Look, I'm not here to judge. I have absolutely no problem with vulgar, profane, or otherwise obscene language. But when my partner said to me back in 2015 that I was swearing "too much" I decided that I could do something about it.Read More
I recently turned 25 - I am now the most 'mid-twenties' I'll ever be. Here are some things I've learnt in my first quarter of a century on the planet.
1. Don't Worry About What Other People Are Doing
What was once the most powerful tool to connect with people, has devolved into a social boasting platform. OK; not quite. But its not far off. Facebook used to be a way to connect with your friends, but as more people have joined the site, and it has become ubiquitous - with potential implications on your relationship with employers - along with confusion and rapid updates on privacy controls, people have been a lot more cautious on what they post to the site.
This can unfortunately mean that your news feed is constantly packed full of people you know holidaying in luxury, drinking sparkling wine out of champagne glasses in the sun, getting a cool new job, celebrating an achievement, Instgramming their luxurious meals, or getting married and having children. This can be a factor for Social Anxiety disorders which can occur when people are constantly comparing their lives to those around them, or in their virtual networks.
Your life is yours - as is your definition of a successful life. Don't worry about measuring up to what others are doing as long as you are happy doing what you're doing.
2. Indulge Your Passions
Growing up you are bombarded with the idea that the only way to success is;
- Go to the right school
- Get high grades
- Go to the right University
- Get the right degree
- Get a high paying career based on that degree
While eduction is undoubtedly important, it is not the be all and end all of your life. I did my degree in Mechanical Engineering - and I am hugely passionate about engineering but I made the choice to do my degree in Engineering at 17 years old. Should you really expect a decision you made at 17 to determine the outcome of your life? Of course not. I'm not the same person as I was at 17 and my interests and passions and hobbies and skills have changed in the following 8 years, and I'm sure will continue to evolve over time. I am hugely passionate about music and technology and spend a lot of time indulging in these interests and I find that satisfying.
Make your decisions based on what you care about and have an interest in. Passion and a willingness to learn far outweigh experience.
3. Stop Caring What Other People Think
Say you are walking down the street and you slightly trip up. You feel awkward and embarrassed. What if someone saw? What will they think of me?
Switch this story around so you are the 'viewer'. It is maybe a little amusing for about 10 seconds and then? You totally and utterly forget about it.
The truth is, other than your friends, most people don't care about what you do, who you are, the successes you have, or conversely, the mistakes you make. People are interested in their own lives for the most part, and so generally why worry about what other people think?
It has been said that in any situation 1/3 of people will like you, 1/3 will hate you, 1/3 won't care. If 2/3 of people will either hate you or not care regardless of what you do then why stress yourself out worrying about what they think?
The best thing about this idea is that in any given situation 1/3 of people will like you - no matter what you do. Spend your time with these people.
4. Being Nice Is Not The Same As Being A Chump
Until I went on a corporate training course early last year - the word 'Assertive' had equalled 'Aggressive' in my mind. This word has been hijacked in modern vernacular. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness. Its having confidence.
Most of us are too worried of what people's reaction would be if we say 'no' to a request. So we say yes anyway, even if we are busy/have no experience/disagree with the objective, for fear of being seen to be unhelpful. Assertiveness is the art of having the confidence to be able to say no.
Extend this idea to the principle of 'being nice'. I like the idea of being nice. I think, on the whole, most people do. Assertiveness is usually associated with the workplace but effectively you can apply the same principle to life. You don't always have to say yes to be nice, especially when it negatively impacts on your own life. There will be times where you can not commit to a request - and that is OK.
Don't let yourself get taken advantage of. If in doubt, develop a 'code'. Most people have one of these - even if they aren't aware of it - and it influences every action and every decision you make. For an example of this - think of political affiliations. The party you associate with has a set of policies that align, or closely align, with your 'code'.
If you consciously think about what your code is, it can help to steer you in the right direction and you will never let yourself down or feel disappointed in yourself as long as you stay true to your code.
5. Find The Positives & Learn From Your Mistakes
However hard you try to avoid it, at some point life will through challenges at you. Some you will have control over, others you will be totally helpless in.
The most stress inducing, frustrating and difficult challenges are those you have no control over. You don't know what the outcome will be and you have no mechanism to influence it. This kind of stress can be crippling but a way to avoid it is to change your outlook - lots of things may go wrong, but try to look for a positive spin on any effect or outcome.
An inspiring example of this is Stephen Sutton. If you haven't heard of Stephen - Stephen was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2013, however, has used his experience as a springboard to raise a phenomenal £3.2 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the time of writing. (If you want to donate or read more about his journey and fundraising take a look at his JustGiving page).
The other challenge is one you can influence. These can be stressful. 'Am I doing it right?', 'Have I made the right decision?' You may spend hours debating or working on something and then, on occasion you make the wrong choice, wrong decision or wrong action. It is so heavily programmed into people that failure is a bad thing.
This isn't true. Follow the famous, and heavily quoted, entrepreneur's mantra of 'fail fast, fail often'.
The reason entrepreneurs love this phrase is because through failure you can learn so much. Take what you can from an experience and use it to inform your future. If you're worrying about what other people think of your failure remember no one will care or remember.
6. Caffeine Is Your Friend - But So Is Sleep
I have always used caffeine as a crutch. During my teenage years, energy drinks were booming and I was a happy customer. I used to drink so many of these drinks in a day, thinking I was invincible. Of course I could get by on little sleep, after all, that is the cool thing to do, and caffeine kept me functional. I was like a super energetic, jumped up Superman, without any of the awesome powers.
Except I wasn't. One day at University I ran out of energy drinks. My body totally fell apart. I couldn't think, I couldn't stay awake. I couldn't function. Years of caffeine abuse and minimal sleep suddenly caught up with me. So I kicked the habit, and I felt. So. Much. Better. My sleep improved, which help my memory, which in turn made me more naturally energetic. On top of that I saved a ton of money.
That said though, caffeine can bring many health benefits such as increased alertness, increased metabolic rate, reduced risk of Parkinson's and more. So I built it back into my daily routine. Now I have one good quality coffee at breakfast and then drink green tea throughout the day to keep the caffeine topped up at a sensible level.
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do. Which is why it is a shame that in modern life we seem to pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible. Sleep improves your memory, sparks creativity, increases life expectancy, reduces risk of obesity amongst other things. If you have trouble sleeping then work hard to improve it and try reading up on sleep hygiene.
7. Take Care Of Your Body
I, like most people, didn't worry too much about my general health during university. My attitude to food and drink was appalling. This led to me being unfit and overweight. I used to scoff down multiple takeaways in a day, drink lots of energy drinks and soft drinks like Coke (it was OK because it was Diet - right?) and I barely exercised - even walking between my local newsagent and my flat was more effort than I could ever really be bothered with.
It got to a point where I wasn't happy, so I took control. I dumped the energy drinks, cut back on soft drinks, changed my eating habits and exercised. It's often said, but until you experience it you won't fully appreciate the changes to your health and well-being these lifestyle changes bring.
I feel happier, healthier, clearer in mind and I genuinely enjoy exercise and healthy eating. Nutrition is a tough nut to crack but once you look at what you eat and the physical effect that it has on you, the easier it is to eat healthy food, that makes you feel good.
The other most important thing is water. We all know we should drink water, but the benefits are so great for doing so. One of the weirder facts about water drinking that I've found is that if you drink plenty, then it can actually help to reduce the appearance of fat around your stomach, as your body releases the water stored there when you are properly hydrated.
8. Think Like A Child
Everyone knows that young children are constantly asking 'why?'. This curiosity about the way the world world works allows children to learn, because learning is actually fun. Then we go to school. The education system is not really about learning but about making sure that you can pass the tests. This constant hoop-jumping makes you bored and stunts your excitement and curiosity.
Curiosity and inexperience allow children to be incredibly creative and as we grow up and give in to negative perceptions, other people's laziness and 'can't do', 'always been that way' attitudes we ourselves lose our creativity.
Do you know why so many companies have graduate schemes? Because fresh-out-of-university graduates aren't quite as jaded and can bring fresh ideas into a business by questioning the status quo. This ability is important for innovation and exploration. Never lose this ability, always remember to think like a child.
9. Listen To Podcasts
I recently discovered Podcasts. I wish I had done it years ago. They are the easiest, most enjoyable way to learn new things. No matter what your interest, there will be a podcast for you (and even if there isn't then you can make your own).
My favourite was from LifeHacker, which sadly came to an end recently (however, has been superseded by Supercharged from an ex-Lifehacker writer Adam Dachis - definitely worth a listen). I've also really enjoyed the Stuff You Should Know Podcast which touches on such diverse subject matter that you always learn something new.
10. You Won't Always Know What You're Doing
At some point you knew nothing about anything. But you learnt to walk by trying it over and over again. At some stage we were all beginners. I'm a novice at writing but I'm learning (and hopefully) getting better at it. At first it was scary, but I enjoy doing it and I try to remember 2/3 of people will never like it anyway so as long as I enjoy it and 1/3 of the people out there enjoy it then I'll keep going and learning something new.
Take chances, and experience new things. It makes you a more rounded individual. Its usually fear of failure that stops us in our efforts to try new things but remember "fail fast, fail often". The more you try, the more you fail, the more you learn, the better you'll get.
I've learnt these lessons over the years through my experiences, and I'm sure your list is probably very different. As Mary Schmich wrote in 'Wear Sunscreen' - "Advice is a form of nostalgia" - I'm simply dispensing mine.
Most importantly though, make sure, whatever you do, that it makes you happy.
Currently Listening: Tegan & Sara (Feat. The Lonely Island) - Everything Is Awesome!!!
Currently Reading: 1,339 QI Facts To Make Your Jaw Drop - John Lloyd & John Mitchins
Recently, I went to see Devin Hunt give an overview of London's Startup scene at the Escape School, and why you should base your startup in the city. Devin has a wealth of experience - ranging from obtaining investment from the revered Y Combinator to being a partner at Founder Centric through to developing London based fashion startup Lyst.
The inner workings of London's startup scene can be broken down into;
Most people think of funding as going directly to venture capital funds, obtaining a large investment and becoming a runaway success. In reality, there are a number of funding options;
- Bootstrapping or 'going it alone' with no external funding and instead supported either through the business model or your own money
- Family & Friends on the whole tend to be group of people who believe in you and can often be willing to grant you small loans in order to grow your business.
- Accelerators are able to grant investment (typically £15k for 6%) but will also welcome you into a 3 month programme designed to get you ready for a 'Demo Day' where you can pitch your business to other investors. There are also vertical accelerators, such as Kitchenette, that will invest in specific types of startup ranging from food to social enterprise.
- Angel Investors may invest in your business in return for equity or convertible debt. A characteristic investment for angel investors would be in the region of £250,000 for 25%. Angel.co is a valuable resource as a social networking tool connecting startups to angel investors.
- Venture Capital (VCs) are the most well-known form of funding for startups. VC funding is typically done through a number of stages (Series A, B etc.) where the VCs will invest money into startups for an equity stake in the business, typically taking a 25% stake for a £1 million investment during Series A
- Crowdfunding has become a phenomenon around the world with the success of platforms like Kickstarter and it is possible to use these platforms to crowd source funds for your business.
- Grants and Loans can also be a useful source of funding in the UK with many options including low interest Startup Loans and grants aimed at fostering development in specific areas
It's worth noting that there is no 'mandatory' route through funding; investigating all the options available and finding the right method for your business is key.
London has experienced a large growth in co-working spaces with over 70 now in the capital. This can be beneficial in order to give a sense of professionalism to your business with meeting spaces to woo potential customers or investors, and can also provide you with a great network of other entrepreneurs all in a similar position where you can all mutually learn from each other. This kind of experience can often be invaluable.
Some notable co-working spaces include; Google Campus, Rainmaking Loft and Warner Yard. Check out GoCoWo for a directory of London's co-working spaces.
Events & Communities
London is home to a large number of startups, employing a sizable quantity of people who work in the 60m2 area of the capital. The ability to interact with such a large number of people gives rise to some fantastic opportunities. Events can range either from the very specific to more general events with something for everyone.
There are so many different meet-ups and events – here are a few good places to start:
- Hacker News (HN) London
- 3beards (events and hackathons)
- Google Campus and of course
- Escape The City
Keep in mind that there are many people with technology-enabled startup ideas but they may worry that they won't be able to act on it as they don't have a technical background - this is not a setback! Find events that match your interests in order to meet and find people with the skills to help you grow your business.
To foster entrepreneurship a number of resources have become available over the past few years such hack spaces (Hackney Hacker Space), educational tools and resources (British Library, The Escape School) and recruitment tools (Silicon Milkroundabout, Hire My Friend) along with countless others and more appearing all the time. These resources allow you to learn how to operate your startup and put you in touch with a huge network of enthusiastic and passionate entrepreneurs.
London's startup scene has grown over recent years into a vibrant ecosystem – filled with many people who are committed and passionate about creating, making and developing. The combination of a supportive financial system in the UK coupled with many resources aimed at aiding entrepreneurs, with a huge community of dedicated startups, makes London one of the best places in the world to begin your entrepreneurial journey.
“Fail fast, fail often”
The, now famous, phrase originated as a startup ideology that has significantly lost its meaning to a lot of people over time. Many seem to believe – if that’s just posturing to seem like they ‘get’ the current philosophy isn't clear – that the actual goal is to fail. I think that’s rather missing the point.
Failure isn't a goal — but the idea behind ‘fail fast, fail often’ is that as a species we are quite terrified of failure – whether large or small. We panic and stress. We worry and hide from the stress we create, formed by the pressure of constantly trying to succeed. This pressure shouldn't be seen as normal and in certain situations – be it academic or business – can cause serious mental and physical health issues. The trouble is though that most of this pressure is self-inflicted – well, in a sense. We feel that society is constantly applying pressure for us to be the best, and always succeed.
But we know that life isn't like that. Despite all our appearances, failure does happen – sometimes through no fault of our own. External circumstances, unexpected events and, to be honest, naivety all play their roles in these failures. Maybe there could have been something that we could have done to avoid what happened, and as tough as the situation may be, we can learn from it. There will always be an angle where instead of letting guilt, regret and stress rule your life – you can rephrase the situation and find a positive.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see. It may not be immediately obvious. It may take a long while before you can see it. But, it will be there.
We often worry about what others will think of us if we fail. What we don’t recognise though is that when the people around us fail, we barely register it. We don’t begin to view them as failures, in fact, we have greater respect for them when they find a way to bounce back. We need to apply more of our own views on the world to ourselves.
Being able to break the shackles of the social pressure to succeed is important. Taking risks, being emboldened – these are the aspirations we want. Instead of aiming for failure as though it were some holy rite of passage to success, we should be empowered – knowing that if the worst should happen and we fail, we take the lessons and continue on our path to our own success.
This book is purportedly a "real" translation of the fictional book made up by H.P. Lovecraft. During his lifetime, Lovecraft repeatedly made references and even explicitly stated that the book was fictional.
With that in mind, Simon's Necronomicon, as it is known, should be viewed as a work of fiction - despite what the authors say otherwise.The book begins with a lengthy introduction about the context of the "translation" as you may expect for an important text like The Inferno of Dante, for example. The book then launches into the "Mad Arab's" writings.
If the whole thing is non-fiction then it is a shame that for some reason the authors decided to translate the text in broken 16th century English. There are also no explanatory notes anywhere in the book for the reader to follow or understand the plethora of unusual names, and places. This is a shame as it ends up being a difficult read when you have no context to about 1/3 of the content.
If this book is a work of fiction (pro tip: it is) then the publisher and author should be ashamed at the quality of the story and writing. There are far too many childish and ridiculous spells or repetitions of phrases as if to make it seem authentic. The chants and incantations are ridiculous and don't seem to relate to one another or have any real point - very few of them seem to be aimed at doing anything in particular.
Interestingly for a book that is marketed based on its occult affiliation, most of the book is devoted to the worship or invocation of the "good" Gods and spirits with only one very disjointed chapter ever referring to anything vaguely sinister or demonic.
It is worth noting the historical context of this book. During the 1970's, largely in America, there was a lot of sensationalist media coverage of the occult or paranormal. In fact the Necronomicon was released in the same year as the infamous Amityville Horror.
Overall I was hugely disappointed by this book. I was intrigued it's cult status but came away feeling as though I had been duped into reading a poorly written children's horror book. More Goosebumps than Lovecraft.
Despite the alarmist title, the book (read: elaborate pamphlet) barely touches on Satanism. Instead the surprisingly well researched from a music background (featuring some relatively obscure black metal groups), yet incredibly poorly sourced arguments tend to centre around drug use (remember drugs are bad) and sexual promiscuity (because Rock music - and only rock music - ever talks about sex). Strangely the book is called 'The Facts on Rock Music' when it is merely opinion. The authors believe all of traditional Christian America's problems stem from teenage enjoyment of rock music. I don't think a full rebuttal to this is required, although my view on this is that money distorts morality far more than music. Extremely right wing, conservative, fundamentalist modern American Christian arguments that selectively chop passages from the Bible, handily forgetting all the stories, fables and passages that suggest any perceived loss of morals may actually have nothing to do with rock, or any other genre, of music.
Simon Parkes' book on the rise of the Brixton Academy is fascinating. Being a south-Londoner and having actually attended many gigs at the Academy I was surprised that I knew none of the background to one of London's best venues. The book is extremely easy to read and even at just over four hundred pages didn't take me more than a few reading sessions to complete. Simon does come across as a very likeable person who was a genuine music fan wishing to create something special, and given the situations he encountered while creating the venue - especially during the mid-80's - he would have to have loved his work in order to keep him going. What was interesting was how Simon saw Brixton as a place. I am too young to remember the riots of the 80's but certainly know what even now nearly 3 decades later Brixton's reputation still exists so I can well believe that at the time he opened the venue this was something genuinely shocking and brave. The main thing that I came away from the book with was that actually its a huge disappointment that venues don't operate in the same ways any more, with extortionate ticket prices and removing the gig 'experience' - which Simon alludes to at the end of the book. Despite all the positives of the book I couldn't shake the feeling that there was maybe a slight creative licence taken when describing some of the shadier or dangerous parts of Brixton business, but it never took away from the impact of the story. To me it did appear that Simon reflects a lot more kindly on the 80's period of the Academy and well over half the book is dedicated to it. There is nothing wrong with this as it is obvious that part of the excitement was the journey to the top - however, it did make the book feel slightly lopsided as Simon appeared to sprint through the 90's. Overall, a well written and engaging book about what is correctly described as one of London's best venues by someone that had a passion, vision and drive to create it.
Google has just announced via their blog that the long awaited Android One initiative is a go.
According to their post, 1.5 billion people currently have access to a smartphone. But being Google, they are setting their high sights on the emerging markets - and the rest of the world. All five billion people.
Android One is the platform which Google first talked about at this years I/O conference but little has been heard since then - until today.
According to Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps;
By working closely with phone and silicon chip makers to share reference designs and select components, we’re making it easier for our partners to build phones that are not just great to use, but also affordable. They have lots of processing power, so you can get information quickly. They have high-quality front- and rear-facing cameras. And for all those pictures, along with your apps and videos, Android One phones will have expandable storage. We also added features that people in India will find particularly useful, like dual SIM cards, a replaceable battery and built-in FM radio.
The first range of Android One phones are being launched in India today with more markets including Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of 2014 and more to follow in 2015.
All phones released through Android One program will receive updates directly from Google, a status previously only afforded to Google's Nexus line-up, and confirmation that these phones will be getting the Android L update later on in the year. Pricing for the Android One devices seems to be set at around the $100 mark, meaning that Google should be providing the consistent experience of a high end handset but at a low cost.
So far no manufacturers have been able to make a meaningful dent in this market either getting pricing or quality wrong so this could be the kind of device that enables high adoption rates in emerging markets. However, there is a lot of competition from other manufacturers so Google will have to make sure it delivers on its promises of high quality at low prices with a good software user experience. Also announced is that there will be further devices from Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and chipmaker Qualcomm to come to the Android One program in the future.
In order to sweeten the deal for the Indian market, Google has teamed with service provider Airtel in order to deliver all software updates for free with no data charges for the first 6 months - essentially meaning that Android L updates will be imminent and free to users. If that wasn't quite enough to whet your appetite for the new lineup, Airtel will also provide 200mb of free data to be used for downloading apps from the Google Play Store.
The initial annoucement today launches three new, fairly oddly named, phones;
- Karbonn Sparkle V
- Micromax Canvas A1
- Spice Dream Uno
All three phones have the same specs;
- 4.5” FWVGA display
- Cortex A7 1.3 GHz Quad-Core processor
- 1GB RAM
- 4GB storage (expandable up to 32GB)
- 2x micro SIM
- Front and rear facing cameras (2MP and 5MP)
- Rechargeable lithium-ion, 1700mAh
- Android™ 4.4, KitKat®
Despite a lot of internet rumours it still appears as though Google will continue with the Nexus line as their flagship devices alongside the new flagship affordable devices from Android One. The new Nexus devices are expected to be announced at the same time as the Android L release (potentially now called Android Lion, with a continued Nestle partnership following Kit Kat).
I've mentioned before about living your life by a set of 'internal codes' – things which make you the happy, healthy individual you want to be. Here's what I use to guide me through each day.
- All roads should lead to happiness
- Take risks and challenge yourself
- Ensure mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health
- Reframe challenges into opportunities
- Take care of your body
- Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about
- Don't take relationships for granted
- Don't eat the bullshit (or serve it)
How do you do it?
- Work and build the idea muscle
- Realise you can change your self-talk
- Be critical of yourself – but only in a rational way
- Maintain a passion for knowledge
- Read as much as you can
- Don't worry what people think of you
- Eat clean
- Enjoy your lifestyle and fitness
- Focus on good quality sleep
- Research as much as you can
- Experiment and find what works for you
- Be honest
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Be assertive and remember its true meaning
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Use positive words to describe your life
- Replace 'have' with 'get'
- Make someone else smile
- Be mindful
- Be grateful
- Be forgiving
Sixx:AM began life as a creative collaboration between Mötley Crüe bassist, Nikki Sixx, former Beautiful Creatures and current Guns N' Roses guitarist DJ Ashba, and producer/vocalist James Michael, to accompany Sixx's first book 'The Heroin Diaries' in which Sixx published his diaries written during the height of his heroin addiction in the 80's, along with notes, feelings and thoughts from present day Sixx. The first album –named The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack – was a musical exploration of the main events presented in the book, with the lyrics often containing excerpts from the book.
Released in 2007, the book and album were a success – the book debuted at number 7 on the New York Times non-fiction list, with the album having sold in excess of 344,000 copies as of May 2011, and lead single 'Life Is Beautiful' gaining traction on mainstream Rock radio. The intention of the Sixx A:M project was to give a musical voice to the content of the book – but was such a success that the group decided to collaborate again – this time releasing another album and book combination under the title of 'This Is Gonna Hurt'.
In a difference between This Is Gonna Hurt (TIGH) and its predecessor, TIGH worked together thematically with the book visually supporting the music through Sixx's photography. The album was released almost four years after their debut, in May 2011.
Where the Heroin Diaries Soundtrack (THDS) was designed to be an audio accompaniment to the book, the album held together as essentially a concept album, telling the story of Sixx's heroin addiction. TIGH did not follow such a rigid concept, although the album does hold together well – even if it's not quite as cohesive.
As the trio of Sixx, Ashba and Michael had co-writing credits on almost every song on Mötley Crüe's latest album, Saints Of Los Angeles, released in 2008, the music will be stylistically familiar to those that heard that album. Unlike THDS, the music is more streamlined towards modern alternative rock, presumably spurred on by the success of 'Life Is Beautiful', which could be said to detract from the album. However, as the album isn't a concept record, the stylistic experiments that littered THDS are not necessary or missed. The group put out a record that would gel well in stadiums, filled with older Crüe fans and younger listeners, spanning generations of rock fans.
As all three musicians involved have made their names writing and performing rock music, this is where they excel. The rockier numbers on the album, like the 'Life is Beautiful' rewrite, 'Lies Of The Beautiful People', and 'Oh My God' are some of the album highlights. However, when the slow the tempo, as they do with 'Smile' it unfortunately begins to feel like filler – a disappointment after the back to back solid tracks on THDS. However, most tracks hold their own – and a benefit of losing the concept album tag is that each song can sit independently of one another which allows the group to add more variety to the songs.
James Michael acted as the producer on this album, which can be heard across the album. Anyone familiar with Michael's other work – like the Crüe's Saints of Los Angeles, will know what to expect sonically – loud waves of guitars, expertly and digitally processed to give maximum impact during the rockier numbers, and digitally processed melancholy on the ballads. So, in other words, modern rock production. All the musicians give good performances, with DJ Ashba, getting to show more of his guitar ability this time around.
Overall this album is a worthy successor to The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack, even if it doesn't feel quite as powerful – and unexpected – as that album.
There's been quite a lot written in the past year about the health and productivity benefits of napping throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic naps offer many benefits including;
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance
Despite what most people would agree are very positive benefits of napping - it doesn't really fit well within most cultures - with the notable exception of Spain with it's siestas. Most businesses still haven't adapted to the growing body of research that shows that promotion of health and well-being at work actually lowers medical costs, reduces absenteeism, creates happier and more loyal workforce and improves productivity.
There has been a long tradition of employees falling asleep in their cars during lunch breaks but this can be restless sleep, that may be too long - making you feel groggy when you wake up, or disturbed by light and the surroundings.
One product that looks to enable you to find nap satisfaction is the Ostrich Pillow.
The Ostrich pillow is essentially a big pillow that you put onto your head and comes in two versions; the original one seen the picture above and the 'light' edition as shown below.
Studio Banana who launched the product, designed by Kawamura-Ganjavian, following a successful Kickstarter project where it achieved its funding target in 72 hours and obtained nearly 3 times its original backing goal by the end of the project, had this to say about the product in their press release:
OSTRICH PILLOW offers a microenvironment in which to take a warm and comfortable power nap at ease. It is neither a pillow, nor cushion, bed or garment, but a bit of each, all at the same time. It’s soothing cave-like interior shelters and isolates both your head and hands, perfect for a power nap. You can use the Ostrich Pillow at your desk, on a bench, on the train or while you wait at the airport to catch a flight. In fact, you can use the Ostrich Pillow whenever and wherever you feel like a nap is needed.
While everything they wrote there is true - you could use it anywhere - but would you want to?
I'm in two minds about this product - on the one hand, there is all the research about the benefits of napping, and light and sounds can have a huge impact on the quality of sleep we get - so I get why the product exists.
On the other hand - I can't quite escape the feeling this is a wind up and selling a product that most people would acknowledge looks daft, in the name of 'well-being'. As if to compound this they also released a 'Lover's Pack' for Valentine's Day where you get two of the 'Light' pillows with a choice of designs on the inside - for while its dark. And you're asleep. Just in case the potential to see your partner while trying to sleep is too disturbing.
Having said that - I do think they look extraordinarily comfortable - and have even debated buying one - but held off for the meantime as I can't really imagine I'd use it out and about as the designers suggest. Also, can you imagine how awkward the original pillow is to carry with you?
While I'm still not convinced with the product - I whole heartedly endorse napping as a means to improve your mental and physical wellness. So while you debate whether to spend the £65.99 on an Ostritch Pillow, start crafting your best business case to put to your boss - take a look at this great infographic The Huffington Post UK put together on napping;
During it's meteoritic rise throughout the late 2000's and early 2010's, there was one issue gathering up momentum that was threatening to destabilise Android's growth.
The Rise of Android
We all have experience with operating system (OS) updates and know, roughly, how it works. The software manufacturer decides they want to add new features and performance tweaks. When these OS updates happen on desktop computers and laptops they tend to follow Microsoft's lead with Windows – a new version roughly every 3 years. When Apple created the iPhone they established an entirely new sector – smartphones – and with that they set the gold standard for product releases in mobile – a new product would appear once a year – around early Autumn, with a software update in tow.
When Android entered the game, Google, to a large extent, followed the template laid out by Apple, although with a very important difference – they would not manufacturer their own hardware like Apple. Android was different to Apple's iOS in another important way, iOS was propriety to Apple, whereas Google's Android was open source – meaning that anyone can edit and develop it, much in the same vein as their popular browser – Chrome, which is based off the open source Chromium project.
Android's open source beginnings make it more flexible and customisable, often noted to be one of Android's key features. With that in mind Google would release a new version of Android annually, before passing it onto Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). However, phone manufacturers opted not to just put the base Android version straight onto devices, but would instead customise the software as a differentiator for their device, giving more options for Android devices in the market. Notable, and extremely successful, examples of this are Samsung's Touchwiz and HTC's Sense. As each new version of Android was fed to OEMs, they would begin compiling their own Android build to put out onto their devices.
Understandably, for expensive hardware, consumers expect software updates over a product's useful lifetime, and this was where the problem began. When an OEM made a new device with the latest version of Android they could put it into production relatively quickly. However, ensuring backwards compatibility with older devices, with different hardware configurations meant having to spend large amounts of time developing for the older devices and multiple configurations before the updates could even be scheduled. This time delay would be further compounded by network operators who also wanted to shoehorn their own customisations, apps and boot animations, along with more testing before releasing the OS update to consumers.
That is – if you were lucky enough to have a device which your manufacturer had decided was worthy or compatible with the update. This started leaving many devices on old outdated versions of Android for long periods of time, sometimes over a year from Google's update release to OEMs, or even just stuck at their current OS revision – meaning that you would not get any Google app updates including Gmail, Maps, Chrome – if your device didn't get forced into using a OEM web browser, and neither would you get new features on your, potentially only year old phone.
This was the beginning of Android's fragmentation issue – where different devices, or even the same device on another network, would end up with a different revision of Android and its latest features. This was creating some doubt in consumer's minds about purchasing an Android device – even OEM flagship devices aren't immune to this issue (see Samsung Galaxy S III which, depending on a number of factors, can still be found on Android 4.1.3 – at this point nearly two years old, despite over 50 million units being sold).
Why – they would ask – should I spend money on this phone when the phone could be rendered out of date next month if my OEM decides not to support the next OS update? And rightly so.
Google took action on this problem in a number of ways. The first was to create the 'Nexus' line of devices, including phones and tablets, running Android but manufactured by outside partners. Supposedly these were developer devices, however, as they ran a native version of Android with no manufacturer or operator tweaks, for those wanting an unadulterated version of Android these were the devices to get. In addition to this as they were Google device they were guaranteed to be first in the update cycle.
Although the Nexus line was a success and arguably was hugely successful as a means to build a loyalist Android fan base, as one of Android's strengths was its ability to offer many options of devices, this wasn't enough to avoid fragmentation.
Google focused some of its efforts into separating out features and apps from the core OS. They would extract certain apps, like Gmail, the Google Camera app, Google Drive and others, and put them onto the Google Play Store. This meant that not only could any device now run the Google apps, if they didn't already, but also meant that they were freed from the OS update cycle – they could now be updated whenever Google wanted to, which turns out to frequently be a Wednesday (poaching another Tech tradition from Microsoft's Patch Tuesday).
While it was useful to get the Google Apps from the Play store, Google then further separated the OS from the features by adding Google Play Services to the Play Store. Play Services is the way that your device's features operate – like cloud services, Location, Google services, Accounts etc. By separating out this feature Google can now update most of the important customer-facing features of the OS, without having to wait until they release the latest OS revision. It also allows for any Android Device running Android 2.2 and up to receive these features.
Using the Play Store as a means to update core features, without OS updates, begs the question – what does an OS update now do?
There are two primary areas that OS updates now target; performance improvements and OS design.
All of this, of course, ends up at the announcement of Google's latest Android release – currently named Android L – although its fair game that to assume this will later gain a sugary snack based name, as we've seen through Android's history. The biggest talking points of Android L so far have been Google's new design aesthetic – named Material – which for the first time since Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), brings a fresh approach to Android design. Although there are many performance improvements in this latest release – one of the most notable is the way Google is tackling battery life on Android devices – switching to a new runtime for the software, and under Project Volta, aiming to improve the efficiency of apps for Android, leading to an increase in battery life.
The folks over at Fulfillment Daily have posted a great infographic on the Power of Social Connection. Most of us understand that being social is in our nature (you only have to look at the success of social networking sites) and has been important to us as a species from an evolutionary perspective, but what makes this most powerful is the content on what the lack of social connection can do to our mental and physical well-being. Check out the infographic below.
A few weeks ago I watched a documentary on that huge productivity killer, Netflix. The documentary was 'The Pixar Story (2007)' and it was fantastic.
To tell you the truth, going into the film I had very little knowledge of Pixar. I knew they were a film animation studio, whose main body of work was in partnership with Disney and they made one of the best films of mine, and certainly many others, childhood - 'Toy Story' along with 'Finding Nemo', 'Monster's Inc.' and 'The Incredibles'. I knew that their logo was the animated lamp that jumps onto the letter 'I' in Pixar and I kind of had a vague knowledge that Steve Jobs was an investor in Pixar. That was as far as I had ever got.
As you grow up you start thinking that family films - like a lot of the films Pixar produces - are actually children's films and as a teenager and young adult that is prettyuncool. So my interest in Pixar deteriorated over time. That trend started to change when in 2010 Disney released Toy Story 3, and not only did I actually go to a cinema to see it (yeah - apparently they do still exist) but it was really good too.
'The Pixar Story' piqued my interested and the narrative behind the company is fascinating. I won't give away a lot of the insights that they give in the film, and I would really encourage you to watch it, but there were some great facts that I just had absolutely no idea about.
For instance, John Lasseter - Pixar's Chief Creative Officer - actually used to work in Disney animation in the 80's before being fired from his position there for trying to create a computer enhanced animated short. After this, he joined George Lucas's Lucasfilm Computer graphics group where he created the first computer animated short. George Lucas sold the Computer Graphics Group, it landed investment from Steve Jobs, and became Pixar.
The first short Pixar produced was called 'Luxo Jr.' - featuring two lamps playing with a ball. The animated lamp went onto become Pixar's hopping lamp logo.
Their first full length film was 'Toy Story' and was distributed by Disney and this became a phenomenal hit - because the ideas, the characters and the animation were so clever and imaginative. They managed to replicate this feat over and over again. The documentary concludes with the eventual sale of Pixar to Disney, where John Lasseter was named Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney's own 'Walt Disney Animation Studios'.
After this I decided to catch up on the Pixar films I had missed during the 'winter years' and almost without exception they are all brilliant. I think in my head I had managed to muddle a lot of computer animated films into one place and decided they were all Pixar films. Most animated films are rubbish, animated on the cheap with very little in the way of an clever story or interesting characters (ahem...Shrek the Halls - I'm looking at you) usually just because it is the 'in' thing. Pixar films are genuinely different, you can tell that the people that work on these films genuinely care about the experience they give people. The documentary even highlighted how many edits and decisions it took to get the expression on Nemo's face just right for about 2 seconds at the towards the end of the film, so that the animation reflected the story.
I had some free Amazon credit, and so I even purchased Frozen and watched that, even with the hype, it was still a really enjoyable film and the usual fairytale ending of 'Prince saves vulnerable woman' was subverted and a different type of love broke the evil spell.
Family films may not come that high on your watch list, but if you had to choose some then make it Pixar films and you won't regret it. Too worried about seeming cool? Find a younger relative, or someone you know that has children and use that as excuse;
"I'm only watching it for the kids..."
That doesn't float your boat either? Turn off Facebook sharing on Netflix and allow yourself to indulge - no one will know but you'll enjoy it.
Currently Listening: Randy Newman - Strange Things
Currently Reading; The Physics of Finance - James Owen Weatherall
Ok - I admit it. I'm a (bit) of a geek. I love efficiency, and statistics, and using data to influence decisions. It's one of the reasons I enjoy being part of the Quantified Self movement. I don't really expect everyone to enjoy these things in the way I do (although it would be pretty awesome) - however, there is one area of our lives that could, and would, be much easier and more enjoyable if we just created some basic principles for walking in the streets. You know the situation. There you are - happily walking along on the pavement (I prefer the left side) when suddenly a wild person uses 'in-the-way' and its super effective. There's a couple of ways this plays out;
a) You acknowledge that a collision is imminent and you move yourself out of the person's way
b) You acknowledge a collision is imminent but you stand your ground - its your pavement as much as theirs and you were there first
c) Both parties think a) or b), creating the 'walking dance' where you both move the same way to avoid each other all the while getting more in each others way
I always used to be an a) kind of guy, I don't want to be responsible for the entanglement of a collision - especially if the person walking towards me is a b). Although, just like with getting on the tube in London - the more you do it, the more resentful and grumpy you become. And so was true for me - after all my years of walking I have become the bitter, resentful, me-first version of b) - but to be honest, I don't really have a problem with this for one simple reason.
People are idiots.
I'm generalising (a little). I'll give some specific examples;
People With Pushchairs
I fully appreciate that you've had a baby - and need that (massive) pushchair to transport said offspring around. Your right to do so does not give you the right to pretend I don't exist. I still inhibit physical space and, as such, ramming your pushchair into my leg does nothing to help you get through me - unless of course I've become some sort of ethereal spirit - in which case I whole heartedly apologise.
The Smartphone Addict
Nope. Your need to check email, tweet, or to check in ("LOOK AT THIS AWESOME PIECE OF PAVEMENT WHERE I AM - #OMG #YOLO") does not take precedence over my need to get to the extremely urgent place I'm going - like the newsagent. Although this one is annoying when they are so enthralled with their digital lives that they can't experience the physical and so get right in your way - I actually watched someone nearly get run over last week because they were glaring down at their phone as they walked into the middle of the road. The worst part of that story was the woman doing it had a pushchair with her and just seemed to be blithely pushing (presumably) her children into danger.
People Wearing Sunglasses
I like wearing sunglasses. They look good and do this other thing of blocking out the sun, which is cool. When its not sunny and you are wearing sunglasses I can not see your eyes. I can not tell which way you are going to walk. So we do the walking dance anyway.
Just because there is one of me and four of you doesn't mean I have to move. You could always break the line. Go two-by-two. It's was Noah's mantra and what God would want. So don't disobey God - break that line. This brings me on to...
I hate crowds. If I wanted to shuffle along to my destination I would have worn different shoes. In big crowds there are always people that think 'me-first' and just try and burst through the crowd going the wrong way. If you've ever been at Clapham Junction station during rush hour you know the feeling. Great big signs everywhere - 'KEEP LEFT' - there are even stairs to the platforms on both sides of the walkway so you need never break the code. Someone always does. I frequently want to trip that person up - but I'm nice and I resist the urge.
Those forward thinking people in charge of ferrying passengers around public transport are onto a great idea. Keep Left.
Seems sensible. Always keep left.
Escalators? Keep left. Pavements? Keep left. Ikea? Keep right (Silly Europeans).
Having a consistent way for 'traffic' is the only way to prevent this devastating and pressing problem. I get annoyed on an at leastweekly basis with people getting in my way - we should have to suffer no longer! Be the change you want to see!
Always. Keep. Left.
I'm not the only one who thinks this random walking doesn't make sense - see this enlightening Yahoo Answers thread (although I don't blame tourists - fully, anyway).
Perhaps the spaghetti walkers are using Isaiah 30:21 as a guide;
"Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it" whenever you turn to the right or left"
It works with driving - I'd say that having a specific orientation to drive in is probably better than spaghetti driving. In fact, thinking about it more, the vast majority of people would not ram someone who was driving near them in a car - so why do people bump into each other on the street? Want to use your smartphone while driving? Much easier when you drive on the one specific side so that no one gets in your way while you're not looking (I don't actually condone using your phone when driving).
We can be that change - follow the "Rule of the Pavement". Walk through your office on the left of the aisle; go shopping and only go up the aisle on the left - don't cross to the other side either (even if this does mean you walk almost twice the distance). If someone questions your mantra, your belief, you have every right to stop and say "I walk on the left for the benefit of mankind".
Let's make it happen. No longer will we be annoyed by people inconsiderately trying to get where they are going. Follow the rules and everyone will live long and prosper.
Oh, and if I catch you tweeting #walkontheleft while randomly meandering across the pavement - I will trip you up.
Currently Listening: Antony and the Johnsons - Crazy In Love
Currently Reading: How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big - Scott Adams
Over the past week, information has been published by Open SSL Advisory about a major internet security bug, Heartbleed, in Open SSL, the encryption method that most sites on the internet use. You're probably wondering why you need to worry about this - after all - security issues on the internet seem to be talked about all the time, with something new to potentially worry about seeming to appear most weeks. This time though, the problem is very serious, with Security expert Brue Schneier describing it as "catastrophic".
The reason you need to worry is that this bug in OpenSSL, used in some of your most popular sites like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, may have been exposing all your password, personal and chat information - basically anything that may have been encrypted (scrambling the data so no one unauthorised can view the information).
In a seemingly confusing message users are being told not to change their passwords yet - the reason for this is that if you change your password before the site has corrected the problem then your new password is exposed too.
So what do you do now that you know your passwords are being exposed, but you can't change them? You protect yourself the best you can and there are a couple of ways you can do this;
Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
Most sites that store important information use Two Factor Verification - a way of verifying your identity though more than one method. Usually this means through the usual username and password login, followed by a verification method that it is you requesting the login, like an authenticator code or a text to your phone with a code to verify your identity.
For a list of sites that currently support two factor authentication visit here.
A good example of why this is necessary;
In October, Adobe was hacked, and I had an account on there with my Microsoft email and, foolishly, had used the same password for both Adobe and Hotmail. I rushed to change the Microsoft password and deleted my Adobe account as I rarely used it. I enabled 2 factor on my Hotmail a few weeks later and found that there had been over 150 unauthorised attempts to access my account with my old password from all over the world, including Vietnam, China, Australia, Russia and the US.
If I hadn't been able to react immediately to the Adobe hack, 2 Factor would have protected my account, as even with the password the people trying to access my account would never have got in.
2FA is a great way to protect yourself, and will come in very useful if any of your passwords have been exposed due to Heartbleed.
When you log into a website, most browsers prompt you if you want to save the password.
Most of us choose to have the browser save the password for us. With so many sites and so many different passwords we need some way to remember them all. However, as soon as that password is saved - written somewhere - it is less secure. So the problem is how do you write them all down but keep them secure?
Effectively what happens is that all your passwords are encrypted by the service. Then a key is given to these in the form of a master password you create. The information stays encrypted until you enter the password locally on your PC. This means that the key is never given out over the internet - so no one can snoop on it.
These services have come a long way over the past year. Since we all use many devices to browse the internet - laptop, tablet, phone etc. - the service is only helpful if you can access your passwords across all devices.
I personally use LastPass and really like and trust it. Just in the past few weeks they have been great - they have added an app login for Android so you can use LastPass to enter passwords into your apps, saving you need to look them up.
One of the most impressive things they've done is in response to Heartbleed - they check your stored sites and advise you if you should change your password to affected sites yet - based on if the site has corrected the issue. This is a great and really powerful tool.
One of the other features I particularly like is the security check feature. They (locally on your device) analyse the passwords you have for strength and repetition across sites and give you a security rating. When I first ran this test I only got 28% and I didn't even really think I had much of a problem!
With so much of our lives stored and managed online, securing your data is so important. Although Heartbleed is one of the worst cases of faulty internet security we've seen in quite some time, instances like these are quite common. If there was a positive to Heartbleed it is bringing this conversation into the mainstream - something that hasn't properly happened since the mobile computing boom.
Of course, the other issue is that 'Heartbleed' doesn't sound all that scary - although its not a nice word, it does weirdly sound almost pleasant, which can unfortunately trivialise the issue.
[In case you were wondering where the name came from - the vulnerability affects an extension called Heartbeat]
I have taken the journey to protect myself too, through 2FA and LastPass so if you have any questions - give me a shout either in the comments below on on Twitter at @dr_motley.
Other great information:
Currently Listening: Ginger - Body Parts
Currently Reading: Miracles Now - Gabrielle Bernstein
Last weekend I watched, along with 6.7 million others, the semi-final of the UK edition of the Voice.Although I have my own thoughts on this show (still too similar to X-Factor, but getting better), one of the main things that struck me was during the voting section of the show. They had Shakira and Enrique Inglesias as guest performers on the show. As far as I can tell, most of the news generated by these performances were Shakira's (shock) lip-syncing vocals, and the social drama that Enrique kissed Kylie and high-fived Will. Very exciting. My thoughts drifted in a different direction during Enrique's (I seem to spell that wrong every time I type it) performance - did you listen to the lyrics?
A snippet from Enrique's song 'I'm a Freak' featuring Pitbull (because if you want a dance-pop song to sound edgy insert Pitbull's copy and paste lyrics and poor delivery, and ensure he says his name at the start, and BOOM - you have a hit on your hands)...
"I tried to let it go, But I'm addicted to your chemicals I got a taste, I want an overdose I love the way she gets so physical Fucks like an animal
Day and night I just imagine how you put your love on me Lights off, lights on Ready for some action Baby, come and give it to me
'Cause I'm a freak The way you pop it and drop it All over me No, I don't want you to stop it Yeah, I'm a freak Baby, I can't lie When you move like that I've got a one track mind,"
While there's nothing actually wrong with this song - it's catchy and danceable - those lyrics are just so painfully obvious and completely lack any kind of subtlety. Sometimes this isn't necessary and, on it's own this song wouldn't be so bad. But modern day pop is littered with horribly transparent songs.
Take another song, Flo Rida's 'Whistle'
"Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby Let me know Girl I'm gonna show you how to do it And we start real slow You just put your lips together And you come real close Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby Here we go"
Pay attention to the lyrics and it's clear that the song is not, in fact, about whistles.
And this trend continues right through almost every single song that tends to hit the charts.
Ok, I'm being a little unfair.
The trend of total and utter, almost condescending, transparency follows through into the other British pasttime we so enjoy, going to the 'club', telling 'the DJ to turn it up' and going to the bar and 'drinking up'. [See: Rihanna, Flo Rida, Kesha (oh, wait I mean Ke$ha), Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Enrique, Chris Brown, Usher, Calvin Harris, Example, David Guetta, Jason Derulo (remember to sing it) and even Snoop Doggy Dogg].
I feel particularly aggrieved by Snoop Dogg. I mean, the guy is a legend - he made me want to compare prices at MoneySupermarket and be EPIC, but now all my respect for him is gone, completely gone, since his Wet/Sweat singles. Geez, some artists just have no integrity...
Part of the problem is that these songs are all so damn catchy. The are songs written (should say designed) to rocket up the charts both here and in the US, and be played, fairly inoffensively, as the soundtrack to boozy nights out in clubs and bars around the world.
So then the question is, are the hit makers behind these songs, being lazy and obvious with the lyrics because they know, ultimately, that they don't matter, or is it a purposely thought out decision to be so up front with their subject matter? I would kinda like to believe it's the former. To say it's the latter kind of implies that the people at the top of this game (Simon Cowell, Max Martin, Ryan Tedder [No. Not Ryan Tedder, his songs are just poor 'Bleeding Love' rewrites...] etc.) believe we, the music purchasing public are almost too stupid to understand and enjoy a song if they are not totally up front with what it's about. I mean how could we enjoy our night out without being told that we should drink up and tell the DJ to turn it up? What would we do if a dance song came on and the lyrics were:
"The kitchen has been ransacked ski trails in the hall a chicken has been dansacked and thrown against the wall in walks this dumb waiter with a fountain pen and pad saying how do you want this alligator the day my pad went MAD"
[Pro-tip: it's John Cooper Clarke]
Of course, I have missed out one of the biggest (and most highlighted) examples of this clash between music and lyrics from 2013. Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' (no, I refuse to link to it).
I know this still opens up debate, as the man himself denies it, although when you look at the lyrics they do seem incredibly misogynistic:
"I know you want it But you're a good girl The way you grab me Must wanna get nasty Go ahead, get at me"
In this case I find it incredibly hard to believe that they didn't consciously set out to write a song like this - it wasn't the result of apathy or laziness. I've always had this image in my mind that Pharrell and Robin Thicke had a bet about what the worst thing they could write into lyrics, but slap it onto a song with a catchy tune and see if people noticed. And no-one did! This whole dark tone of the song only really started getting put under a spotlight after the video was released which almost too obviously tried to show the theme of the song, almost as if they were baiting people to notice. Despite the questionable content of the song, 'Blurred Lines' has sold a staggering 10.5 million copies since it's release in March 2013, in addition to over 300 million views on YouTube.
The phenomenal success of a song that promotes poor attitudes towards women, may actually show that maybe the people at the top are right - maybe we don't care about lyrics, as long as its catchy and we can go out a drink and dance along with it.
So maybe those writers are more talented than we give them credit for.
I remember in school during English we had to learn about how tabloids present news, and how it varied across different papers. The Sun, which is not typically a newspaper held in high regard for the quality of its writing, was actually the most creative.
The headline of 'Wham bam! Sam Cam to be mam (She'll need a new pram)' sounds awful, and tacky, and loaded with puns. But try and write a headline like that - something memorable yet sounding somewhat crude. As someone like myself, just getting into writing, can attest - it's hard!
So then we end up in the most likely position - the people writing the songs know what they are doing.
The songs are usually tight, short, catchy, upbeat and well produced. Instead of viewing the lyric writers as lazy for their totally upfront content - we may, actually, have to say they are pretty good at their jobs. They know what people want to hear, and it is, unfortunately, the case that these songs are successful. If they weren't, there wouldn't be so many of them.
I am being a little unfair to pop music, this disease pops up in a number of genres - however, with pop being the most ubiquitous it is perhaps the most dangerous. Not only do the current generation of pop-orientated youth miss out on a whole culture of impressive lyric writing that delves into storytelling, poetry and art, but they also get pushed a message that there isn't much more to life than going to clubs and getting drunk.
Maybe there is salvation from this situation though. Look a little harder at Flo Rida's lyrics for 'Club Can't Handle Me'
"You know I know how To make em stop and stare as I zone out The club can't even handle me right now"
This lyrical genius - known for his monotone rapping - put into words that feeling towards the end of a long messy night; the feeling of invincibility tempered with the embarrassment of being such a mess.
The come down after the party.
Maybe this generation growing up with the current crop of in your face music will feel that come down, when the life based around drinking, dancing, spending money on expensive club drinks stops seeming so attractive. Maybe Flo Rida will be their voice that will overcome the industry standard. And maybe Flo Rida, with his impressively monotone delivery, will become one of the poet greats of the music world.
But then, maybe not - after all , how could I make my millions by writing a song called 'Drink Me Up' and make my millions if the formula changed?
Currently listening to: Frank Turner - Reasons not to be an Idiot
Currently reading: Of the Abuse of Words - John Locke
Here we go - blog post number one. Post numero uno.
I've always wondered why in the English-speaking world we tend to use a form of Spanish as a phrase - particularly in situations where we are either being prideful and somewhat arrogant ('Looking out for numero uno') or as an awkward repetition of 'number one'. According to the at least 40 seconds of research I just did on the topic, the FreeDictionary describes 'numero uno' as;
- One's own interests
- One that is first in rank, order or importance
With that in mind 'numero uno' does seem to be a pretty good description of a blog - it will be wholeheartedly self-indulgent (giving myself the pretence that anyone will really want to know my ramblings on any topic that happens to be on my mind) and - with any luck, will power or all out bribery - become a highly visited and respected (!) site.
I guess this must mean that I am now a blogger? I don't feel any different yet.
I thought I was meant to be sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, drinking my cappuccino, wearing glasses and writing something meaningful and poetic. As it turns out I'm sitting at home watching TV and attempting to put together a somewhat interesting start to my 'career' as a blogger. Apparently this blogging thing is going to be different than I had expected.
I don't know where we are going yet but I hope you enjoy the journey.
Currently listening to: Sonic Youth - Teen Age Riot
Currently reading: For Who The Bell Tolls - David Marsh