This Week: Spookfest, Library and Windows 8

This week has been rather crazy, homework deadlines as per, nights out as per and a chance to get hands on with Microsofts latest operating system as I’ve installed it on my ThinkPad and now have a full copy of Windows 8 Professional to play around with.

Now I’ve never been one for studying in the library but this week I’ve actually spent a fair load of my hours working on code and assignments in the uni library. It’s newly built, absolutely massive and there isn’t that many books, which is, interesting…
My desire to get out of the flat has been an encouragement for me to simply walk up there and get some stuff done. There’s no distractions and everyone else there is working so it guilt trips me into working more. I’ve usually been able to do what ever work I’ve needed to do in my room, especially last year when I didn’t share but this year it seems a lot harder to do that.

I’ve been looking forward to this week ever since Tiesto got cancelled. I’ve been desperate to get my super-club fix and Spookfest was the only thing that I had left that was booked. With an artist being dropped from the lineup (example) I questioned whether every ticket I purchased would end in dismay. But I still had Benny Benassi, Datsik and Calvin Harris to keep me entertained in a night of mad dance music at the Oracle Arena, Oakland.  The night really didn’t disappoint  each DJ absolutely smashed their set and the crowd was insane. There were some notable downsides to the night, one being that Calvin Harris finished his set after the BART had stopped running so we had to traverse back on the devastating late night transport system that involved 3 hours and 4 buses. The only other downside was that after handing over a $20 note for 2 beers we were told we required an extra $2 to afford them! I know stadium prices but $22 for 2 beers is absolutely insane!

 

So as previously mentioned, I’ve installed Windows 8 to join Windows 7 and Ubuntu on the ThinkPad X1 and have to say so far I’m really enjoying it. I’ve heard countless criticisms of using the mouse with the interface that was clearly built for touch but I’ve not had such a bad time since installing the new drivers from Lenovo that allow gestures to be used to control the interface. In fact, the new drivers have given me a new found love for the trackpad on my ThinkPad as it always had a very strange feel to it with it’s raised grid for tactile feedback. Since installing the new drivers it feels a lot more fluent, not as fluent as the MacBook Pro but in terms of trackpads, Apple’s is very hard to beat.

The App selection for Windows 8 has been very limited thus far and even finding the basic apps I expect to find on any new device I buy, I couldn’t find. I’m waiting for a decent twitter app, tweetdeck needs to have the modern UI applied to it. Skype is beautiful and Microsoft have really done a good job with it! I really think Microsoft is on to a winner here as long as developers get behind it ASAP. The reviews of various tech blogs are pretty fair in their reviews, the ones I’ve read have ranged from 7.5 to about 9 out of ten which I think is pretty fair at the moment. Microsoft are the kings of updates though so let’s not just expect Windows 8 to be in it’s current stage for the rest of time, it will grow and it will get better.

The Anti-Me

For my entire life I’ve been an advocate of technology, the future and in general anything that is forward thinking. Things that will speed up my life, increase my access to entertainment, make my life more enjoyable as a whole and nearly all of this is through my passion for tech.

I use two smartphones on a daily basis, countless computers, games consoles and gadgets. I am constantly checking my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and just about everything the internet has to offer. One could easily assume that this is my ideal. In my ideal world I will be getting a bullet train from Newport to London. I’ll then use my phone as my Oyster card that will get me to where I’m going in a driverless train that is efficient, clean and sporting dynamic screens for advertising, passenger information and news updates. I won’t be pulling my phone out to check the weather tomorrow, I’ll just bring it up on my contact lens. I will never be out of signal, I’ll have fast internet underground, overground wombling free. I’ll never order milk and bread again it will simply turn up at my door the day it goes out of date or the day after it’s been consumed. Yes, technology is going to make this all possible and it’s all going to happen in my life time and that’s lovely.

There is however another part of me that is the complete opposite of all this. I have a side to me that would much rather live in the country in a house with a log-fire, an armchair and fairly well stocked whiskey cabinet. Maybe a TV at most, a landline phone with a book of numbers next to it. My dog, some fairly conservative clothes and a shelf full of books that are worth reading more than once. A computer that goes un-used but is there to email the family. A pub down the road full of locals, who all sit where they sit and drink what they drink. There is a part of me that wants to have an old aga, a kettle that doesn’t plug into a wall but sits proudly on the stove. I sometimes want to throw my phone away, ignore the existence of the internet and just live the simple life. I don’t doubt that I’d be extremely happy in doing so but what’s strange is these two ideologies are polar opposites. I’d love to work out a way in which these two lives can cross over, maybe a week in the city, week in the country sort of lifestyle which involves me leaving town to get some peace and quiet.

The Anti-Me would more than happily never touch a computer again in his life. In fact, I was extremely happy when I worked in the pub and the pub’s closest thing to a computer was the til and that had about 3 functions. Our billing was done on paper, the hotel booking were jotted down in old leather books that were then stored for future reference. There were no digital keys, just old metal keys on hooks with big red key rings. I couldn’t send an order to the kitchen via a computer I had to walk out the back and tell the chef and your order would never ever ever get taken on a PDA device. I worked for 8 hour shifts without a glimpse of the internet and usually loved every hour of it only to return home and plug back in. Check the social networks, check the blogs, make sure I know that the new update is coming out for iOS and that Google haven’t changed their direction on making automated cars.

Technology has it’s upsides and downsides, and ignorance may be bliss but now I’m so heavily involved in a world of technology I think it would be hard to say goodbye. In fact I’m pretty sure I don’t want to say goodbye. I do in fact want to strike a balance between the two. The last thing I want to end up as is that guy who sits all day at his computer commenting about the world when he hardly experiences it because he’s stuck on the machine. I don’t want to be the guy who sits and plays warcraft escaping his own miserable reality for 18 hours a day. All I know is that it’s completely messed up how the guy who loves technology and the guy who wouldn’t mind spending his life away from it all is the same guy.

 

My Introduction To Futurology

Last year, I went to university with a set of ideas about where I wanted to go in life, where I wanted to live and what sort of environment and world I wanted to live in. I had a very vague idea of politics, the global economy and the way the world was and what was needed to do to make it how I wanted it, or in another way, a better place.

What I did know is what many others know, Technology is the way forward. Technology is improving the world without a doubt. Education is one of the most important policy behind any political party and it’s important to the people of any country. What has technology done for education is massive. We now have technology assisted learning all over the world. Some of the projects include Wikipedia (It’s amazing, I don’t care what your professor says), Moodle and Blackboard, edX and other online universities. In general education is more accessible and education can lead to a better world all through technology. One of my professors is currently heavily involved in the OLPC project and he was explaining how by using OLPC’s and a cheap server, they can give children in places without any access to the internet access to the whole of Wikipedia and Khan Academy in somewhere where it’s difficult to even get water. This is absolutely incredible, these children are learning anything they please without even requiring a teacher.

So there are some of the thoughts I’ve had on education and how it can improve the future, this could almost be considered natural progression though. It’s obvious, the world gets smarter, the world becomes a better place. Now in terms of broader futurology, there are radical ideas floating around. I’m sat here right now watching the presidential debate thinking why are half of these problems even problems? They shouldn’t be. I was first introduced to a futurology via a video documentary by a gentleman called Jacque Fresco who is a self-educated, futurologist. He is clearly an incredible man and through his videos and websites  introduced me to the idea of a resource based economy. The person who actually pointed the videos out for me was an obscure character who actually hated conventional politics and the world as it stood and was fully behind the idea of a resource based economy. After learning a bit about the theory, I pretty much dismissed it as something that will never happen in my lifetime, I’m not really 100% a resource based economy can really work but is poses some great ideas.

After exploring the various ideas of futurology such as resource-based economies, the future of education, the future of travel etc.  It’s something I’ve truly got lost in. Something I desire. The future just has so much potential. When I’m sat on the commuter train between London and Swansea trying to get home to Newport, I sit thinking why isn’t this a bullet train? Why is it Japan is miles ahead of us in terms of public transport? Why do I still have to check when the milk is going to go off? All these questions are some of the main reasons I wanted to do computer science at university. I don’t just want to live in a world that is improved by technology, I want to help shape it. I think home automation is one of the best things ever yet it needs an open standard (Android@Home has been pretty quiet), not enough people have it, not enough companies are behind shaping it. There is no technological restrictions on why I shouldn’t be able to turn off all the lights, adjust the heating, turn the oven off and the dishwasher on from the other side of the planet yet I can’t yet. But it’s not here. Since following certain futurology and certain websites that promote it I can’t help but get frustrated because there are just too many great ideas that aren’t being utilised properly.

 

This Week – Really Not A Lot

This week has been quiet. Very quiet in fact. I’ve played on hell of a lot of Smash Bros. I’ve watched a few films, none that were good enough for me to even be able to remember the names of and I’ve managed to get hold of a pot of Marmite.

Class this week has been pretty tame, I’ve started my group project for Information Systems, Operating Systems is still lots of C code and Databases is still the most mundane course on planet earth. As for Theory of computation it’s actually still really interesting. I leave after every class feeling like I’ve learned something and feel that if I don’t pay attention, I’m going to miss something really important. The lecturer is absolutely awesome and really has a passion for the subject.

The rest of the week was mainly taking it easy, managed to make it down the pub on thursday which always makes for a good time, pretty busy this week. Then Saturday we went to a house party. As usual it was full of international students and a few Americans, it actually got shut down pretty quickly but I still managed to get a good few rounds of beer pong in. The highlight of the night was definitely the moment that a dog turned up! An absolutely lovely black labrador, made me miss my dog far too much though.

Starting to get pretty bored of all the food on campus now. It’s got to the point where the chicken tastes like the beef which tastes like the salad which tastes like the mashed potato. I’m pretty glad I only applied for 10 meals per week, it means I can eat out or cook in the flat.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I need to get out more. I spend far to much time in this apartment, sitting on the sofa using the internet. I need to get out of here and actually see more of San Francisco. When I moved to London within 2 weeks I’d sussed out my favourite spots, was regularly attending random events that I’d seen on TimeOut or whatever. I need to get on it, I need to make the most of my time here and not spend half my life in the flat. Tiesto in San Jose this week though. Cannot wait!

Capital Letter Conundrum

If you look at the title of this post, all three words start with a capital letter. This goes against the formal rules of English language however fits very well with the un-written design language that goes with blogging. In fact, if I didn’t do the first letter of each capital letter my blog would look worse and that is something I fully believe.

Capital letters and their uses are changing. Maybe not for things like journals, books and articles but in design, the use of capital letters is completely different. Artists, UI Designers, marketing teams and companies are all changing the way capital letters are used.

Where did it begin? Apple have notably used an “i” before a capital “P” in their iPod and iPhone branding, something that is by it’s very nature bad English. It’s the name for a product, it should have a capital letter but it doesn’t. Yet this is one of the most powerful brands on earth. The “MacBook” is one word yet contains two capital letters. What is this madness? It is arguably, art. Art does not need to follow the rules of anything. It’s meant to be wrong and that’s why so many people are in love with it.

Now above is a screen shot from an Xbox. This is a Microsoft product and much of the design style is in the release of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. It’s part of Microsoft’s new design language. Today Microsoft announced Xbox Music Service aka “xbox music”. You see the difference there? Xbox Music uses both capitals and non-capitals. In the above screenshot, Microsoft have used Xbox Music for the icon however when you actually boot into the app they use “xbox music”. Why?! Why can’t they just be consistent. It looks good either way but I can’t understand for the life of me why there isn’t consistency in the capital letters. Even in the above screenshot it has capital letters for App names and lower case for “bing, home, social” etc. What is that about?

I understand that nowadays design is everything, but consistency may not be. Microsoft are on the right track, they are trying to do the “one UI to rule them all” thing but why can’t they have one rule for capital letters. There are countless offenders out there but this one stood out to me as I was reading some articles today and playing around with my Windows 8 virtual machine. I’m not even that guy who will go round telling people they are doing it all wrong with English. It’s not really my forté either but I do like things to look nice and I do like consistency. Fortunately, Microsoft’s new design style is so beautiful that I may be able to look past it and carry on thinking about life’s other problems.

Other notable companies that don’t conform to the rules of capital letters? ebay, PayPal, facebook, beats by Dre. and so many others. I’m guessing the fact that these companies all ignore the rules of capital letters isn’t the main reason for their massive but it seems the general rule of using the big letter for names isn’t really the only way anymore.

This Week – Midterms, Homework and A Chilled Weekend.

This week has really taken it’s toll on me in terms of time management. I’ve had 2 mid-terms which had rather heavy weighting on them in terms of final grade for my modules and it’s really been an example of how different the UK and USA learning systems are.

At home, we have assignments. Relative to the course and with a reasonable time bracket to complete them in. These time brackets are completely reasonable when compared to the ones here at SF State. I find the system out here requires you to spend a lot more time doing the tasks than the university at home or that they expect you to finish it in a shorter time. I’m not complaining about the fact that I don’t have time to get to the pub because in reality, I’m still here to study. Just because I’m abroad doesn’t mean the whole year can be a holiday and second year was obviously going to be more work than the first year. However I have one major criticism of the way some of my modules work. Homework will be set on a date, then the next 3 lectures will cover the homework requirements giving you about 48 hours to actually complete the homework. This means if you’ve planned anything in advanced on days where homework will be set your absolutely screwed unless you get really stuck in and find other ways to learn the solution to the homework. There is also the problem that there is so much ambiguity in the homework assignments. It drives me mad, I read the assignment brief and there is absolutely no way to take from it what the actual goal is, hence having to go to all the lectures to find out. So yes, I don’t like the way the homework system works in some of my modules. It’s not as good as the UK system in my opinion.  Last year, I was not stressed once in terms of work for my course. This year, it’s stressful. But it’s got to be done and be done it shall!

Mid-terms are actually quite good. They are simply exams that count towards your grade that can happen at any particular time in the term but usually in the middle.  I had one for computational theory and one for enterprise networks this week. These are really similar to an exam at home, you revise, you pass. Life goes on.

Thursday I ended up at the pub with the boys which was probably a bad decision as I had two homework assignments due at 12:00pm on Friday night but it all got done and we had a good time. Then the weekend was just going to be great. I didn’t go out on Friday I just took it easy after finishing all my work and played a fair few games of Smash Bros. I pretty much had the same planned for Saturday until my neighbours knocked on the door saying they were going to Temple nightclub and managed to convince me. Well, that was after my flat mate said “I’m up for it, YOLO” and I had to resist the urge to slap him. Temple is an absolutely stunning club upstairs, slightly grungey downstairs but all in all a pretty good club. The DJ was absolutely awesome so I was absolutely loving life. It wasn’t the cheapest of clubs but I quite like the upmarket ones anyway. The decor in there was absolutely amazing.

Then today, I woke up after having hardly any sleep made a cuppa, put my feet up and relaxed. Managed to skype a few friends and family and have a chat which is always nice. Back to Uni tomorrow with more homework being set! Hooray for education.

Digital Communities – Then And Now

Internet communities in a world of Facebook and Twitter are completely different to what they are when I first started joining and investigating them. Years ago I was massively involved with the forum scene, starting with an awful Nintendo forum that I just wanted to talk about Gamecube games on and gradually ending up with accounts all over the web for various topics. Each had their niché, I had accounts with Windows Vista Forums, Ubuntu Forums and just about anything that ever took my interest that I thought I might need help or could offer help to others on.

These days, things are different. Forums are not the prevalent thing anymore. Facebook is not an Internet Community to me. When I was using forums there was one particular forum (no longer in existence) that I used more than any and that was because it had a real community feel. We all knew each other, we all bantered with each other and we all did stuff together regardless of the fact that everyone was hiding behind a pseudo name (mine wasn’t the most subtle and took the form of Timmy). We helped each other when there were problems with things that each respective member knew about and it had a great sense of community.

Recently however, Forums are not necessarily the prevalent thing for interacting with people you don’t know. You’ve got your Facebook for chatting and posting things for people you know to see and you’ve got twitter to post short messages to be viewed by anyone who might hunt them down. Some people just love talking to people over the Internet that they don’t know. It’s a great way to seek advice if your embarrassed about something. It’s a great way to interact with experts in an area that the people you surround yourself with might not know about. For example, if I wanted to learn about robotics (which I do), I could go and find a website where complete strangers would be willing to help me for nothing. I’ve been getting involved in a few of these recently. Namely the StackOverflow family of websites where I’ve been getting assistance with programming problems but also through some of their other websites such as travel, IT security and things like that. It’s fascinating to me that people will genuinely help you out for nothing but virtual Karma. It’s like it’s own economy of respect and it’s mesmerising in so many ways. I can completely understand it as well. The first time I helped someone out and they appreciated in the form of an up vote I felt like I’d done a good deed. It genuinely felt good although it did play on the”if you tell people everything you know, your of no value” rule that I’ve been told so many times, I felt I’d helped someone out and believe it or not, many people have helped me out in return. I’m not even just talking seconds of peoples life, a small post, people are reading through large blocks of code to help me out and pointing out things that might improve my skills. I’m a large fan of StackOverflow and what it’s doing for the world.

Now onto another site that plays with my mind a bit too much. Reddit. Reddit has a community and it’s strange. This is a website that thrives on karma or upvoting and downvoting like no other. By upvoting someone you can help them gain karma on their profile and maybe even get their post to the front page (particularly if your a libertarian scientist who loves valve games).  Reddit is absolutely huge and like any huge online website that allows people to post it is full of both amazing people and absolutely awful human beings. One of the things I love about Reddit is how the sheer scale of it benefits the overall community as  whole and how you can find something for yourself on there. As you can see in the above screenshot I have customised the toolbar to contain a list of sub-reddits that contain posts about my interests, the list is as follows:

  • Tech
  • Geek
  • Futurology
  • Robotics
  • Trance
  • Kingston University
  • San Francisco State University
  • Wales
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Explain To Me Like I’m Five

All of the above contain quality posts that are relevant to my interests. Now some users of Reddit probably just go to the front page and see what has happened recently and click on a few meme pictures and enjoy themselves but there is actually a lot more to this website. Once you see past all the nonsense that is on there, it can actually be extremely useful. Tech, Geek and Futurology are usually just links to sites that I’ve usually read on my daily blog read however the comments are usually really insightful into what other people believe such articles are saying. They are usually more comprehensive, more humorous and generally better than the ones that might be posted on that actual website. Because people will do it for karma.  Robotics, Business and Economics are really interesting to watch because some of the people on there are really qualified, really knowledgeable and are willing to share their opinions and help. When you get further down to even more specialised ones such as my university sub-reddits I follow, you are much more likely to find a community experience here because it is a smaller group of people and if you frequently visit, you’ll start noticing the same people. You can associate posts with people and discover behaviours of users within the sub-reddit. Find out who you like etc. I avoid things such as politics, atheism and some of the more prevalent sub-reddits, mainly because they are full of some of the most infuriating users on earth. Granted sometimes they may have a point but it’s not my cup of tea whatsoever. I just wouldn’t get involved in it. To be honest it took me a very long time to ever get a Reddit account because it’s not entirely necessary, until I had a question to ask or some help to offer there was no need. I literally despised the website a few years ago but it really grew on me when I discovered the interesting sub-reddits. Then you’ve got sub-reddits such as “ask me anything” and “explain to me like I’m five”. These are both amazing just because of some of the people that are on it, I mean you’ve got people asking multimillionaires questions and gettings responses, you’ve got Stan Lee speaking to fans and many companies. Then “explain to me like I’m five” is just awesome for reading when you’re bored (procrastinating) some people are really good at doing what you wish some teachers would do when you can’t wrap your head around something and you’ve got hundreds of potential people to try and explain it simply, one is usually the right way for you.

So there you have it, I’ve come a long way as a person since the forum days and there is still kind of communities around however they’re just not in the same format. You can find community with anonymity online if that’s your thing but I don’t think we’ll be seeing massive discussion forums as much in the future. I remember the Ubuntu Forums being the most helpful community ever in fixing a problem with a computer problem however nowadays I guess I’d head to the Linux StackOverflow as I’d be sure to get an answer twice as fast!

Life With A Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 710 Tim Ford

 

Ever since Microsoft designed the interface for the Zune HD that is currently used for Windows Phone 7, 8 and Windows 8; I’ve wanted to use a device that ran it. My first run in with the UI was with a copy of an early build of Windows 8 running in a virtual machine and it wasn’t necessarily the best but I still believed in the interface, I still thought it had so much potential. Microsoft obviously had the same idea as they’ve implemented in almost all their flagship products.

My fascination with the modern Windows UI started when I read an article by a blogger (which I can no longer find) who had stated his hate for the chrome design style taken on by companies like Apple. He stated how awful it was to base so many graphics on real-world things like you might find with the note taking app on an iPhone. This made a lot of sense to me. The real world isn’t the most efficient world so why should something digital replicate something from the real world. Well it was never necessarily the best way but people are still attached to the real world and thought what companies like Apple were doing was beautiful. In it’s own way maybe, but the more I use Apple software these days, the slower and more bloated it feels.  So this bloggers saving grace was Windows Phone, a complete lack of chrome and a complete focus on information. At least that’s what Microsoft wants you to think and as more and more screen shots leak of upcoming Windows 8 apps you can see that some of these apps are some of the most stunning pieces of software ever designed. I caught glimpse of the MSN re-design earlier today and couldn’t believe how great it looked.

So, what is it like using a Windows device with the modern UI in real life? Well, after moving to San Francisco, I ordered myself a Nokia Lumia 710. By no means the flagship Windows Phone 7 device but nonetheless it had relatively good specs, was relatively cheap and did everything I wanted it to do. I couldn’t be bothered with my iPhone 4 out here because I got bored of it and it’s getting slow in it’s old age.  The Lumia 710 runs Windows Phone 7.5 and has absolutely amazing response times. I’m genuinely shocked at how fast it is to do everything on it and now I can see how Nokia’s “Is your phone faster than a Windows Phone?” campaign has taken off. I still don’t think that will entice people to go out and buy them but it’s something.

My Lumia does everything I need it to do except a few apps that are missing (read: Instagram). The Facebook integration is absolutely perfect, the Twitter app is good but one of my favourite applications of all is Spotify. It looks absolutely gorgeous in the modern UI and runs so smooth. I can pin playlists as tiles on my front page, I can queue and do everything I did in the iOS app and the Desktop App like I need too. It’s sterling and it means I still don’t have to load a hell of a lot of songs in MP3 format to my device.

The camera doesn’t do as well as the iPhone does but who would expect it to at the price I paid. It’s certainly not as good looking as my iPhone in terms of physical aesthetics either. I’d argue that the battery lives were similar depending on what I’m doing however the battery save mode has been an absolute life saver some nights.

One of my other favourite things about my Lumia is it’s seamless integration with SkyDrive. I’ve managed to set up having all my photos uploaded straight to Sky Drive so they are always backed up. It’s fast and it’s effeicient. The same for all my documents in Microsoft Office. I create them on the phone and I can edit them in the  Word web-app using SkyDrive.com. Microsoft have clearly worked hard on implementing integration into this operating system and that’s only going to get better with Windows Phone 8.

I have a lot of hope for this platform. I’m sure that eventually, Microsoft will end up with a fairly decent share of the phone market because they’ll take RIMs spot soon enough as that other option and I’m pretty sure Windows 8 will encourage people to have that one UI for all devices thing going on. SmartGlass will have all the Xbox lovers wanting either a Windows 8 tablet or Windows Phone 8 phone as well. I really do think Microsoft have got something right this time and they are potentially the only ones who can stand up there with Google and Apple. They need more apps and they know that. Microsoft are working on that and so they should be.

I’m not fussed on the iPhone 5 at the moment, I’ll probably hold off until I’m back in the UK next year until I buy a new phone. The next gen Lumia’s look absolutely amazing as do the HTC Windows Phone 8 devices. I’m eagerly awaiting reviews for them however I’ll have to see what Windows, iOS and Android devices are looking like in a years time!

This Week – Hacked, Road Trip And The OLPC

I feel like this week I got the perfect balance between uni work and partying. I had an absolute blast on Thursday night down at an Irish pub and managed to get on a road trip this weekend but I’ve always had a little time to do some academic work and even get involved with some extra curricular stuff.

I had an absolutely nightmare at the start of the week when some absolute fiend managed to hack my website and set up a spam bot and send out an insane amount of spam. I was going to lose my website and was instantly suspended by my host to protect their survers. I was furious but after a few hours managed to hunt down the problem and get it fixed.

In terms of Uni, I’ve spent time doing various homework assignments. From writing C code in operating systems to designing database schema in database management systems. I find C programming pretty stressful under the windows environment. The system calls are horrible compared to the unix counterparts. I’ve also managed to get a bit of hands-on time with the OLPC. It’s something I’ve read loads about on various gadget blogs over the years and it turns out that my Information Systems professor is pretty heavily involved with it, so I’ve volunteered to see if I can help out at all. The initiative is absolutely amazing and I’m all for getting computers into the hands of absolutely everyone. The laptops do some pretty amazing things for the price, they’re rigid, they’re actually pretty heavy but most importantly they improve the chances of education for under privileged children. I’m hoping to get more involved in the project whilst I’m here, there is a pretty big community surrounding the OLPC here in San Francisco.

Tim's lumia_000089

In other news, I went on my first American road trip this week. In a huge Ford Expedition, 5 of us set off with a vague idea of where we meant go. First stop was Santa Cruz. For some reason I’ve heard of Santa Cruz a few times, maybe it was on T-Shirts down the skate park I used to frequent or maybe it’s the trains. I’m sure I’ve heard of it from somewhere but anyway it was awesome and I’ll tell you for why. They had Sea Lions! Sea lions are so awesome it’s unreal, they’re the cutest blubbery things I’ve ever seen, the noise they make is amazing and they were all just chilling in the most obscure places. We ate “fish and chips” in a restaurant on the pier called Fire Fish. The fish was pretty good quality although the chips were french fries. Pretty disappointed with that, you’d think if they serve it with “english style” vinegar they could at least get the chips right but overall the meal was lovely. Then we moved on to Salinas where we had booked a hotel that had cost £12.50 for the night. It was actually a pretty nice motel, it had a pool and a hot tub and everything but I didn’t prepare for that. For what we paid it was awesome. The following morning we headed off to Big Sur where we drove along the cliffs and went for a walk to find the waterfalls. Big Sur was beautiful but it reminded me of Wales a bit, maybe it’s because I live close to the woods and have been down to West Wales a fair few times. Next stop was Monterey. A rather small place that literally thrives of tourism, they also had sea lions but the pier was a bit more happening here. Unfortunately, I have a pretty fussy approach to eating so I couldn’t get involved with the famous Clam Chowder however I did head to the sweet shop and have Birthday Cake flavoured ice cream which was simply devine. Following Monterey we headed to Mount Diablo, one of the highest points of California. The views were pretty impressive at the top and the drive was absolutely insane, I don’t think I could trust myself to drive that in my punto without wanting to time how fast I could get up and down it.

IMG_5367
So that’s about it for this week. I’m going to be drowned in work for mid-terms this week coming. I am studying for an Enterprise Networks test tomorrow and Computational Theory test on Thursday! Nightmare I know.