Tuesday 26 July 2016

Tech Talk: Windows 10 - introduction


Windows 10 is the last iteration in the line of operating systems having come off the moderately received Windows 8, which I really liked a lot. It brings together the best of two worlds with the functionality and familiarality of Windows 7 while taking the touch-friendliness of Windows 8. It also brings forward a plethora of new features with a big bag in the “continuum" – the ability to use the operating system across different devices such as desktop, mobile devices and tablets, with options to synchronise.

It introduces a lot of new snazzy features such as Cortana for desktop, Windows Hello (new option for signing in to devices), Start menu (back in with the old and new) and a new browser found in Edge.

Microsoft wanted to get this just right with pre and post-testing phases with a total of 25 PC builds used for testing and feedback as well as 16 mobile builds for participants of the Windows Insider Program. This is the highest number of engagement of participants used for any Microsoft operating system.

I can’t wait to delve into Windows 10 in future blog posts so which this space!

Monday 25 July 2016

Star Log Entry 10: Magnum Summer Streets, Busk in London and BFG Trail


Busk in London Festival 2016

Busk in London was launched in 2015 by the Mayor of London as a staple of street performances known as “busking” founded on the value of easily finding talent across London and as a way to cultivate the talent.

This year’s event actually became the world’s first International Busking Day on Saturday 23 July over the weekend with events across 100 locations around the world. The first day was to see all performances of visual arts, music and all different variety acts. A lot in store for the day. The day after, I went to see my sis who was working on the day rallying people to become creative materials at hand.        

Regent Street – Summer Streets: Fashion with Magnum


Last week of Summer Streets with Magnum! Didn’t see much fashion-y stuff lined up on Regent Street and noticed only one catwalk installed while most of the street were free ice cream stalls.

There were huge queue galore for the ice cream and a lady actually joined me at the back and asked if this was a line for the ice cream to which I replied it as. I joked that it was quite a queue to which she agreed. She mentioned Ben and Jerry’s doing a trip around giving out free ice cream which I’m gonna have to look up as I love me some ice cream. I got my hand on Magnum’s new peanut butter ice cream with the lady going for the same. I was quite satisfied with what I got without heading into sugar rush but she went back for seconds which was quite admirable.

The BFG Trail


For the past week or so, I’ve been doing the BFG Trail which was slightly hella annoying as some were temporarily moved to Leicester Square for the premiere of the film. With more insult to the wound, some were temporarily removed due to damage. Talk about respect! I know that some people may want to stand on the sculptures but they have to consider that a lot of hard work did go into making these sculptures and the money made from the proceeds of the sculptures go to charity. If they go out of play, people won’t get to see these sculptures and more money is pumped into repairing them. That’s why I always make sure if I do see someone stand on them that I tell them to get off as a way to respect the property.

The BFG Trail blog posts are coming soon so watch this space!

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Apps

With the introduction of Windows 8 comes apps which is not to be confused with the traditional applications found on desktops but rather one that opens up to the whole screen or a module of the screen in a “metro” style.

Apps can be accessed from the Start Screen or the Apps View on Windows 8.1 and can be “snapped” side by side or take up the whole screen. Apps can be downloaded from the App Store. To close the app, either go to the top-right of the screen and hover until an “x” for closing the app pops up or swipe from the top of the screen and head down to the bottom of the screen.
In the Charms bar, the options would be tailored to that specific app.

Monday 18 July 2016

Jonathan Kennedy Enyim-Otebil & How About Studio - Artic Love, Just You and Me

With over 100 applicants for the Design Challenge, Jonathan Kennedy Enyim-Otebil was chosen as the winner and is exhibited as part of the Festival of Love. The work is being displayed from 9 July to 30 September 2016.

Situated in Southbank Centre Square, the work brings up ideas of love, friendship and sustainability as inspired an image of two polar bears to form a pavillion. The work includes braille for the enjoyment of visitors. The pavilion forms a canopy of two abstract polar bears.
The work was brought to life with Nick Wood from How About Studio to bring together the designs from the proposal into reality.



Star Log Entry 9: London Pride, Ghostbusters and Summer Streets

London Pride

It’s my first year being a senior steward at Trafalgar Square seeing that I’ve done general stewarding for the previous 4 years and this was a chance for me to push myself that extra mile to see what I was capable of. I had an absolute brilliant team this year with everyone doing a super long shift from 11am to 8pm, marking the first year I’ve been in a team that did not have team members leave, which I was absolutely proud of. They all done a damn good job at it!
A lot of care and work is needed to put into events which I didn’t realise when I was stewarding generally. But I guess it is because it is in light of recent events such as Brexit that the level of rowdiness may have increased.
This year’s pride fell on the Orlando shooting with many tributes and talks focussing on universally bringing the love and support on the tragedy. 2 minute silence was held out of respect for the victims and their loved ones.

Ghostbusters

My sister Ann invited me to go watch Ghostbusters with her. It was an early preview and e-mail stated we had to be there at 3:45pm as film is to promptly at 4pm with no advertisements shown. She was late as she forgot to bring her glasses with her. By the time she arrived, it was 4pm and I texted her beforehand that we can go somewhere to sit down and have a chit chat if she was late. But I thought it was very much worth asking anyway and the film didn’t even start! They were still letting people in halfway through the film so I’m guessing we were more than fine anyway.

The film was one hell of a film and my sister and I just looked at each other once the credits started rolling nodding to acknowledge what good of a film it was. You can read my RE:VIEW I did of the film earlier in the week.
Asides from that, Ghostbusters took over Waterloo Station with slime coming down from the ceiling and Stay Puft Marshmallow Man coming up from the ground.

Summer Streets 2016

It’s that time of the year again with Sundays of July blocked off from traffic to bring Summer Street to Regent Street. This year so far brings “Transport by Design”, “Health and Lifestyle” and “Garden Party”.

Saturday 16 July 2016

The City Centre: Rebecca Louise Law - City Garden

The City Garden is a floral installation held at the City Centre at the Guildhall. Working together in partnership is the City of London Corporation and artist Rebecca Louise Law to create this installation. It forms as part of the first public art installation at the City Centre. The exhibition is sponsored by The London Wall Place Partnership. The exhibitions runs from 23 April to 25 September 2016.

34 gardens in the City were used to garner the 33,000 flowers used for the exhibition and was inspired by the 200 open spaces in London. The space occupies that were installed fresh and kept up with entwined copper wires. The installation is accompanied by 2 films.

Apart from triggering my hay fever in sneezing several times, I could not help but marvel at the beauty of the natural process of it withering away as it dries out and preserves. I couldn’t say whether all the 33,000 were intact but it did look slightly more depleted to images I’ve seen of it beforehand. Funnily enough, Ed who came with me recognised the artist as being one of his friend’s friend.

There is an app available that has a trail of all the 34 gardens with information on each one. The app is available on Apple App Store.

The following are images taken on 16th July 2016:

Friday 15 July 2016

Edward Onslow Ford - Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill is well known for his work in campaigning for a proposed system of a postal rates that were low and fair as well as prepaid postage stamps with the latter being shunned by the Parliament. His work is well recognised that one of his statue stands at King Edward Street.
The statue created by Edward Onslow Ford was made in 1884 (and 1881). The statue itself is made of bronze and the base of Peterhead granite. It features Hill facing the East dressed in contemporary garments as he holds a pen and pocketbook. On the side of the step that Hill stands on, it features the founders H Young & Co as well as on the other side, Ford’s signature.
It is also one of the “Talking Statues”, a series of statues that speak once tapped with compatible technology. The spoken words were written by Colette Hiller and the words animated by Alan Johnson. You can head down and tap using NFC technology, scan the QR code or type the URL into the phone web browser. You can receive your call from Rowland Hill by typing speak2.co/hill in the web browser of your phone.

"I think it’s a tremendous idea for these august people, whose statues are placed all around London, to suddenly come to life, to actually hear their story and I’m so pleased to do it with Rowland Hill, one of my heroes as a former postman.” - Alan Johnson
 

Thursday 14 July 2016

RE:VIEW Ghostbusters (2016)

Spoiler below!

The Ghostbusters 2016 film has long been in my mind since the announcement as I’m a huge fan of the film series before it as I grew up repeatedly watching it throughout the 90’s. And I would say that the new admission (well, reboot) delivers on many fronts but could do with some refinement. Thanks to my sis who invited me to go watch an early preview of the film the day before it was actually released.

The plot follows 4 women: 3 physicists and a streetwise lassie. Together they have to try and figure out why ghosts are cropping up in Manhattan.

Expectations versus reality

There were waves of fan backlash mainly due to the fact that four women made up the Ghostbusters which I never got at all. The first trailer amassed a majority of dislikes while I found the first trailer to look quite fun. The arrangements in the trailer itself very much reflected the original Ghostbusters film and it seemed to me that they were remaking the original film but with a female cast.

Of course though, no one should judge a few minutes of a trailer to the full scale of a film that is 1 hours 45 minutes long. I found myself really enjoying the film but it does not live up to its original predecessor but I would say it did a pretty darn good job at doing it.

Star characters

Standout characters for me were Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) followed closely with Patty (Leslie Jones) and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth). Holtzmann’s eccentricity with a lot of quirks that comes with it making her one of the most memorable characters in the film. Patty herself has (literally) a loud personality as well as a relatable one at that as well with a lot of the laughs coming from her. Kevin is the hot-totty-that-isn’t-always-with-it and his performance I found was absolutely brilliant. That being said, I thought the camaraderie between the other two main characters Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) played off each other and made the film that much more important than it would be coming to the end.
A lot of humour actually comes through with these characters especially from Kevin who is a surprise for me as Hemsworth really done a great job with his character. Not all of the humour was particularly on par though such as the scene of the meeting with Thomas Shanks (Abby and Holtzmann’s boss and ex-boss) who plays out jokes that have already become too clich├ęd and completely misses the boat with the audience and myself as I found in the screening room.

Frights, action and special effects

I jumped right out of my seat at the beginning of the film when the first paranormal hit came out expectedly and unexpectedly in the Aldridge Mansion Museum. There are further frights which I expected but unexpectedly realised how it made me jump out of my skin again at the Museum as a ghost face’s countenance changes from sinister to malevolence. There was also another scene with Patty and a room of mannequins which was enough for me to get me moving and found it really unsettling when one of the mannequins turned its head.

With more technology at hand, the Ghostbusters this time round seem to get more action with what they’re able to do. One of the most brilliant scenes was Holtzmann’s two stream guns scenes see her perform acrobatics all over the ghosts which was magnificently done. The new equipment they have are geared nearer to combat as Abby sports a ghost punch device, Patty a ghost shredding device and Erin a Swiss army knife which actually comes in handy with ghosts. The special effects though did not take away from any of the scares that the film was gonna pull.
The special effects on the other hand seem to take more of a cartoonish vibe to it which includes the glowing tint of the ghosts as well as the streams coming from Proton Packs. What I seem to have gathered from the film though is that the ghosts have different visibilities and I’m wondering if these ghosts could come in a lighter shade or glow, especially that the film shows that the ghost can take on many different physical forms and not just physical objects.

The underlying messages

It’s hard to say where the distinction lies between on talks of gender as how is it plausible to define a characteristic or trait to a generalised group when each could offer a unique insight and visions as shown in all four of the Ghostbusters. That being said, there are actually jokes aimed directly at the villain Rowan’s groin area in the final fight as well as a mid-credit scene between Holtzmann and her mentor which I found to be unnecessary in this day and age.

There are important underlying messages embedded into the film which becomes thematic in a sense of family. Of being able to rely and depend on each other in that moment of need, which pretty much sums up this film. Moments like these are like when Erin tells her story of seeing a ghost at the foot of her bed for two years and her parents did not believe her and actually sent her to therapy for many years after (a very deep moment!) and the others showed an understanding and empathy towards her. Another highlighted example of this is when in the final fight sequence that Erin jumps into a vortex to save Abby’s life with not a moment’s notice, which showed that deep bond that they share with one another.
Another message I found which can be relatable to many is to work hard to achieve what you want, which is something the Ghostbusters face many of an occasion due to many obstacles in their way, especially with Erin who seems to fight for that acceptance more than the others. Rowan seems to be the antithesis of this as he poses the opposite to the Ghostbusters which is very fitting in this circumstance as he has lost hope for himself and the human race. There was a moment where Abby tried to reason with him saying that there is a lot to fight for with her first thought being food (running theme for her).

Cameos

Bill Murray’s cameo as a debunker to the works of the Ghostbusters is not one I particularly liked. His first appearance was on a television which I would much preferred if it was subtly done in passing which I would have found to be more effective of a cameo for that particular character. He makes another further prolonged appearance when he appears at the Ghostbusters HQ which loses the credibility of his character cameo altogether. Another miss is Dan Aykroyd’s cameo as a cab driver which think was supposed to be funny but it wasn’t. Aykroyd’s cameo could have been that much stronger. Ozzy Osbourne was another cameo that seemed out of place as the producers must have thought it must be an obligation to stick him after a rock concert with ghosts wrecking havoc is an obligation.

Harold Ramis’ statue of his head makes an appearance near the beginning of the film which was a nice touching tribute. Other great cameos come from Sigourney Weaver as Holtzmann’s mentor and  Annie Potts as a Hotel Desk Clerk. A really good cameo came from Ernie Hudson as the uncle of Patty’s that has been elusively mentioned throughout the whole film and a face palm moment when you should have realised it would be him.

What do I think as a whole?

I would give it four out of five stars for the relationship between the Ghostbusters as well as Kevin and the importance of the underlying message, mostly great cameos, and a lot of laughs and a bit of scares to be had. It could do some refinement on what the ghosts would look like as well as the quality of the streams from the equipment. The humour could do with changing up as well as not all of it was all that funny unlike the original Ghostbusters which had all the right laughs in all the right places. I'm still undecided though as to whether I like this more than the original but but I'm definitely worth another watch at the cinema for me.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Tech Talk: Windows 8.1 - Internet Explorer 11 (desktop version)

Internet Explorer 11 is the last in its line before Microsoft launched the Edge web browser for the Windows 10 operating system. IE 11 came in two versions for Windows 8.1 with the modeless version and the desktop version. I’ll be going over the desktop version and you can check out a previous post on the modeless version.
The back and forward buttons were made exponentially larger for this model with their rest looking minimalistic, I guess to add more emphasis on the viewable content on the screen. The search bar contains allows searches to be done directly with the assigned search engine as well as for the use of entering web addresses directly.
Just like any other modern web browser, this is no different as tabs are a must for convenient and quick page jumping and navigation. IE 11 can open up an unlimited amount of tabs which can all be reordered by dragging the tab between tabs – so meta!

On the right-hand-side is the Home button for quick access to the saved home page, Favourites button for your online clippings and the Tools button to customise the experience and settings as well as to bring up the developers tools for the technical developers out there.
I’m gonna miss the good ol’ Internet Explorer but even Microsoft knows that it has run its course so I’m really excited to go through their new browser in an upcoming post.

Monday 11 July 2016

Frank Dobson - London Pride

The London Pride is a bronze-cast sculpture created by Frank Dobson to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951 and commissioned for the Festival, which was chosen by the Festival Design Group with assistance from the Arts Council of Great Britain. The sculpture originally formed as part of a series of sculptures created by over 30 leading artists of that time.
It was given by Mary Dobson in 1987 and unveiled with a new slab as a permanent public installation on Thursday 10 September 1987 by Ronald Grierson, Chairman of the South Bank Board. It is now situated outside the National Theatre on the South Bank in London. The sculpture is listed as Grade II.
Running on a theme of leisure, Dobson adopted the use of plaster and finished with gun-metal, due to budgetary constraints required for bronze. With assistance from his students, he developed the full-scale clay models at the studio of the Royal Academy of Art. The sculpture was then placed outside the Royal Festival Hall’s Belvedere Road entrance.

Once the Festival came to an end, the work was placed into storage until 1986 when Dobson’s widow Mary decided to give the sculpture to the Arts Council to recast in bronze. The casting was done by Morris Singer Foundry and funded by Lynton Property & Revisionary Plc and The Henry Moore Foundation.
Cast in bronze from the original plaster, the work features two nude female figures with a bowl as they both sit on a raised plinth, which form as a reminder of the event that took place on the very site over 50 years ago. The work was to feature the plant Sacifraga Urbium, hence the name given to the sculpture. The inscription carved by David Kindersley reads:
LONDON PRIDE
FRANK DOBSON CBE RA
1886–1963
Commissioned for
THE FESTIVAL OF BRITAIN 1951
GIVEN BY MARY DOBSON 1987
AND PLACED ON THE SOUTH BANK
Assisted generously by Lynton Property & Revisionary Plc and The Henry Moore Foundation
ARTS COUNCIL OF GREAT BRITAIN