Monthly Archives: July 2011

Day 3

Going to be a quick post today as I’m shattered as we have walked for miles today! Got up had waffles for breakfast, then walked to the Caribbean festival. It was very loud and very colourful, think I got some nice pictures. Walked back and went to the gym, yes I did, I went to the gym!!! Ate, took some night shots of the skyline and then got into bed. Going to get an early night as tomorrow is Niagra. Meaning we need to be up at 6:00. Night night.

Day 2

Second day in Canada, and it’s been filled with big things. Big breakfast, big tours, big building, big walks and big dinner. The first big thing was the breakfast. Luckily we are right next door to a fantastic vegetarian restaurant which serves the most amazing food, breakfast was eggs, hash browns and toast – YUMMMM! We then put on our shoes and went on a big walk, we were hunting for the Hippo, not just any Hippo, a tour bus Harry Hippo. This hippo tour bus traveled around the city showing us the sites, then transformed into a boat and took us on the lake! Then it was CN Tower time. I found out that ‘CN’ stands for Canada National, and it certainly is something for the Canadians to be proud of. The view was amazing, you could see tens of miles. According to the literature, on a good day you can see over 120km, which is the distance between Leeds and Manchester! After CN Tower we walked back to the hotel, and I had a swim in the hotel pool, and returned to our Vegetarian restaurant. In the evening they weigh your food and charge you based on the weight. To say that the food was fantastic would be an understatement. There was everything you could want, including a ‘non-meat-ball’ which was yummy. Desert also followed the same system, only it was a lot harder to restrain the urge to pile your plate as high as the CN Tower with this course. Tomorrow our plans are to have a look around the Caribbean festival that is taking place this weekend – which should be interesting. Anyway I’m off to sleep now as I’m shattered!

Day 1

Well, at the time of writing this I am laying in my bed in The Delta Hotel in Toronto. As you can probably tell by the photographs ( travelling down was quite an adventure. The flight ran smoothly, the food was fantastic, and most importantly no luggage was lost. Upon arriving in Canada we travelled straight to the hotel, it has everything I wanted, a pool and Internet connectivity via wifi. Sadly the wifi didn’t extend to the rooms. So I purchased 125mb worth of data from Rogers Communication for just over €20, this micro-sim will go in both iPad and iPhone allowing data for uploading of photos and blog posts on the move. $20 is much much cheaper than roaming would have ever been! There is a shopping centre in walking distance, so we had dinner there tonight. I had some flaffel platter thing which was nice. As we were all rather tired we came back to the hotel, I went into the jacuzzi, then uploaded my photos, whilst Rachel watched her dream program; Cupcake Kings Tomorrow we are doing the CN tower, which should be great (weather permitting). I will try and upload some photos each evening, and a blog post outlining what I’ve done, but all of this will be energy level permitting!

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday

Something special is happening tomorrow, I am about to take my first holiday in about 4 years. The last holiday I took was to Portugal; this year we have coupled our last family holiday, together with my graduation holiday, and my parents silver wedding anniversary holiday – and decided to do something special. Tomorrow, we board a flight in London Heathrow, and fly to Toronto, before travelling down to New York and finally resting in Miami for a week. The whole holiday is scheduled to last just under three weeks, provided there is no ash cloud to hinder our return. I have set up a holiday website that I will hopefully upload photos to and blog posts to, internet connectivity permitting. Wifi will be in the vila in Miami, however I hope to purchase a data plan upon arrival/shortly after for my iPad and iPhone rather than pay international roaming charges, to allow easy updating of my site, and twitter. Anyway, all that leaves me to say is that if you are going away for the summer, I hope you have an enjoyable holiday, and that I will reply to all emails upon my return.  

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday

Something special is happening tomorrow, I am about to take my first holiday in about 4 years. The last holiday I took was to Portugal; this year we have coupled our last family holiday, together with my graduation holiday, and my parents silver wedding anniversary holiday – and decided to do something special. Tomorrow, we board a flight in London Heathrow, and fly to Toronto, before travelling down to New York and finally resting in Miami for a week. The whole holiday is scheduled to last just under three weeks, provided there is no ash cloud to hinder our return. I have set up a holiday website that I will hopefully upload photos to and blog posts to, internet connectivity permitting. Wifi will be in the vila in Miami, however I hope to purchase a data plan upon arrival/shortly after for my iPad and iPhone rather than pay international roaming charges, to allow easy updating of my site, and twitter. Anyway, all that leaves me to say is that if you are going away for the summer, I hope you have an enjoyable holiday, and that I will reply to all emails upon my return.

You Can Choose Your Friends, I Did, And Made The Right Choice

With graduation now firmly behind me, it would be easy for me to say that the three year journey was one that I took on my own. They say that you can choose your friends, but not your family, and knowing that my family were behind me for this journey meant that there were seats vacant for ‘friends’ on the journey. The first two years at university saw me getting involved with the Students Union, allowing me to meet and get to know virtually everyone on my course. However knowing full well that I have a ‘marmite’ personality makes it even more an achievement that the following people where not only able to put up with me being on the same course, but were even brave enough to live with me in my final year. I lived with six people in Salford last year, and I hope to keep in touch with at least three of them. The people who I am about to mention, are by far three of the most genuine and loving friends anyone could hope to have. Sarah & Stevie, my adopted sisters. To say that we have had fun over the past few years would be the understatement of the year. We have; watched Jeremy Kyle, had a debate, made each other tea, had a debate, given good banter, had a debate, I have moaned about politics, and you have been so kind to listen whilst I go off on one. The truth is, that as I write this blog post and try to recall what has happened over the past few years, the thing that comes to the front of my mind is that without the pair of you – my year of house would not have been as much fun or as memorable. I may not be able to remember every detail – but I will remember this (and at the risk of this sounding like an obituary), you will never be forgotten, and I hope that we remain friends for a long long time. Harry; the first person in a long time who I have met who is not only on the same wavelength as me, but has the guts to actually tell me when im wrong (which isn’t all that often). You know over the past year especially that you have been both a brother, and in some cases a father to me. The support that you gave me during the Students Union elections was 1st class, and even though I didn’t win, you will be the first person I call when I decide to run for Prime Minister. Living with you for the past year has been an experience that will remain with me for a very long time, as some of the scars are permanent! I will miss watching House, Criminal Minds, and morbid Horror films with you, and working on university coursework wasn’t a chore as our skill sets matched perfectly, which is testament to our grades. The fact that at the beginning of the year your career path was the most uncertain, and as I write this you have got a job with a leading Internet retailer is proof that you really do have ‘The Power’ to achieve what you want. Out of all the people who I have met, I am more certain that we will keep in touch, especially as I am to be best man at your wedding 😛 If Sarah, Stevie or Harry are reading this, this is by no means a finite list of things which I appreciate about you guys. There are memories that I have which will be confined to us three, and only repeated behind closed doors – needless to say that I love you guys, and if there is anything that I can do in the future you only need to get in touch. xxx

NUS Awards & Graduation (First Time)

There are few events that you really do remember in life. Those who have got married claim never to forget what it was like, those who have flown an aeroplane say that the experience of their first flight will stay with them forever; and those who have graduated follow suit by saying that they will always remember the moment they walked across the stage, shook the Vice Chancellors hand and received their scroll. Being the ripe old age of 21, I have not yet flown a plane, or got married, however the past week has been filled with life time experiences, ones that hopefully I will never forget. For those who have been following my tweets, or read the about me section on my website will know, I was put forward for the National Union Of Students – Course Representative Of The Year Award. Over 350 people were put forward by their Student Union’s, and this was reduced to a short list of three, one of whom was me. This meant that I got the oppertunity to get suited and booted in order to attend the awards ceremony at The University Of Leeds Students’ Union on Wednesday. Being Leeds born and bred meant that I didn’t have to travel far to attend, however six people from Salford’s Student’s Union came up, including ; Phil Benton (Chief Executive), Kimberly Neal (Student Representation Co-ordinator, and person who gave me my chance to shine), Caroline Dangerfield (Students Union President 2011-12) and Ricky Chotai (Students Union President 2010-11). The awards ceremony itself was fantastic, the hall was beautify decorated just as TV awards ceremonies are, the food was fantastic and all locally sourced. The most interesting course was desert, the ice cream was vanilla, however it had something in it that no-one in the room could quite put their finger on; so if anyone who catered this event reads this blog, please do get in touch and let me know what that mystery ingredient was. Luckily for me, the award I was up for was first, as the names of nominees were read out, team Salford whooped and cheered when my name appeared on screen. There was a long drawn out pause as Usman Ali, NUS Vice President and Ex Salford Students Union President milked the audience to get as much tension out of us as possible; and, it sadly wasn’t me. Yes, I’m not going to lie I was disappointed, however being shortlisted from over 350 people is still an achievement in itself, and one that I am very please with. Amongst other things it brought some good PR to USSU, and spurred me on to insure that I win it next year when at MMSU. That was Wednesdays excitement, Thursdays excitement saw the delivery of my MacBook Air, and Friday was the milepost of my three year course. My graduation took place at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester, and I was lucky enough to have both my parents, brother, sister and grandparents attend with me. Amazingly we arrived in plenty of time, which in hindsight was a fantastic choice, as it allowed us to have several professional photos taken; the obligatory one of me on my own holding the scroll (which to my surprise was made out of plastic tube), one with my brother and sister, and one of the whole party. Seeing my friends again was a very interesting experience, as we had never all been dressed up so smartly before in unison — more photos were taken and we proceeded to the theatre to graduate. The down and hat were secured, and several robing people were on hand to insure that we looked our best, my name was called out and I took the long walk across the stage to have my hand shaken by the Vice Chancellor, Martin Hall. Because of my involvement within the Students Union, Martin and I had met on several occasions and I am sure he would agree, that we had a good working relationship. As he shook my hand, we had a ‘little moment’ where he mentioned that he was sad to hear that I would be leaving Salford to go to Manchester Met. I promised him that I would be involved with the Union there, just as much as I was at Salford. From then onwards it was all a bit of a blur, I said goodbye to my friends (although it’s not really a good bye, its just a so-long, as I will definitely keep in touch with some of them), had more photos taken, and mum ordered the ones that we had taken before. Currently I remember most details of my Graduation, however I am sure just as the memory of my Bar Mitzvah is fading, over time this will to. However as I am taking my Graduate Diploma in Law next year, and (hopefully) Bar Course the year after that; I will have two more graduation ceremonies to attend, so by the end of it, I should be an expert at it!

OSX Lion & New Macbook Air

This week has been a very busy week for Apple, first we saw (yet another) set of record breaking financial results, a day later new hardware and software were flying out of Cupertino at an astonishing rate. First I will look at Lion the new operating system, and then I will have a look at the new Macbook Air that I have in my possession and setting it up. A few weeks prior to any hint of a release date for Lion my local supermarket had a 25% discount on iTunes gift cards, so I stocked up, knowing full well that not only would I be buying a new operating system, but most likely some new applications to go along with it. The morning of the second rumoured release date arrived, and when I awoke the Apple Online store was down – which is always a good sign. Having duel displays meant that with a little help from a Safari Extension – Auto Refresh, I could have the Apple website open on one display, and continue my day, knowing full well that I would be one of the first to see it go live. Between 12:30 and 13:00 GMT (I think) the Apple Store came back up online, and I instantly added a Macbook Air to my basked and purchased it with a Paul Smith Case, and extended AppleCare (more on that later), so that it would be delivered the following day. After my order was accepted, I then proceeded to download Lion from the Mac App Store.   Lion Once I had clicked on the purchase button the little Lion logo jumped into my dock. The file was just under 4gb, and took a few hours to download. When I originally started downloading I was getting speeds of over 1MB/s, however as word spread round the world, this gradually reduced to just over 300KB/s. Installation took a further 30 minutes, and was a straight forward, non complex affair. When Lion booted it looked clean, fresh and was very responsive. There was one thing that I was disappointed in, and that was no “Welcome Video” with the funky music that we have been used to with a new mac or new install. My desktop iMac is a 27inch Quad Core 2.91Ghz i7 with 8GB of RAM and 1TB HDD, however it was getting sluggish, applications that used to open in once bounce of the dock icon, now were taking upwards of 5. Lion replaced all of this, applications opened in one or two, and things generally happened a lot more smoothly – just as expected with a new OS from Apple. Documents had been backed up (twice) before hand and came across smoothly, Applications had been updated to their latest stable release and were all working fine. Two things which I didn’t like about Lion, the first is of huge debate; the natural/un-natural scrolling. What does work ‘naturally’ on a tablet or phone, just seems backwards to me when using a mouse. Some have chosen to fight it out and get used to it, I have chosen to change it. If you wish to change it click here for instructions. The second thing was the lack of Front Row. This wasn’t a feature that I used an awful lot in Snow Leopard, however I knew that when I did want it, knowing that it wasn’t there would annoy me intensely. From what I understand, Front Row is still built into Lion, its just not compiled as an application. Thankfully Ralph Perdomo has written an application that finds the files and combines them in to Front Row, so that you can either launch it from your Applications, or do so by using your Apple remote. Click here for link to instructions on how to add Front Row back in Lion.   MacBook Air For those of you who either know me, or who follow my blog/tweets will know as of September I will be going to law school to take my first steps in becoming a barrister. A road that will be filled with lots of reading, revision, note taking and most likely a combination of all them. Being a student of the 21st century, all my notes, slides, essays will (and have been) taken on the computer using a variety of software and hardware, and whilst the iPad is perfect for throwing in my bag and taking notes on, multi-tasking still isn’t as smooth as I would like. Coupled with the fact that Christmas and Easter holidays are not normally spent in Manchester and spent in Leeds means that I have to pack up and cart back a serious amount of hardware, which as a one off isn’t an issue, but for a long weekend it simply isn’t practical. I see the next steps I take to be ones which I will constantly have a book in my hand, or notes open essay writing. Something that can be done on an iPad once every so often, but not on a regular basis. Therefore the MacBook Air was the only choice really, I decided to go for the 13inch with 128GB SSD. The 13inch was chosen as I’m one of those people who needs the most amount of screen real-estate as possible (hence 27inch iMac and 20inch Cinema display), and against the 256GB model as not only was it an added cost; but as this would be a work machine, and text files done take up that much space, 128GB was adequate. It arrived today, and even though I have played with its predecessor in the Apple Stores, when you hold it in your hands, it really is a feat of engineering genius to get something so powerful so light, and wafer thin. Lion came pre-installed, and I copied across the handful of applications that I needed for university, including Evernote and Pearnote for note taking. Email was stored on IMAP servers so no import was needed, calendar and contacts are looked after by […]

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2

With the lack of excitement from the last Harry Potter film winging it’s way through my minds eye, I felt duty bound to watch the last in the sequel, knowing full well that the magical experience would perish in comparison to the first film. Just as with the James Bond films, because the story was written by a Brit, we all feel as if we have to put the disapproving opinions of film critics to one side and endure it personally. Just as I started off the last Harry Potter review with a small disclaimer, I have not read the books, and therefore I am not comparing it to how original the book is, I am comparing it to the previous films. I am not a Harry Potter purest, I enjoy a good film, and if the Harry Potter film doesn’t do the book justice than that is an argument for another day – I’m reviewing the film, and the story the film puts across, the quality of the acting, and CGI. With the opening credits rolling, there is a sense of magic in the air, for those who have viewed all of the films as they came out, it does feel as if this is one of the ‘childhood heroes’ which you have grown up with, and dedicated a large proportion of your life to; and as such there is an air of sadness in the air. For those who have not read the books, you will still know that JK has already categorically stated that there will be no more Harry Potter, and even the story like confirms this. The seventh and last book was divided into two films, this can either be interpreted to make more money in ticket revenue, or because if both films were combined, it would have  been an unhealthy length. Regardless of whether I thought the story line of part 1 could have been written on the back of a postage stamp, my life has not revolved around Harry Potter, nor did i watch the past 7 films back to back before heading out to the cinema so I can’t remember where we left the story. What I needed at the beginning of film was a ‘previously on Harry Potter’, a prequel if you will, to refresh your memory, sadly this wasn’t as in depth as I would have liked, and I had to spend the first ten to fifteen minutes trying to recall the storyline. If there is one thing that is spot on with all Harry Potter films, it’s the sound track, the music either playing in the background or taking centre stage depicts the mood perfectly and adds what the acting by the main characters do not. The last review I wrote slated the acting ability of the three main characters, I begin watching part two with an open mind, and I almost willed Harry, Ron and Hermione to show the same level of acting as they did in the first film, however it would appear that they acting ability has not grown to the same magnitude as the characters they portray. Daniel Radcliffe’s acting is desperate at best as he attempts to fill the shoes that the Harry Potter franchise has created, with his two supporting actors doing their best with the inexperience they have. The best actor by far is Alan Rickman, from the very offset I knew that he would have been the person I would cast to portray any villain. I have been promised by those who read the book that the final film would be the one where Snape would feature the most. His acting is by far the most original, he adds a touch of class to the proceeding with his subtle ‘villain tones’. With regards to CGI, a vast improvement on the last film, I could have chosen to watch it in   3D, however that gimmick as sailed, dragons and spells looked realistic (well as realistic as a spell can do), CGI was used sparingly, and I can tell that this time the producers were focused a lot more on getting the story across, rather than glitts an glamour. That said, storyline was a bit hit and miss for me, the film was lengthy and once again feel that it could have been compressed into a third of the time. A few elements of humour were sprinkled throughout, however most of the time you were left with the three main characters on screen doing their best to act out a part that had outgrown them. Looking back on the Harry Potter films as a whole, all the magic, awe and surprises came with the first few films, and gradually got weaker. I don’t think this is a fault of the directors per say, it’s the natural progression of a multi-part storyline. When the first one is so good, and so original, sadly there is only one way to go and that’s down. Having said all of that, was it a good film, yes it wasn’t too bad. I really did want to dislike it as much as the previous one, however no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t. The storyline was a bit of a miss for me, but it was well put together, the music, graphics and emotion was spot on. You could feel that it was the end of an era, and that after 8 films the magic of Harry Potter is no more. Would I watch Harry Potter 7 Part 2 again, probably not, it’s the end of a story and indeed a milepost that we have been waiting for a long time, the film wasn’t the worst by far, however it was neither the best. If you’ve watched all of the films so far then you have to watch the last one, however if not, if imagine you would be rather disappointed.