dean Court was built next to the Cooper-Dean estate, which included many cherry orchards.

Wherever the name originates, let's hope they start well in a few weeks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Applications for my iPad

My recent post about the iPad was, seemingly, quite well received, in terms of the number of readers, and I did say I would write about some of the apps available.

To be absolutely clear, the applications mentioned here are pure iPad apps. That is, they are not iPhone/iPod apps that need to be scaled up.
These have been engineered from the ground up, to take advantage of the larger screen size.

Feeddler
Firstly, and the one I use the most, is Feeddler (yes, that is spelt right!)
It's a newsreader, that is sync'd with my Google Reader account. This makes it easier to get the news and articles I am interested in, delivered to the iPad, so I can read whenever.
The benefit of this means that I don't need to be connected to the Internet, so as long as I synchronize before leaving my wi-fi connection, then I can read anywhere.

For something different, try MultiPong


It's a lot of fun.

Last time I mentioned Amazon Kindle - this is a free app, that allows you to buy books to download.  The benefit is that the books are priced in US dollars, so they work out cheaper than Apples own iBooks (which has quite a poor catalogue to choose from).

Finally, I'll mention DocsToGo.
Those of you with a BlackBerry will recognise this, as it comes pre-installed on their phone.  The application for the iPad allows you to synchronise documents with Google Docs, so it's possible (although not always easy) to keep a single document updated.
I use Google Docs quite a lot - it means I can access them anywhere, but by downloading them to my iPad, I can work on them remotely, and upload again when back in range of wi-fi.

All in all, these are my apps of choice, but I must admit to having a whole range of other apps; like Google Earth, the Formula1.com live timings app, plus games too.

It remains a terrific device, which is useful as well as being an expensive 'toy'!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

iPhone Antenna Song

Following the saga with the antenna on the new iPhone 4, this video was released by a guy called Jonathan Mann, and, to Apples credit, it was played at the press conference yesterday.

It's really quite funny and just about sums up the whole issue.

Have you been affected by the antenna issue?



Personally, my BlackBerry hasn't had this problem!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

iPad

Righty ho then... review time once more.

I obtained and iPad a few weeks ago, and rather than do a spontaneous review, I've spent time getting to know it.

As many of you know, I'm not the biggest Apple fan.  I own a 2Gb iPod, but decided to get a BlackBerry instead of the iPhone.  However, the iPad proved too much of a temptation.

To  be honest, its' something that nobody needs, but once you have one, you'll wonder how you managed without it.

So, to the review.

Starting with the aesthetics.
It looks like a large iPod. Glass front! Minimilist on the buttons front. Actually, there are just 4 external buttons. The power switch, rotation lock, volume control and 'return to menu'.
The rest of the controls are contained within the graphical user interface.


There are three sizes of memory, I have the 16Gb, without 3G - I decided, that since I have phone, I didn't need the extra connectivity.  Wi-Fi is fine for me.

As for the 16Gb - that's also plenty.  I have four films, a boat-load of music, and a range of books.




In fact, that was one of the main reasons for getting the iPad.  I love to read, and having a host of reading material at my fingertips is really quite good.
As for the interface.  It is so intuitive, you just power it up and away you go.  There are a number of pre-installed apps (mail, video, YouTube, maps, calendar, notes etc).
However, where Apple have really struck gold is their App Store.

The range of applications available is staggering, and whilst many are iPhone, that don't scale too well, there are a vast number that have been re-engineered to take advantage of the iPad screen size.

I'm not going to review the apps - I'll leave that to another time; except I have one tip.  Instead of using iBooks for your reading material, download the free Amazon Kindle app.  Why?
Well, the books on iBooks are priced in pounds (and there really isn't a huge choice), however, the books through the Kindle app are sold in US Dollars - which makes them much cheaper to buy.  And the range is massive.

The battery lasts up to 10 hours, although watching films can reduce that.  The crisp, clear images and ease of use make this a quality product.

Do I miss not having 3G? - definitely not.  I have books loaded, music loaded and films loaded.  All I need is occasional access to wi-fi to update my news feeds.

So, am I pleased with it.  Definitely yes.

In a future post, I will review some of the apps I have downloaded.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jelly Belly - Made to make your mouth water.....

When it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I got some lovely, delicious Jelly Belly jelly beans.

I wrote about them a while back, and as my mouth is watering just thinking about them, I decided to repost the article.


OK - so it's cheating a little, but, I hope your mouth waters too......

Read it here

Monday, July 12, 2010

Watching the Grand Prix

In days of old, watching the Grand Prix was just a 'sit in front of the TV' affair.

There was no Internet, no red button alternative views.

Nowadays, the options are huge, and growing all the time.

Television broadcasts are courtesy of the BBC - and boy are they good! The coverage is terrific, the hosts (Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan) are relaxed, friendly and knowledgable.

On TV, on practice days, you can watch via the red button. On race day you can either watch the vanilla broadcast, or select alternative commentary, or view on-board cameras.

Online, all practice sessions, qualifying and the race are viewable, plus there is now the driver tracker. This gives you real-time views of where the cars are, on the track. It's what the teams use on the pit-wall, and now it's available to us.

Also, on the Formula 1 website, you can view live timings of the cars.

It's a feast for any fan, and the picture below is of my laptop, with the two online systems, which I was watching, as I watched the race unfold on TV.

OK - So it might be a little geeky!! But, it does allow you to get involved more in the racing, instead of just watching the cars go round and round.

So, whether on the internet, the radio or just on the TV, there are plenty of ways to watch Formula 1 racing, and to understand more about the strategies of the teams.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Silverstone - Shaping up nicely

It's mid-July, which means the Grand Prix circus arrives in town.

The British Grand Prix is one of the oldest on the F1 Championship calendar, and one of the most controversial (from Bernie Ecclestone's point of view)!  It has been held at Silverstone (near Towcester in Northamptonshire) continuously since 1987.

In 2008 Silverstone lost the rights to stage the race, however, due to financial problems, Donington Park failed to have their circuit ready, and Silverstone re-negotiated a 17 year deal to host the Grand Prix from 2010.

This new contract means that major upgrades will have to take place at the circuit, to bring it up ti the standards expected by Bernie and the teams.  This year will see the introduction of a revision to the track layout, now called the Arena circuit.

With more twists and turns, and long straights, the new layout is 3.666 miles long. The new section cuts into the centre of the circuit, introducing Farm Curve, The Loop, Village Corner, Aintree Corner and Wellington Straight.

I've been to the British Grand Prix for the last few years, unfortunately, this year I won't be there, which is a shame for two reasons:
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Lewis won the British Grand Prix in 2008 (last year was won by Sebastien Vettel).

Jenson has yet to record a win at home.  Both of them will be aiming for the top step of the podium.

The home race, for the most recent World Champions, promises to be a humdinger!!  McLaren have said that the latest upgrades for their cars will be available to their drivers, but it is up to the individual to decide if they want to race with them!! Wow! No pressure then!

Red Bull will be on the charge again, on a circuit that is well-suited to their car, and also with Mark Webber keen to score something after his crash two weeks ago.  Fernando Alonso, in his Ferrari, will also be looking for retribution following his verbal spat with Lewis Hamilton.

Finally - let's not forget the bet I have for Jenson to win 5 or more races this year, and for McLaren to win the Constructor Championship.  Since they have won the most times at Silverstone (14 times) joint with Ferrari; they have a good chance. I'll have everything crossed.... hope you will too!

All in all, it is shaping up to be an exciting weekend.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

AFC Bournemouth - A New Beginning

I am not, repeat not, a football fan.

I live in Manchester; but I'm not Red or Blue.
Liverpool is at the end of the motorway, to the west.
Rochdale, Oldham, Bolton are all within striking distance.

I'm from Bournemouth.
Down there, on the sunny south-coast.
I love it there.
I've written about it before.

The sun, sand, sea, fresh air.
AFC Bournemouth..........

Er? Yes! AFC Bournemouth.  Known locally as "The Cherries", at the end of last season they won promotion to League Division 1.  Not top flight, but a long way from Division 3, and considering their financial difficulties, this is like Premier Division stuff.

So, I will be following The Cherries as they begin their campaign on 7th August (does the season start earlier each year?) away to Charlton.

The juicy game comes 3 days later, as they meet Southampton, for the first time since the late 80s, in the Carling Cup.

Football mad, I am not.

But, I have to admit I'll be following Bournemouth's progress over the coming months.
In future posts, I'll write more about the club, their history and who they are.

Finally - it's quiz time.
Why are AFC Bournemouth called The Cherries?

Answers on a postcard. Oh, alright then, in the comments below.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Bickerton Poacher

It's another review, but this time it's not gadgets but food.

At the weekend, we went to visit family who decided to pitch their tent for the night, next to a pub. Now, let's be honest, what could be better than a beautiful, sunny, afternoon, in a field, with a nice cold beer?

Well, that didn't happen! The beer had to wait until later.

I digress! The Bickerton Arms is situated in Bulkeley, between Wrexham and Nantwich. It's a delightful place which caters for parties of all sizes. They offer bed and breakfast accommodation which, although I only saw a photo, based on my experience, I think would be quite nice.

The pub also owns the adjoining field, on which they are happy to accommodate tents, caravans and motor-homes. Camping facilities aren't bad, including showers (although only a couple) drinking water tap, on-site shop (in the pub!) Childrens play area and much more.
At a very reasonable £8 / night for a 5-man tent, you really can't go wrong.

The restaurant is "designed for those who want to spoil themselves." It's also possible to dine in the bar area or lounge. Whether for a romantic meal, family day out or a group of friends 'slobbing out', this is a terrific venue.

In the evening, we commandeered a couple of tables in the pub garden and enjoyed a really lovely meal. The food was fresh and beautifully served. A childrens menu is also available.

It's just over a one hour drive from Manchester, and if you're looking for good food in a friendly atmosphere, then you should give this place a try.

It has to be said that I liked this place, and whilst there are plenty of other good eateries, closer to home, I felt I had to write about it.

Check out their website here.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Red Bull in Parliament Square

As many know, in the world of Formula 1, I'm a McLaren fan.  However, this video is inspired from the Red Bull team.

As a pre-cursor to the British Grand Prix, next weekend, they set up a pit-stop in Parliament Square, in London, and Mark Webber drove his car around a very short circuit, at 6am one morning last week.

What's more impressive, is that this took place after his death-defying crash in Valencia, last week.



This is a great promo, from the team the really does "give you wings"!!!


Roll on Silverstone....



Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Look out for this year's offering with Nicholas Cage.  I quite like him in films such as "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Con Air", not to mention "National Treasure".  Once again, he dons a rather strange hairstyle.  Here's the synopsis, as posted on IMDB.com
A new live action comedy-adventure loosely based on the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of Disney's Fantasia.
In modern day Manhatten, the master sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage) attempts to protect the city from his arch-nemesis, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina), an evil wizard with nefarious plans.
Horvath is determined to claim New York City for his own evil purposes, and enlists an illusionist (Tony Kebbell) to help him toward that end. Given the formidable forces working against him, Blake does not feel that he can accomplish this mission alone.
To help in his venture, he seeks out a seemingly average guy, Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), who is recruited to be Blake's apprentice. Stutler is initially skeptical, and reluctant to get involved, but eventually is convinced by Blake to help in this cause.
Blake gives Stutler a crash course in magic, and mishaps invariably ensue. There is also a love interest in peril angle to the storyline that provides additional motivation for Stutler. 
Together, Blake and Stutler take on Horvath in a classic good versus evil struggle.
Extracted from IMDB.com





It's due to be released in the UK on 13th August, and it looks like a lot of fun.





Friday, July 02, 2010

In The Summertime

Summer songs continue with this smasher from Mungo Jerry

Just look at all that hair!!!

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