iPad Air

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So this past week we took the plunge with my wife and I replacing our iPad 2 and iPad 3 with the iPad Air.

The first thing I noticed when opening the box is just how much smaller the iPad looks. Apple took a decent chunk off of the bezels on the sides and have thinned the device overall giving it those chamfered edges to bring it in line with the design philosophy of the iPhone 5S and this makes a big difference to the way that the iPad looks, in my opinion improving its aesthetics even further on what was already in my opinion the best looking tablet device on the market. Now it pretty much blows everything else away in terms of looks.

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Then when you lift it up there’s the weight difference. I have gone from an iPad 3 (which was heavier than iPad 2) to the Air and I have noticed a huge difference. It is now much more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time. As I use iBooks a lot for reading so this is a massive plus for me so it’s a big tick in the win column. As you can see its now no thicker than a bIro. That’s mightily impressive!

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Next up is the interface that is iOS7. This is proving to be a marmite style OS where you either love it or hate it. Fortunately for me I am firmly in the ‘love it’ camp. iOS6 was starting to look a little old compared to some of the other OS that are out there so this new version is a welcome breath of fresh air.

My favourite addition by far is the Control Centre. Whilst it’s less useful on my iPad, on my iPhone it’s invaluable being able to access the switch to turn on Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Orientation lock, brightness, volume, Airdrop, Airplay, Camera and the Clock app all with one swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Over the life of the device this is going to have saved me a decent chunk of time having to hunt through settings for some of these options and anything that saves me time and makes life easier sounds pretty good to me.

Then there’s the speed of the thing. Apple gave it their A7 processor which is the same one they have put in the new iPhone 5S as well as the new M7 motion do-processor. Jumping from my iPad 3 to the Air I have noticed a big difference in load times, especially in processor intensive apps such as Home Design or Infinity Blade. The new processor males light work of the request thrown at it and leaves me with the impression it can handle quite a bit more than the everyday user is ever going to use it for. The M7 is there to effectively monitor how the device is moving even when it’s asleep. It’s seems that it would be really useful for those fitness apps, but anybody that knows me can attest to ten fact that that’s not my thing at all.

I have to admit I was disappointed that the Touch ID that Apple included on the iPhone 5S didn’t make it to the iPad. This was by far my favourite feature of the new iPhone. Being able to unlock the phone and pay for apps without a pass code or password is a major plus so in this respect I think Apple dropped the ball a little bit by not including it as after doing something with Touch ID on my iPhone and then picking up my iPad and not having the functionality it does feel a little like going backwards. I am sure this will be included in the next model Ina years time, but it’s a real shame it wasn’t put on this model.

Having said that, it is pretty much my only gripe about the device. Overall it is an excellently put together device. It looks stunning, feels great and has pretty much all the functionality you would expect with an iPad and some impressive power under the hood with its 64bit A7 processor.

Apple released 2 iPads. The Air and the new Mini with Retina Display. So one of the questions I know people who are going to get an iPad are asking is which iPad should I get? The iPad 2, the Air, the Mini or the Mini with Retina Display.

One thing everybody should now avoid is the iPad 2. At the price Apple is asking for this, considering how dated it is now then the £329 that Apple is asking for the WiFi model seems a bit of a rip off. Especially as you can buy the new Mini with Retina Display for a tender cheaper at £319 with the new Mini being approximately 4 times more powerful and packing a beautiful Retina Display.

I think what people need to consider is what device they already have. If you don’t have an iPad already then the default choice should either be the mini with Retina or the Air. Which you go for entirely depends on your specific needs. If you want something really portable and light then go for the Mini. If you want it for consuming media content like films & tv shows or if it’s going to be a work device then go for the Air. The extra screen real estate will really make a difference.

If you already have an iPad then this would depend on which one you already have. If you have a first, second or third gen iPad then switch up to the Air and you’ll notice a big difference. If you have the 4th gen iPad I would suggest holding on for the next iteration to come out as the only real benefit you would really get is a faster processor and a lighter device. And if you wait for the next one Touch ID is a dead cert.

If you already have a Mini then this this decision really rests on if you want the Retina Display or not. If no, then stick it out and wait for the next gen, but if you crave that better looking screen then the new Mini with Retina Display is the way to go.

It’s a technological revolution – or is it?

Over the last few weeks I’ve been quite unwell, and as anybody that knows me will tell you, I am pretty much the quintessential Apple fanboy so the recent news from Apple regarding their various updates were something I have been quite looking forward to hearing.

 

When I first heard about the original iPhone I really didn’t think it would ever equate to much, and after seeing a couple of generations I realized just how wrong I was there. Then after the 3GS had been out for a while and I saw those around me getting this shiny new device that was doing things I wanted to do that I hadn’t seen on any phone previously I became quite jealous and so I had to take it upon myself to send my wife to go and get me this newfangled device. And that was it – that’s where my obsession with the fruit started. Since that day I have owned pretty much every version of the iPhone excluding the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G and the new iPhone 5c. That means I have owned or still own the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S (x2 though one is for work), iPhone 5 and now the iPhone 5S, the original iPad and the iPad with Retina Display.

 

If you combine that with the other iOS devices in our household, that’s an iPod 4th gen, another iPhone 5, 2 original iPad minis & Apple TV as well as my Mac. As you can see, Apple has become a central entertain hub for my household.

 

So a few weeks back Apple announced 2 new iPhones, the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C. I pretty much dismissed the iPhone 5C out of hand as to me it looks like a step backwards with its plastic casing. Having handled one it certainly doesn’t feel cheap, but its not of the same build quality as my iPhone 5 was, and as I’m not really interested in the different colours that its comes in, and because I am put off by the plastic and the fact that it is effectively just a repackaged iPhone 5 I decided against this device.

 

Instead I opted to go for the new iPhone 5S, and I went down the Gold route seeing as how I have owned both black and white iPhones I wanted to go for something different. I was worried initially that it would look a bit tacky but the champagne colour is very understated and it really does look stunningly gorgeous and I am really happy that I replaced by black iPhone 5 with this device.

 

Features wise there is one feature on this phone that stands it above all other phones and that it Touch ID. This is an amazing feature to have on the device meaning only my fingerprints can unlock it. You do still have to set up a passcode as a failsafe just in case you have an industrial accident and lose your fingers and the phone allows you to unlock using either, but it was brilliant watching my mother in law try to unlock my phone and failing, and the look of disbelief when I simple placed my finger on the home button was priceless.

 

Add to this the fact that you can configure iTunes and App store purchases to be authorized using Touch ID, this has fast become my favourite feature ever on any iOS device that is probably used 50 times a day or more, unlike Siri which I initially thought was brilliant, but has since become a novelty that rarely gets used.  This has created one small issue for me though. Every time I go to use one of the other iOS devices I keep trying to use Touch ID and it takes my brain a second to realize they don’t have it so is certainly making my other devices seem like they are stuck in the dark ages a little bit.

 

The other really cool feature that Apple added is the slow-motion camera. I’ve had quite a bit of fun with this. The best use was to film a leak I had under my sink. Watching it back and seeing it catch the tiny individual droplets of water in stunning detail I must say I am impressed.

 

Obviously there was the update to iOS7 as well. This has been a touch bittersweet for me. The upgrade on my iPhone 5 was great, I had no issues at all, and I’ve had no issues with my 5S on iOS7, however when I upgraded my 3rd gen iPad to iOS7 I have noticed a considerable slow-down in performance, even doing something as simple as browsing. I had a look at a few forums and it seems quite a few people have been afflicted with the same issue and it looks like the hardware in that iPad can only just cope with the demands of iOS7 so I am thinking of putting it back on iOS6 as that was lovely and fast, and most of the features of iOS7 I would only use on my iPhone anyway. I also told my wife not to upgrade her iPad 2 to iOS7 as if my 3rd gen device had some slow down issues I dread to think of the issues the iPad 2 might experience.

 

Other than that I love the new iOS7. The new control center is excellent, as is the ability to AirDrop so overall I think I can say my experience thus far with iOS7 has been a positive one.

 

Now tonight was Apples other event for their other hardware. I was a little disappointed that there was no update for the Apple TV and that there was no sign of the fabled iWatch of Apple HDTV. Instead the event concentrated on their Macs and iPad lines as well as some really nice announcements about software.

 

Having not bought a new Mac Mini too long ago I wasn’t really than concerned with what they were doing on this front, but there were some interesting updates on the Mac Pro and the Macbook Pro. The cool announcements though were to do with OSX Mavericks, the replacement for Mountain Lion. Apple have taken a bold step and announced that it would be FREE! Compare that to its main rival Windows 8 and that retails at a massive £189.99. What a move by the guys in Cupertino. I was massively impressed by this announcement, and whats more it should be available today, though at the time of writing this it wasn’t in the Mac App Store just yet, though I don’t really mind waiting until tomorrow.

 

The other pretty cool announcement was to do with Apps. They announced that their creativity and productivity apps were going to be free to anybody who purchased a new iOS device or Mac. That includes the iWork apps of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Garage Band, iMovie, iPhoto. If you add the cost of all of those up you are looking at well over £50 worth of apps. The equivalent Office suite from Microsoft starts at £110, so with Mavericks and the iWork suite Apple is undercutting Microsoft’s £300 by £300. Microsoft may need to do something here as they are being left in the dust by Apple at the moment.

 

The other major announcements from Apple were to do with iPad and these were the announcements I was most looking forward to. Last year Apple updated their iPad line with 2 new iPads, firstly the full size iPad they called the iPad with Retina Display and then the iPad Mini. The iPad Mini suffered slightly from a lack of a retina display, but other than that was a really solid device that looks great and does everything a full sized iPad can do. I didn’t upgrade my iPad at the time but if I had I would have gone for the full size iPad over the iPad Mini simply because the full size iPad was that bit more powerful with what I believe was either the A6 or A6x chip whereas the iPad Mini has the A5 which is the same as the one in the iPad 2.

 

So today there were updates to both. The biggest change being to the iPad Mini. Apple have given it a retina display, and every other update the new iPad called iPad Air (which has been slimmed down by reducing the bezel size) got, so did the Mini get. This means that other than size, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini are identical. They have the exact same specifications and features meaning I have a bit of a dilemma. Which one should I go for? Am I really that bothered about having a 9.7” screen of the iPad Air or will the 7.9” screen of the Mini do me? Or hell, do I just buy both. The original mini started at £269, and has now been dropped to £249. The new model now starts at £319 but does match the Air on specs and that starts at £399, so is the extra screen real estate worth the £80 difference on the base models? I really can’t decide.

 

I was disappointed slightly though in that neither of the new iPad models got the new Touch ID feature that the iPhone 5S has meaning if I do upgrade to one of these models I will still have the same brain fail whenever I switch between devices and try to use Touch ID and fail as its not there. The rest of the updates were fairly incremental as you would expect from ever improving devices, and Apple did like to play a fair few videos of their product launches and relating ads, though I don’t think any ad they’ve done since the touching ads for Facetime when the iPhone 4 came out have really caught my attention too much.

 

So will I be upgrading my iPad – yes, though I have no idea which one I will get yet……..

Man of Little Interest – Sorry, Steel

As you may have guessed, I went to see Man of Steel today, and I went with the expectation of being thoroughly wowed at seeing a movie that shows what Superman can actually do, which is what those trailers which I can only describe as epic set me up to believe.

 

Sadly, what I actually got fell a long long way short of the expectations I had from the trailers and TV spots. Yes, there were some excellent scenes in the film, there is no denying that but I left the cinema with a distinct lack of excitement. Compare that to when I went to watch The Dark Knight, I came out and wanted to go straight back in and watch it again because I had cared about what was happening. I know a lot of people slated Superman Returns but I actually quite enjoyed it and again cared about the characters. I can’t say the same for Man of Steel and this makes me quite sad. Superman and Batman have always been my favourite comic book characters followed by Spider-Man and Iron-Man and all of those other 3 superheroes have had films where I have felt a rush of emotion.

Superman the Movie – The ‘If you’ve got me, who’s got you’ moment

Dark Knight – Heath Ledger’s amazing portrayal of The Joker

Spider-Man 2 – The fatally flawed Doc Oc

Iron-Man – The emotional turmoil that leads him to go back and attack The Ten Rings

At no point in Man of Steel did I get this. A couple of times I thought it might build to something like this, but those moments either had nothing to build up to them or when they did arrive just weren’t significant and left me wanting.

 

*****************POTENTIAL PLOT SPOILERS***************DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET*****************

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The best performances in this film come from Diane Lane, who Martha Kent, Kevin Costner who plays Jonathan Kent and also Russel Crowe who play’s Jor-El. Michael Shannon also puts in an excellent performance as General Zod. Henry Cavill is not too shabby as Superman either.

 

I said there were some excellent scenes, though all of the best scenes come in the form of flashbacks to Clark’s childhood. There’s a lovely scene where Clark as a child starts to hear the world around him in class and then totally freaks out prompting quite a touching dialogue with his mother who’s been called into the school to calm him down and this gets touched on later in the film when Superman has a one on one with Zod.

 

There are a couple of scenes with a young Clark and Jonathan Kent where you can see the emotional turmoil that both characters are having to go through. Clark as he’s leaning all these things that he can do, but can’t use them, and Jonathan for wanting to keep his son safe knowing he would be something special in the future, but the scene I especially liked was with an overpass in Kansas and a Tornado. This was one of my favourite scenes purely because it’s one of the only ones that really drew any kind of emotion from me.

 

Henry Cavill as Superman was not a bad choice, he brought the ideas of Superman to the screen in an OK manner. He was a boyscout when needed – there is a bar scene where he gets beer poured on him, but instead of retaliating just walks out and does something slightly funny, however out of character for Clark Kent.

 

Then there was Russel Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-El, which was a far cry from that of Marlon Brando’s and was not someone to be trifled with lightly. Jor-El featured a fair bit in this film which I was not expecting, from its very good action-packed opening to a good 3/4 of the way through. Each time he was on screen he had a commanding presence. He did feature in once scene which I was massively disappointed with though.

 

Clark finds a ship and unknowingly uploads his fathers consciousness and learns all about who he is which leads to the revealing of his Superman suit, in what was just a cupboard, and the next thing you see is him walking out of the ship in the suit. This scene should be iconic – they managed in in  Superman The Movie in 1978, but in 2013 it seems this was just not to be. This whole sequence felt rushed with no drama, so when you did see him in the suit, I just felt – meh. This should be an awe inspiring moment, but just failed to excite.

 

Now onto the action – of which there is no shortage. From the word go you are thrust right into the thick of things. A military coo on Krypton, to an exploding Oil Rig to the eventual invasion of Earth by Zod’s Kryptonian forces. This in turn leads to some pretty huge set pieces from Superman having a 2 on 1 fight, to a 1 on 1 with Zod and then seeing Metropolis getting wasted in an insane fight. The scale of it is huge, and this being Superman that’s OK, but the problem is I just wasn’t invested enough to care what was going to happen next. When Metropolis gets wasted, a lot of people die – but I didn’t find myself feeling for those people. Compare that to The Avengers. When New York was getting hammered, you really did care about it – and the Avengers were trying to save people – ala Captain Pussy Pants jumping into a building to take out a bunch of Chitauri and also giving orders to the Police. Man of Steel just makes it seem like when they’re fighting, Superman just doesn’t care about all of the damage that’s being done. Go back to Superman 2, and in the brilliant scene where Zod, Ursa & the big dude who’s name escapes me are fighting Supes, you can see he cares and goes around saving people, and because he cares has that weakness exploited. This is touched on – but only extremely lightly at the end so just didn’t feel right for Superman, the overgrown boyscout that he should be.

 

Then there’s the score – It’s OK at best. What this film is missing is the classic John Williams theme. This film sorely needs something inspiring and if there is one thing about a Superman movie that’s inspiring it’s that theme. I still get goosebumps every time I hear it, especially when its combines with some of my favourite moments – the best of them all being the ‘Kneel before Zod’ moment at the end of Superman 2. I know why they didn’t use it, as it’s a new origin story and is trying to be different. However in trying to be different it loses something spectacular in this theme. You know when Superman is doing something awesome this music should play, but it never does and that’s a real shame. Zimmer’s score is OK, but it’s a long way from awe inspiring and never really helps to drive the emotion in the way that John Williams managed.

 

You decide for yourself what you think about this movie, but I think it’s a bit of a wet fish that had the potential to be great but fell short of the hurdle. All they needed to know was make you more emotionally invested in the characters. They could have done this by cutting some of the action sequences of which there are a ton down just a little and give you a chance to digest what is happening to the characters and how it’s affecting them but alas, I cannot change it so I’ll just have to deal with it.

One severely disappointed Superman fan…….

Tech Days

So, the last couple of days have been pretty hefty with news of new hardware and software releases and it’s fair to say that I’m quite looking forward to some of the things that are soon to be released.

Let’s start with something that’s going to have the most impact on the way that I use my technology, and that’s Apple’s iOS7.

iO`s7Firstly, damn it looks good! Bright & colourful and uniform and that’s just the first impression from Apple’s video they used to debut. You’ve probably read this already but for those that haven’t, what are the new features?

These are:Re-designed icons – These look beautiful in the new style – plenty of use of white space – and it looks stylish.

New lock screen – Instead of sliding across, slide up

Folders – You can now put as many apps as you like in a folder

Active home screen – the apps float above your background so when you tilt your phone, the image moves so you can see behind your apps

Control Centre – putting all those useful settings in one place

Notification Centre – get to it from the lock screen

Multitasking –  what appears to be true multitasking

Camera – new filters

Photos – can now organize your photos based on the metadata

Airdrop – share with other iOS7 users

Safari – some nice updates

iTunes Radio – something to challenge Spotify

Siri – made smarter, can do more with your phone

Updates – App store updates automatically update

So from the above, which ones are going to have the most impact on me and which ones am I looking forward to the most. For me, the things I anticipate having the biggest impact are Folders, as anybody that knows me will know that I love to keep my idevices as organized as possible, and with the update to folders you can now put as many apps as you want into a folder. For me this means I can just have one page of apps and keep my devices tidier than before. I just hope things like Newsstand can now be [ut into a folder, seeing as how this is one of my little used apps.

Control Centre will also be a big help to me. Quite frequently I switch wi-fi off, or switch my phone into Airplane mode, so having something that will allow me to get to all of these from one place. Apple win.

Notification Centre is also nice. This is mainly because when you deal with a notification on one of your idevices, it automatically syncs to your other devices so you don’t need to deal with that multiple times. I have multiple devices, so for me this will be really useful and will get rid of one of my pet peeves.

Then there’s App Store updates. These are now automatic. This will be brilliant for me as a couple of days ago on my iPhone I checked and saw that I had 80 updates waiting, mainly because I can never be bothered to go and click on them, so having something that does it automatically for me will be pretty awesome and I’ll always have the latest update for my apps.

I’m not really that bothered by most of the things that were announced and I don’t think the impact that iOS7 will have will be huge, but it most certainly looks like it will be a positive one. Also, one of the things that I have heard people say is that these features have been in other phones for a while and this is true. However, when it comes to user experience it looks like Apple have smashed it. I’ve tried other phones and the user experience just wasn’t what I was looking for, so I guess only time will tell once iOS7 is released to the masses, but from what I’ve seen I can say I’m looking forward to it.

So, the other major news is the battle between Microsoft’s XBOX One and Sony’s Playstation 4. Now I’m not a fanboy of either of these companies. When the PS2 and the original XBOX were released I had both of them and found myself enjoying the XBOX more than the PS2. With the XBOX 360 and the PS3 the roles were massively reversed as I quite literally hate the XBOX 360, from what it originally ‘did not’ include and the majority of games that I played just weren’t up to scratch of those made for the Japanese giant and so the PS3 won that battle for me – its inclusion of Blu-Ray was certainly a big helper.

So firstly there’s looks – neither console looks particularly spectacular

xbox+and+ps4v1With the consoles themselves, they both just look like black slabs of plastic – nothing inspiring there. The controllers have both seen an update as well, whilst Microsoft has opted to leave their relatively the same, with just smoothing out some things like the truly awful D-Pad the 360 has, the Sony have kept the same basic shape for the controller but added a touch sensitive pad, a share button and a headphone jack to the controller which shows me they may be a little more serious about gaming than Microsoft is.

Specs wise they are practically the same console with just slightly different processors, and the PS4 running more spec’d up 8GB GDDR5 RAM whilst the ONE uses 8GB DDR3, so this may come back to haunt Microsoft a few years down the line. Also the PS3 has a better graphics processing ability which again could hurt the ONE down the line, but also I think highlights that Microsoft is less about the gaming and more about the whole living room experience which I’ll touch on in a bit.

Games-wise, I think the PS3 effectively destroys the XBOX. Yes, XBOX has some interesting exclusives but the PS4 has the better ones like Killzone, Infamous and Destiny. Exclusives have never bothered me. Up to now Metal Gear Solid has been a Sony exclusive and apart from Metal Gear Solid 2, I think it’s a pretty terrible affair that holds little interest for me. I  know a lot of people love it, and that’s fair enough, it’s just not for me. The real kicker with the games though is with the DRM. Microsoft are effectively holding games hostage by limiting what they can do with their used games. You can only trade them in at participating retailers and you can only lend it to one friend. This sucks quite frankly. You bought it, you should be able to do what you want with it.

This is where Sony have struck a vital blow at Microsoft, the PS4 has no DRM. You can do whatever you want with your used games with no restrictions. AND the PS3 does not have to be permanently connected to the internet like the XBOX does. If the XBOX cannot connect once every 24 hours, forget being able to play that game you just spent £50 of your hard-earned cash on. It won’t care. No internet connection – no game.

Yes, the XBOX One is trying to do something new – an always on microphone on the Kinect (privacy anyone) lets you voice control your console. Sounds lovely, but anybody used Siri – it’s a pain in the ass and wont recognize what you’re saying – it’s going to be a pointless feature. It can do Netflix and pipe through your TV feed in the US. Firstly, I’m not in the US so why do I care? And secondly, if I want to watch TV, I just pick up the TV remote. I know Microsoft want the XBOX to be the centre of your living room and I get that, I just don’t think it will work. Sony on the other hand appear to be concentrating on what’s important – and that’s the gaming. Yes, they will add features as they go which will likely end up competing in more ways with the XBOX, but they have the core principles right which I dont think is the case with Microsoft.

And finally there’s the price. XBOX One will retail at $499 in the US and £429 in the UK, whilst the PS4 will be $399 in the US and £349 in the UK. That’s a difference of $100 in the US or £70 in the UK. The US as usual gets both consoles significantly cheaper with the XBOX costing them the equivalent to £320 and the PS4 £255. This is also a fun fact – XBOX One is region locked, PS4 isn’t so I may just import mine from the US.

So in the end as I don’t think anybody will be surprised, form the information available I think Sony have already won this war before the consoles even get launched. Whether it be their focus on the core gaming aspect, their total lack of DRM which I’m sure will see droves of XBOX users make the switch to the PS4, or the significantly cheaper price of the PS4 for beefier specs.

In a sentence, Sony have taken Microsoft, bent them over a barrel and are quite literally shafting them in the woodshed…………

Life of Pi

So, this week I have been incredibly excited. The reason? Well this week I got my hands on a Raspberry Pi and some information on how to turn it into an AirPlay receiver. Now this may not excite a lot of you, but it certainly excites my inner geek….and my outer geek. Effectively I’m having a geekgasm.

Now when it arrived in the morning yesterday on my first day of annual leave from work I thought to myself – yes, the delivery bods at Amazon must have known that I was off and how exited I was to get my hands on it (yes, I’m ever so slightly delusional). Anyhows, I got the device and all the necessary gubbins I needed such as power lead, usb wifi dongle and usb sound card to get everything up and going, so I eagerly retreated to the bedroom desk and started getting set up, then realsised – hand on a minute – I dont actually have a USB keyboard lying around which I was going to need for initial configuration. So off I went to work to get my keyboard that I had left there, got home with it, plugged it in and did the initial configuration steps and then went to type some more stuff and shock horror! The damned thing had died, so I was not best pleased.

Fortunately I had enabled SSH (remote login) via xrdp on my Raspberry Pi s was able to log in and do the necessary configuration steps through my laptop. Well, almost all of the necessary configuration steps. Trying to get the sound card to work properly was impossible, as was getting the correct packages to make the thing AirPlay enabled. Needless to say I spent a very large part of yesterday tearing my hair out and shouting at some plastic and silicon for not doing something simple. In the end I gave up and decided to start completely fresh this morning – and you know what, after a fresh install and a new keyboard I finally got it working – I now have an AirPlay enabled Raspberry Pi that is being run through an old Hi-Fi I thought was broken, that5 ultimately turned out to be my own stupidity.

So – happy me!

Also in the news this week – the wife is still ill, so that could be better. I also got myself a new 3TB hard drive this week as my colection in iTunes is threatening to split the old hard drive at the joins, so gonna have a bit of a shuffle with all of that and make some additional space which I am sure I will fill up pretty quickly – I still have plenty of DVDs and Blu-Rays I need to convert to a digital format.

And in more tech related news, tomorrow is Mac Mini day – WooHoo! Been wating literally years to get myself a decent Mac. I bought myself an old G5 Mac to see how I’d get on with the OS before buying a new one a couple of years ago and loved it, and tomorrow that day finally arrives. There’s always been something thats cropped up to stop me getting it, whether that’s the car breaking down or some other similar crisis, but the day is nearly upon us and that is something else I cannot wait for.

Am going to visit my sister, mum and her partner this weekend. As I’ve mentioned before my sister is pretty damned awesome, though she does have flaws. One of those is a flaw she shares with my wife – she likes to talk…..a lot. Now most people that know me know I’m not really much of a conversationalist. I generally don’t speak unless I have something to say. Yes, there are times when I myself won’t shut up, but I think that entirely depends on the company that I have at that time. So as Myers-Briggs say – sometimes I like to go to a different room in the house.

Now the usual thing that the wife and sister used to talk about was Westlife. They split up last year so I thought to myself that I might get a break from having to hear about how many times they’ve been to see them, and who their favourites are. I was right, to an extent. Now they are trying to decide who it is they should go and stalk – and the leading candidate from what I understand is One Direction. Now my brother in law said it best when he was explaining to my niece about One Direction, and the reason she couldnt find them was because they are considered a virus and were cleaned away as such. If only real life were like that. Now I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to enjoy watching the X Factor. I never really watched the qualifying shows as I never really cared for all the awful people that humiliate themselves, but I did like the live shows as you actually got to hear a select few (not all of them by any means) who could sing and entertain and who were very good at it.

The problem is that the last couple of years have just been terrible. Last years winners for example ‘Little Mix’, I have to say that I despise every single thing they have released. It’s like an assault on your ears by a bag of cats that are on the verge of being drowned. It’s hideous. Now this years winner ‘James Arthur’ is a bit different, as I actually like him, and I thouroughly enjoy listening to his debut single Impossible. However, even he, as good as he is will be forgotten just like all the rest. It’s like a cattle market – get people on for their 5 minutes of fame and then get shot of them. Yes, they may make a little bit of money out of it, but how many of the winners do you ever hear from? The only one I can think of was Leona Lewis (who I hate), and you don’t hear very much from her these days so at the end of the day, what’s the pint of it all? It’s supposed to be entertainment, but in the 12 -15 hours of programming they have in a year, usually only about 1 hour of that is any good, and that’s usually the guests they have on rather than the contestants. I’m specifically thinking of the year before last when they had the final and were at Wembley and all of the finalists where laughable to mediocre at best, and then they had Coldplay on, and Coldplay is the one and only thing that saved that show as they were epic! To this day, they are the only thing I can easily remeber from that show. So just goes to show, if you’re shite you’re gonna get shown up.

Now I smell southern fried chicken downstairs, thatmust mean dinner is about done, so until next time, don’t do anything stupid folks, unless you video it and send it to me, then that’s perfectly ok😀

Rise of Hell

So, blog post number 2. I mentioned in my first blog post that I have been a lifelong fan of WWE. I’ve been to multiple events and loved every one of them. I still watch each televised event, although my interest has been waning somewhat over the last few years. It’s probably because WWE is now a PG show, whereas in its heyday in the attitude era it wasn’t uncommon to see someone with their head busted open after a particularly vicious chair shot every other week. Now though, with the dumbing down that they’ve done to make it fit well with a PG audience I feel like it has lost some of its magic, and that’s a real shame.

I know when wrestlers did promos before most of them weren’t scripted and they generally came up with their own material, but now (with a few exceptions) they all have a script they stick to and it just seems wooden and uninteresting. Yes they come up with interesting story lines like The Nexus, and The Shield and things get shaken up and made a little more interesting every now and then, but for me it’s not enough. Too little, too often and they never last long enough at a high enough quality.

I understand why WWE have made these changes, as a huge part of their fan base is children. About 99% of John Cena’s fans are kids so he’s a huge draw for their revenue streams as parents will inevitably put their hands in their pockets and cough up for the latest shirts. I know if my kids asked for some WWE merchandise I’d probably cave and get it for them. The problem is though I feel like they are forgetting the audience that they had 15-20 years ago, which I was a part of. Maybe they think that people who watched their product as children will grow out of it when they grow up. I don’t fit that category as I still love watching it and will never grow up. There are still the occasional viscous matches, I’m thinking back to the first PPV after Wrestemania last year where Brock Lesnar effectively dismantled Cena. I thought it was uncomfortable to watch initially, but thinking back on it, it was actually a pretty solid match.

Anyhows, I also found myself watching the film Philadelphia for the 1st time ever. Considering that it came out in 1993 so 20 years ago, that’s quite an achievement. I wish I had watched it sooner, it’s such a powerful film. The acting is brilliant from the entire cast, and I was just gripped from start to finish. That’s impressive in itself as usually the only films that manage that are action films. I’m specifically thinking of Dredd 3D as that just had me hook, line and sinker from the first shot. Ultraviolent, and the essence of Dredd caught perfectly on film. Awesome.

I’ve also started watching Kevin Bacon’s new series The Following. I was very dubious a first, so I waited until I had 4 episodes on my Sky+ and I must say I have been well and truly drawn into the story. Basically, there is a serial killer that has a cult following, however this is a following with a twist – they’re all serial killers themselves. Now I won’t go into any further details for fear of ruining it for you if you do start watching it, but the story is engaging and I’ve found myself caring for the characters, well the main ones anyways. There are a few obvious filer characters, but the main characters all server their purpose and play their roles well, and James Purefoy as the main protagonist is just fantastic.

Also, there was the return of 2 of my favourite shows, The Walking Dead and Spartacus. Plenty of blod and guts in both, though I think Spartacus may just have the edge when it comes to the nakedness. Almost very other scene there is somebody flaunting all they’ve got – and as you can imagine, I’m a massive perv (thanks for corrupting me through the years Pork Hammer) so I love it. Combine that nakedness with the over the top fight scenes with bright ed blood spraying everywhere, then you have yourself a winner.

Right now, listening to some tunes on my iPhone whilst the wife watches the dullness that is Emmerdale, and also looking at the info about the PS4 that was announced last night. It certainly has next-gen level specs and the controller looks interesting. I like the fact they have kept the same basic shape since the original PlayStation. It will be familiarised and won’t take much adaptation.

Am not really excited by it though, not yet at least. I see the controller has a share button so you can upload some gameplay. I know that’s a function I will never use. So until there is some pricing information and a list of launch titles I can’t say I’m massively interested in it. Compare that to when the PS3 was announced I was chomping at the bit to get one, though I did wait until about a year after release.

Still stuck with a sick wife. She’s in her 5th week of being signed off work. Love her to bits but can’t wait for her to be back at work. She’s thrown out my evening routine completely, though she’s managing to pass the time with a latch hook rug. She showed me how she does it and said it wasn’t complicated. I say Voodoo.

So that’s me for another day.

Will be back to bore you again soon……..

Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch

Hey everyone, my name is Ian and as you can probably tell from reading this that I have decided to start my own blog. If you can’t tell, then you may have bigger issues, so I suggest you get yourself to a doctor to get your mental health checked out😀.

So, what should I talk about? At the moment I really don’t know. I guess I should start by telling you all a bit about myself. From the beginning then, I was born on the 10 April 1983, a breach baby to Pauline and Melvin Tiller, and I am the eldest of 3 children. I have a brother called Mark who I rarely ever see or speak to, so that’s enough about him, and The youngest of the 3 of us is my sister, Louise who I must say is pretty damned awesome!

So fast forward a few years to 1999 when my parents split up, and I moved from a little village called Awbridge down near Southampton back up to Tewkesbury. It wasn’t long after this that my dad sadly died from a bran haemorrhage in late 2000. Needless to say that was a very dark and difficult time for me, so kudos to the guys who helped me through, Lee Ransom and Stefan Harkins who would be my Best Man at my wedding.

A few years later I met my would-be wife Ella for the first time. When she first saw me, she thought I was a tad scary. At the time we both worked for Safeway in Tewkesbury, her on tills as a supervisor and me on the Deli as a supervisor. It was my 21st birthday that she first became aware of me, as I was at work doing a half day in the morning and a member of staff got on the tannoy and announced to the store it was my birthday. At that exact time, Ella who was sat on a till at he time loudly asked “who the fuck’s Ian” at the same time I was walking past her, and I apparently gave her the most evil look in the world, and that meant she wouldn’t come near me out of fear. It was only months later when she bought a puppy from my cousin and I happened to be there, and she finally realised that I’m not quite as scary as a look.

A few years later, we had our first child, Niel Melvin who we named after my dad, then we got married and shortly after we had our second child, Chester John. Both of these two are mental. Brilliant, but mental. Niel’s now on Reception at school, and Chester will be starting in September.

Anyhow’s, onto interests. These include anything tech related. I love having the latest gadget, so could definitely be called an early adopter. If it looks cool, I probably want it, or already have it. It’s no secret that I currently have a love affair with Apple products. I bloody love my iPad, iPhone and Apple TV – everything just works. I quite like having a tinker with stuff when I feel like it, but only when I feel like it, so because of this Apples products just fit in with my lifestyle nicely. That said, I am looking at getting myself a Raspberry Pi – I quite like the look of using it to be an AirPlay receiver.

Next on the list is motorsports. My favourite without any shadow of a doubt is Formula 1. I love the level of technical detail there is, and how a tiny change in the setup of the car can mean the difference between coming 1st or 5th. Yeah, it did have a few years where it was a bit processional and I have to admit that even I struggled to stay a die-hard famine that era. But now the rules have been re-vamped, and as a result the racing is fantastic. The downside to it is Red Bull and that pesky German, Vettel – 3 years and 3 drivers and constructors championships. Very impressive but time for another team and driver to take up the mantle. So, I a word F1 is ‘AMAZING!’. I really enjoy GP2 and GP3 as well, seeing as how these are the main feeder formulas to F1.

Then there are video games. Yep, I’m 29 – nearly 30 and I must admit that video games are one of my favourite pastimes. There’s nothing more satisfying than putting a bullet in some cocky teenagers characters head in Call of Duty, or finishing a multiplayer race on F1 2012,just about in 1st place – I find it exhilarating. Call me a child, but. I love it.

Now I know it’s fake, but I Iove watching wrestling, especially WWE. I’ve been a lifelong fan. The way I look at it, is that it is my soap opera, only with people going through tables or being hit with chairs. Highly entertaining to say the least.

So, thats enough about me as you are probably all bored to death by now.

So, why am I starting a blog? Well, I’m quite an opinionated person. Most of the time I either like something or I don’t. I don’t tend to let much stuff sit in the grey area in the middle. It was actually a Mr Daniel Kelly that implanted the idea of starting a blog in my tiny little mind a couple of months back when I decided to post on Facebook about my experiences with both Google Maps and Apple Maps, in which for what I wanted to use them for, I actually preferred Apple Maps over Google Maps just slightly, mainly due to its deeper integration into iOS, but thats a good topic for another blog post.

Now on to what I would like to talk about, and thats old people and technology. Now I love my Nan and Grandad dearly, but give them something even remotely technical and its like watching a Gibbon trying to do algebra. Entertaining, but ultimately fruitless as you are guaranteed that you will get a call from them at some point asking ‘How do I do this?’. I have received this call more times than I care to recall, but as a loving grandson I always help.

There are a couple of prime examples I have that demonstrate that the elderly and technology don’t generally mix. First up is going back a few years to when we first had commercially affordable LCD TVs. At the time my grandparents had an old 28″ CRT TV and it had stopped working, but before replacing it they asked me to have a look at it, so I did. I was in their living room with my brother and my grandad looking at he TV where I quickly established that the tube had gone. However, whilst I was looking at the TV my grandad exclaimed ‘its working, there’s a picture’. This confused me as it clearly wasn’t working, so I looked at my grandad, back at the TV and then a realisation hit me, to which I turned back to my grandad and calmly said, ‘no grandad, that’s your reflection’. My brother then nearly died of laughter and it was only about 15 minutes later I realised how funny that actually was.

Then there was my nan. She had bought my grandad this newfangled mobile phone, and the one day she asked my wife to have a look at it as she thought it was broken as it had loads of numbers on the screen. So Ella had a look, and calmly explained to my nan that the strange numbers she was seeing was actually just the time in digital format. To this day, neither my nan or grandad have ever been able to master anything technical, even a microwave.

There’s also the in-laws who are pretty cool. So there’s my mother-in-law who’s in her mid 50s, and whilst she tries with technology, specifically with an iPhone, iPad and even a PC she usually fails. The problem with this though is she can just about muddle through with the iOS devices until something unusual happens, and when that happens I inevitably have to go and fix it for her. The PC though is a different story. She tries, but the only thing I can compare this to would be that scene from 2001: A Space Odessey where the apes use tools for the first time. The potential is there for her to understand, but nearly every visit results in me giving another lesson on the basics of a PC. So far I think I’ve shown her how to shut Windows XP about 25 times, and it still not sunk in.

The father-in-law though is a slightly different story. He has an iPhone, an Archos, had an iPad and has now switched to an Acer Android tablet, and generally doesn’t get many issues. There are still occasions where either me or my brother-in-law Steve get asked for help but these seem to be getting fewer, at least for me. That may be because I don’t generally do Android and Steve does, or it could just be that you can teach some old dogs new tricks.

I initially thought that it might just be an age thing in that once you’re past 50 you lose all ability to comprehend technology. There do seem to be some exceptions to this rule though, so I’m thinking this age should be revised from 50 to 60 for now. The grandparents are effectively a lost cause, but the in-laws may have some hope yet. Only time will tell………….

So, I think people should have to take a test before buying an tech. If you fail that test – say amending the volume on h TV without help, then you are denied the purchase of that item. It may sound harsh, but when you’ve had to help out as many times as I have, you’d know where I’m coming from.

So that’s me done for my 1st post. I hope you’re still awake, though my hopes aren’t high🙂

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