Decisions, Decisions… Laptop, Tablet, Phone?

I am in a bit of a tricky situation at the moment. Unsure of where (of if) I will be going to university next year, I need to think ahead in terms of electronic devices as well as accommodation (which was not yet been organised). My current laptop is 4 years old and in a bad state of disrepair (although currently running better with Windows 8 Release Preview). If I get into my firm university choice, UCL, I will be staying at home and so would have a powerful desktop available there and need something more portable that I could take every day on the tube, preferably without huge fear of having is stolen, or at least if it was it wouldn’t cost too much to replace. If I get into my insurance choice, Southampton, which is looking more likely, I will need a more powerful laptop to replace the desktop, and so have been looking into laptops with i5 processors, 6gb of RAM and about 750gb of HDD (despite already having a terrabyte portable hard drive…) running Windows 7 with the expectation of receiving a Windows 8 upgrade for £15. This would frustratingly occur just when I’d be settling in at the uni though (in October), and so I’d have to start again from scratch. Anyway, I think this sort of PC is as powerful as I would need, as I do not have enough money to afford a game playing PC. If you disagree, you’re welcome to leave a comment below. But wait, I badly want to own a Windows 8 tablet and I want a Windows Phone 8 (mid-range) phone when they come out. Do I have enough cash to buy all three, and are they different enough to warrant the purchase of all three? I must admit, I don’t think I should be getting two Windows 8 devices, but I really really want a tablet, so would I have to give that a miss if I go to Southampton? I hope not. I had hoped that a tablet like Microsoft’s Surface would get rid of this fear, because it’s got the attachable cover/keyboard, but it lacks a few things I use a lot, including multiple USB ports (it only has one) and a DVD/CD drive. It looks to be the best tablet I’ve ever seen, but not quite a laptop just yet, so I don’t think it will do. Perhaps I could keep my old laptop for those things and use a Surface for everything else? That’s a possibility, but the Surface won’t be available in time for the start of the course, so I’m not sure it’s going to work.

Of course, many questions still remain about the specifics of the Surface and indeed other Windows 8 tablets, but the basics have been lain out on the table, and I don’t think it’s enough.

There is also a third possibility, that I don’t go to university at all. In that case, I would seek a job up in London and possibly carry a tablet around with me, similar to if I went to UCL I suppose.

What do you think? Should I wait until I know where I will be going, and then, what is it worth me getting? I have ruled Android tablets out of the equation after owning one in the past and seeing they really aren’t worth the trouble.

Oli

Futures, Don Broco and Natives (gig review)

This gig was in the London club XOYO and it was of three fairly new bands, namely Natives, Don Broco and the headliners Futures. I arrived a few minutes after 8 and unfortunately missed a song or two of Natives’ set, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it.

 

A little background on the bands:

Natives (formerly Not Advised) are a young band from Southampton who have moved from a slightly more commercial sound when they were Not Advised to a more rocky impression as Natives. I think they have been good under both names, by the way. This performance ignited the crowd more than I expected for the openers, but they were very good. I was a little bit disappointed that they played no Not Advised music, but their new tracks certainly sound promising. Listen to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewrnL0K5KT0

7/10

 

Next up were heavy Bedford rockers Don Broco, who have been around the block for a good few years now without actually releasing a full length album. Unaware of their first EP, I had only previously heard the 2011 release Big Fat Smile, and consequently did not know all of the songs they played. However, their performance was exceptional. I wasn’t expecting them to be so well known by so much of the audience, but it was insane how much energy came into the room as soon as they started playing. The highlight for me was the big single ‘Beautiful Morning’, but I loved every track. The lead singer, Rob Damiani, created him own mosh pit and commanded us all to take part, and then later on, many guys got down to the ground to do press ups – a most bizarre experience but it was great, a very different gig to others I’ve been to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOzJvLpEzPQ

9/10

 

After much work setting up, Buckinghamshire-born Futures came on, lead by frontman Ant West. Recently separated from their label, the performance started off on a low note, which was disappointing as I love ‘Start a Fire’, which came first. The crowd didn’t really get into the music at this point or for the next few tracks, which was a great shame. Perhaps this was because many of the early songs were from the recently released ‘The Karma Album’. However, as Futures progressed, the crowd got  more and more energetic and this was epitomised by the final two tracks that were favourites Sal Paradise and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and the atmosphere erupted. Karma Satellite was performed brilliantly by West also, and he managed to merge Swim Teams and Video Games (by Lana Del Rey), which they’ve covered on a YouTube video, excellently. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night, although I have to say I think the show was stolen somewhat by the second support act.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se-6uP7aVwg

8/10

Another Year, Another Failed Eurovision Effort

It’s something we Brits have become well too accustomed to over our many years of participating in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, but it does seem to be getting steadily worse and worse every year.

Tonight, we managed to come an unimpressive 25th (or 26) thanks to Engelbert Humperdinck’s well sung and performed effort, gaining a dreadful 12 points. Putting things in perspective, Jedward got four times that – and people expected them to get more. So it was not a good year. A few years ago, new rules were put in place that were supposed to make the scoring system more representative of which act had the best song/performance, but it seems it has yet again failed to make the correct choice, picking an urban Swedish song as the winner, despite valiant efforts from many other countries. Truth be told, it wasn’t one of the best years in terms of talent (or song writing!), but there certainly were better songs than Sweden’s, and there certainly were worse ones than Engelbert’s.

I thought we’d picked a song that much of Europe would be able to relate to, and added to this, our singer had a German/Austrian sounding name, I thought we were sure fire at least a few points. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and ended up picking up points from only 4 countries.

In my memory, the only ‘success’ from a British Eurovision entry was Jade Ewen back in 2009, who managed to come 5th I believe, and I thought this symbolised a change in Britain’s fortunes. However, as above, it was not to be, and we then slumped to last place with Josh Dubovie. 2011 marked a better than average result, but this was perhaps because we employed the boyband ‘Blue’ as our artists – a good way of getting a few more votes. We came 11th with 100 points. But, as I’ve said, it’s back to winning ways for the UK and we landed a solid 25th spot without even votes from regulars Malta and San Marino.

In recent years, I have rarely disputed the victor, even though many of the higher ranked entries were unjust in my opinion. Notable winners include Germany’s Lena, Norway’s Aleksander Rybak and of course Finland’s Lordi. Last year’s winner, Azerbaijan, wasn’t undeserved either, but I wouldn’t have been happy to see them win again this year, nor would I have been happy to see six seventysomethings win purely because people thought they ‘were cute’. Despite this criticism, I did have a certain affection for Ireland (and ex X-Factor!)’s Jedward, who got their highest tally of points (10) from the UK and ended up comfortably beating us, even though our song was clearly a better song, thus proving the ridiculousness of the name ‘Eurovision Song Contest’. It’s not about the song any more, it’s more about the entertainment, but even that can be questioned in some of the performances. It doesn’t hurt to be close with your neighbours, either.

Bastille

Bastille are an up and coming band from the UK who look set to set the stage alight in the coming months and years. They already have had their track ‘Overjoyed’ played on national radio and welcomed with open arms, and this isn’t even their best song! Laura Palmer and Flaws, as well as the City High cover, What Would You Do?, are all better songs and I think more commercial as well.

The band fuse rock with indie and urban elements to produce a unique and fresh sound that will instantly hook you in and keep you hooked.

Here’s Laura Palmer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXF-CSlpyxQ&ob=av2e

They have 2 very brief CDs out as far as I’m aware – Flaws single and Laura Palmer EP. They also have a collection of covers and other demos called ‘Other People’s Heartache’, which is another fantastic listen.

The vocals and instrumentals that this band employ are brilliant, and I feel this is a band that will appeal to so many different kinds of people. I hope you give them a go, God knows they deserve a chance!

Oli

The End of an Era

For me, and a great number of my colleagues, tomorrow marks the final day of our secondary education. It has been a rocky seven years at Sutton Grammar, but I think no one there would take those years back. Tonight we had a superbly organised leavers meal, courtesy of Will and Jasper (who unfortunately could not attend on the day – we ensured he still got rapturous applause though), and it was a moving night. Arranged into tables generally of friend sets, alongside some of our favourite teachers, we had a fantastic evening, I think it’s safe to say.

Even though we still have another day, and indeed revision lessons and exams at school still to come, it felt like the end of a great seven years tonight. Unfortunately, I find that the best times were back in years 7-9, probably due to the lack of pressures from GCSEs and A-levels, but I’ve still enjoyed the latter years of my education too, and hopefully I will be able to end it on a high with solid exam results in August.

It also signifies a maturing of all the students, who will now go on to pursue whatever future they seek. For most of us, that will mean going to university, but this is certainly not the case for all of us, and some may be going straight into work, and I wish them all the best. Although it is evidently not the end of education for many of us, it is certainly the end of a certain type of education at the very least, and it’s the beginning of adulthood.

I wish the very best to all those I’ve known throughout my time at Sutton, and I hopefully we will meet again sometime soon!