Tuesday 29 December 2015

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Apps View

Window 8.1 Apps View allows a view of most or all of the apps in a metro-style view allowing quick glance and quick access to apps customised to the way that you want to view it. It comes as a change from the Start Screen as all the apps are on display instead of having to scroll through to get to an app.
Apps View can be accessed by swiping up from the Start Screen if using a touch screen, otherwise clicking the down arrow on the bottom left of the Start Screen will send the Apps View into view. The whole page will display the apps, a drop down next to the main header “Apps” and a search bar on the top right. The search bar will search for the apps dependent on the letters that are gradually typed in.

On default, the Apps View will sort all the apps by name. This can be sorted by name, date installed, most used and category. Clicking on a sub-heading will bring up the full list of categories in which the apps would correspond accordingly to.

Apps can be added on to the Start Screen as well as the desktop which can just take a few seconds to do so. Apps can be added on to the screen by holding down using the touch screen or right clicking on the desired app to be added and then tap on either adding it to the Start Screen or the taskbar in the desktop. This will immediately position it at the end of the Start Screen or if you chose the latter choice it’ll come as the last icon on the taskbar. Other options may come up as well such as Uninstall and Find in Start. The Find in Start view will locate and bring up where the app is on the Start Screen. Multiple apps can be checked to add several apps to taskbar/Start Screen or even to uninstall multiple apps.
Using the Charms bar, the amount of apps shown on the screen can be changed exponentially by going to Settings, then Tiles and then clicking yes to Showing more applications in Apps View. You can even boot it straight to the Apps View screen once the system is booted, which can be changed in the properties found in the taskbar of the desktop.

Launching an app is simple stuff. A simple click or tap would launch the application immediately as oppose to the casual double click of what it was before. Dependent on the app, it will go full screen or launch into the desktop if the app is a legacy program.

Monday 28 December 2015

Barbara Hepworth - Winged Figure

Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure can be found on the Holles Street side of John Lewis running at the junction of Oxford Street. It was installed in 1963. 
Initially, Jacob Epstein was asked to come up with a design for the Portland stone, however he had commitments to other commissions and so was unable to do so. In May 1961, Ralph Brown, Geoffrey Clarke, Barbara Hepworth, Anthony Holloway, Stefan Knapp, William Mitchell and Hans Tisdall were all asked to come up with designs, but their original designs were all not accepted.

Hepworth was asked to design "the idea of common ownership and common interests in a partnership of thousands of workers" and in October 1961 came up Three Forms in Echelon, which was rejected. Her second proposed design an enlargement of her 1957 sculpture Winged Figure I, which was accepted. The sculpture was installed on Sunday 21 April 1963 on a plinth and was later restored in 2013 for its 50th anniversary.
The sculpture stands at 5.8 metres high with a pair of wings and rods criss-corssing through a point met at the middle. In 1962, a wood prototype was created and then an aluminium prototype was created with aluminium sheets and ten stainless steel rods, which were coated with Isopon (polyester resin filler). The aluminium prototype can be found at the Hepworth Museum in Wakefield, Yorkshire.
"I think one of our universal dreams is to move in air and water without the resistance of our human legs. I wanted to evoke this sense of freedom. If the Winged Figure in Oxford Street gives people a sense of being airborne in rain and sunlight and nightlight I will be very happy" - Barbara Hepworth

Thursday 24 December 2015

Star Log Entry 2: West End Christmas lights

It's that season again! West End bring out there Christmas lights in full show - and being me - became snap happy when it comes to exploring them:
Covent Garden
New Bond Street
Carnaby Street
Oxford Street
South Molton Street

St Christopher's Place

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Start Screen

The start screen of Windows 8.1 were met with a lukewarm reception with some disappointed by the abandonment of the familiarity of the previous operating systems and with some embracing the new change. The Start Screen brought a colourful screen with new colour schemes and background patterns which could be adapted and personalised to the users' preference. The Start Screen became a hub for just about a lot of things with information gleaned at a glance such as e-mail and news headlines, which I find makes it that much more easier and fluid to use due to less management.
At first glance, the screen shows apps and of any live notifications on apps that have live tiles. An arrow can be seen near the bottom right which is used to access Apps view which shows of all the program/apps listed. Top right of the screen shows:
  • Microsoft login name - Can be used to sign out of the account or change the profile picture.
  • Power button - Gives options of Sleep, Shutdown and Restart.
  • Search button - Search through everything or refine the search to a specific area and even gives an option to search the web.
There are options to customise the app tiles to make it personal to your liking. You can access them by holding down on a app or if you're using a touch screen or right clicking and a tick mark will come up on the highlighted app. By doing this, the following options come up:
  • Unpin from Start - removes from the Start Screen but does not uninstall it.
  • Unpin from taskbar - unpins it from the taskbar found on the desktop.
  • Uninstall - uninstall the app completely from the system.
  • Resize - resize the app to Small, Medium, Wide or Large.
  • Turn live tile off - turns off the live notification on the display of the tile.
Not all the apps will have the full resize scale and may just have one or two on display such as Internet Explorer only having Small and Medium. Resizing the app to small may not be to everyone's taste either as some app live updates may disappear as a result of it.
Accessing the settings on the charms bar will give you different options:
  • Personalise - You can change the background and colour schemes that fits your mood, it especially helped me in seeking new inspirations - makes a nice change!
  • Tiles - Show more tiles on the Start Screen so there is more apps in view without having to scroll along the screen for the rest. You can also change the amount in view in Apps view. You can also hide personal info from the live tiles should you wish not to have it displayed in view of the public such as E-mail live notifications.
  • Help - Get tips and tricks on using the Start Screen and other aspects of using Windows 8.1
There are also an option to turn off the notifications for a duration of time which can be found at the bottom of Settings in the charms bar. It can be turned off for a duration of 8, 3 or 1 hour. The charms bar is useful for finding out the time and date as it is not found on the Start Screen and can be found on the bottom left of the screen when it comes up. This can be used at any point when using Windows 8.1 to find out the time/date.
If you like organising your apps on the screen, you can group them together and create a group name for them. You can re-arrange the apps by click and drag or hold and drag the app to the desired location. If you want to move a whole group of apps, click or tap the dash found on the bottom right of the screen and drag the group to the desired location.
To name a group, you can right click anywhere in the background and select "Name Groups" or drag up from the bottom of the screen and click customise to bring up a space to fill out the group name.

Apps can be added from the Apps view on to the Start Screen which will be explored in another blog post!

Monday 21 December 2015

South Bank Lion

The South Bank Lion is a cast of a male lion statue that resides on the north side of the Westminster Bridge. It has a history of moves from different spots near to the banks of the Thames. 
The statue stands at 12 feet high, 13 feet long and weighing in at 13 tonnes. It is made with Coade stone, providing resistant to all forms of atmospheric changes including pollution, which gives it a pristine condition despite being over 150 years old. It was put together from separate parts which were brought together in an iron frame.

It was initially placed on top of the James Goding’s Lion Brewery in 1845. Following the demolishment of the site to make way for the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Festival of Britain. It is said that King George VI saved the statue from demolishment. It was moved and mounted on a plinth outside Waterloo Station. 

Following another run of the mill, Waterloo Station was to be extended, providing a move for the South Bank Lion to his new home. The lion was removed and it was found on the foot of the lion that the sculptor was William Frederick Woodington on 24 May 1837. It was painted red as a symbol of the British Rail. By the power of the English Heritage, the statue was granted a Grade II listing.

Its counterpart is at the Twickenham Stadium’s Rowland Hill Gate, which has a gold leaf coating.


Friday 18 December 2015

Bishopsgate Institute

Bishopsgate Institute boasts a library that is independent, public and free as well as hosts cultural events and courses for adults held at the institute. Opening in 1895, it has since then become a tour de force in opening minds and challenging perceptions. It is not only known for its collections and programmes but it has a rich history to it. The institute was built ‘for the benefit of the public to promote lectures, exhibitions and otherwise the advancement of literature, science and the fine arts’ are met from the initial concepts to this present day.
In 1891, a scheme was green lit for a library to be opened by the Charity Commissioners, using funds from donations covering 500 years to the parish of St Botolph without Bishopsgate. In 1893, the plans for the institute were laid down and the charity set up. Interests piqued as they set up a marquee outside the site in 1893. In 1894, the institute was completed and opened up by Prime Minister, Lord Roseberry. 
Reverend William Rogers headbust statue in the Boardroom
A key figure in the development was Reverend William Rogers, who pushed for educational reform and free libraries. He saw through the whole development and made sure that the goals for the original charitable intentions of the build were met. He believed that intellectual wellbeing succeeded spiritual wellbeing and hung theology and religion. Reverend William Rogers wanted to create a scheme for the poor and to further educate young people to continue on their learning past 11 years of age. For the grand opening of the institute, Reverend Rogers held a ceremony which included a ball, floral displays and a live band. The platform was open for anyone to attend. 
"BI" branding on stairwell
Through a design competition, Charles Harrison Townsend designs was chosen to represent the architecture of the building. The competition was kept anonymous as the choice was done as to not get in a well-known architect. He employed Art Nouveau and from his interests, arts and crafts influences from Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, which is apparent in the building from the arch entrance, mosaic floor, and twin roof turrets. Townsend affections towards the “Tree of Life” themes of fruit and flower motifs are carried throughout the designs. The design flows and is very organic showing off the maturity of the institute. In other aspects of the institute’s design was that they became early adopters of branding at a time when it was ever conceived as you’ll notice the initials “BI” sprawled in some places in the institute and most notably on the stairs from the hallway leading up to the upper levels of the boardroom.
The Great Hall is also referred to as the oyster room having found many pots of oyster shells during refurbishments. During the Elizabethan times, oysters were cheaply obtained and highly available. Townsend design of the hall was to allow natural skylight and floor light to come through. Because many of a lecture was held in the halls with lanterns, Townsend planned and located exits all around the hall for quick evacuations in case a fire broke out. The floor was made with solid oak that was fireproof.

By the early 20th century, interest activities started to spring up with from hobby horse combat to Christmas parties. During the First World War, changes started to come in with introductions to a whole new wave of activities such as social dances, fundraising, treasure hunts, table tennis and badminton. A pipe organ was built in by Townsend for music concerts.

There was once a newsroom and reading room at the institute where there were big stands to hold the enormous newspapers that were printed on large sheets of papers. Because newspapers were so expensive then and the newspaper was free to read in the institute, it became a popular destination to get the latest fix on news so much so that a time was required to be imposed for each person that wanted to read it.

Not only that, the institute became a hub for information in the corridors to the library, which held statistical information regarding gains and losses much like the exchange. It also held job board advertisements.

The library’s lamps were replaced and replicated to the originals and the shelves are all of the originals in the library. The bookcases still retains the step at the bottom and handles to the side so as to reach books on the higher shelves. This proved a problem at an earlier time, when ladies didn’t want peeing toms to be eyeing her up so the reading room was split between males and females. The problem was further addressed when a catalogue of the books and archives were implemented. One noticeable feature of the library is the dome glass roof which is of the Nouveau style. The glass pane was damaged when an IRA bomb exploded at St Mary Axe causing great damage to the vicinity which included St Helen’s Bishopsgate.
The archives holds donated items from charities such as Stonewall and Shelter, which show the sheer volume in the institute’s social and radical collection. The basement to the archives is where some of their collections are held, where books are also binded and restored in a temperature controlled environment.
George Howell’s desk resides in the library/archives, which was restored in 2002. In 1848, George Howell started himself off in Chartism and later, he got involved with the bricklayers strike having become involved in trade unionism in 1861. He also successfully campaigned for urban male household suffrage with the Reform Act which was passed in 1867. He was elected as secretary to the TUC’s Parliamentary Committee in 1871 and then Liberal MP for Bethnal Green from 1885 to 1895. He was the first labour historian. In 1906, His collection of books and pamplets that covered 19th century political and economic issues were acquired by the governers of the Bishopsgate Institute.
Ronald Heaton was chief of Lewisham Library until he moved to Bishopsgate Institute to work as the librarian there. He was heavily involved in running concerts for the institute. He kept on working for the institute and has become a permanent fixture of the institute. A portrait of him can be found in the library.

Courtyard Room
Refurbishments took place in 1994 which saw an 18th century house Brushfield Street added into Bishopsgate Institute. In 1997, light fittings and a colour scheme were both added in the library. From 2009 to 2011, a £7.2 million renewal programme to bring the institute to the highest standards helmed by Charles Sheppard Architects.
Upper Hall

Bishopsgate Institute holds programmes ranging from talks and discussions to social dances and concerts. On Friday lunchtime, they hold music concerts in partnership with the City Music Society. They do a range of courses for adults which centred on language, performing arts and culture. The library there is free and open to all to use, with a massive collection on London and political history including archives of Freedom Press and the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive (LAGNA).

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Tech Talk: TwinsOrNot.net

After HowOld.Net follows TwinsOrNot.net, which follows the same premise as the predecessor. The website comes under Microsoft's Project Oxford.

In this one, you could either search for an image online or upload one and a second image is also required to pair up. Once done, the #TwinsOrNotRobot groups them together and scores it out of 100% out of the likeness of the images. You can help improve it by submitting the pictures after the works been done to improve their "computer vision and related services".

After numerous attempts at finding facial pictures that it would recognise, I went for the "finally" look and my sis went for the "model" look (the only look that it only seem to take - humph!). Ann and I were paired up and it came up with 22% based on the two pictures provided...
Whereas Ed and I came up trumps...
Give it a go yourself and see who you may share likeness at TwinsOrNot.net or even download the app if you have a Windows Phone.


Monday 14 December 2015

Gibbon's Rent

Gibbon’s Rent is stretch of walk that runs between Magdalen Street and Bermondsey Street that contains all sorts of pots of plant. It is a project in collaboration between the Architecture Foundation, Team London Bridge and Southwark Council.
Originally, the site of Gibbon's Rent was a street of domestic properties owned by Mr Gibbon. It is most recently recorded down by the council as being "Gibbon's Rent" which was end-product name to transform this rundown street to a cared-for green oasis.
The creation of Gibbon’s Rent is formed by designer Andrew Burns and architect Sarah Eberle and launched as part of the London Festival of Architecture and Cityscapes in 2012.
The space is stunningly beautiful and can be very quiet or very busy as not a lot of people of know about it or a lot of people know about it. It is a space used by office workers during the day, especially if it is a sunny one. I came across it during the weekend and not one soul can be seen creating a scenic and tranquil route.
It is maintained by Team London Bridge and St Mungo’s with the local community as part of the Putting Down Roots initiative. Different areas of the garden works well with some plants more than others with some designated areas designed to get the maximum amount of daylight or a lot more limited amount.
There is also a chance to sponsor a potted plant on Architecture Foundation's website or donations of potted plants are welcome at Gibbon’s Rent.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Star Log Entry 1: Covent Garden Christmas Lights and Seoul Bakery

London Comic Mart last Sunday were slim pickings with lack of stall sellers with slim pickings and even my friend who usually would buy truckloads of comics during the day only got a total of three comics. I didn’t get any comics myself and only got a few DVDs. After, my partner Ed and I headed straight down to Covent Garden after and marvelled at the Christmas lights in the piazza, which took on the theme of mistletoe - kiss kiss!
My birthday came this week so Ed and I went to Seoul Bakery which serves up a mean dish of Korean food. I’ve been going there for four years now and the food there never gets old. Recently, they moved from around the corner from Tottenham Court Road to Great Russell Street, following the expansion of the transport links. Aside from the amazing food that they do, they have a unique aspect that visitors can write messages upon their walls cementing fond memories and an added bonus of a memorabilia to take away from having a meal there.

Ed got me a colouring books for adults themed around cats. It’s said that they are therapeutic in a sense that it used for relaxation and stress relief. I have yet to do some colouring in myself but gazing at the cats on the pages can set off the cuteness factor!