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More than meets the eye

In the world of boys toys, you cannot get much cooler than robots.  R2D2 is one, Optimus Prime is one, and the Daleks are also very robotic.  A robot that transforms into a car, or other vehicle, is pure bliss for my young nephew, who, like me, is a Transformers fan.

I may be a fully grown adult but I still have respect for a good robot toy.  It is not like I sit there playing with robots (much) but a good toy is a good toy, end of.

From what I can glean from the internet, it appears that Transformers were available to buy way back in 1984.  A TV show in cartoon form came out in around 1985, and the start of a global franchise soon started to rear its head, it seemed there really was ‘more than meets the eye.’

Autobots, transform!

The autobots and decepticons have enjoyed a rollercoaster ride of success ever since, and after a dip in popularity in the late 1990s, films about the robots started to make an appearance.  This undoubtedly rekindled the flame for the old Transformers, and a new generation of fresh fans also joined the mix.

There are a lot of Transformer related products, most obviously and notably there are the toys.  Also, there are quite a few films, thousands of cartoons, a few computer games, board games, t-shirts, pencil cases, books, comics, the list is almost endless.  My nephew has a few of the larger scale toys, and I have to be honest, some of them are a pain to successfully ‘transform’ into their respective vehicles and back.  That, however, did not stop me playing with them for hours on end!

The internet rules

Isn’t it an amazing thing?  What other media is out there that can connect so many people from so many places?  I’ve got friends on the internet that I would never have otherwise known, some people that I know better than a lot of people in the Real World and I can’t see that as a bad thing.

Governments talk about regulating the internet, and I know they do that in some countries like China and Syria, but I hope the ‘true’ democracies (at least, the ones that are closest to democracy) never do.

It’s not just about feel good kitten pictures and gamers trading insults (though both of these are good uses of the World Wide Web).  It’s about communication on a truly global scale and connecting up people from different cultures and countries.

Some people might think that the web makes the world a smaller place, but because it gives me access to information about the world that I might not have been able to find outside of a library before – and couldn’t find easily even in a library, thanks to the ultra-complicated Dewey Decimal System – I think it has widened my horizons and improved my quality of life.  It makes me want to learn more, so if I decided to change my life journey completely and start over, I would have the tools in my brain to enable that.  Maths teaching here I come!  (Only joking!).

That’s what makes it valuable to me.  What do you get out of it?

SpyWare – scary software or scary people?

I know I’m just a softie, a big scaredy-cat who doesn’t know much about anything except cars, but this is seriously worrying stuff.  How many of us have a crazy ex?  Everyone I know has had at least one weirdo chasing them for too long.

It seems that the IT world has picked up its spyware products and decided to commercialise them to the weirdos of the world.  Okay, not just to the weirdos, also to parents and employers, both of whom could be seen to have reasonable needs in this area.

What happens is (and we’re talking worst case scenario here), the love of your life, who thinks you’re cheating on him/her, gets a few moments alone with your phone.  Maybe you left it at home one day.  They install some software onto it (there are different kinds for different operating systems, like Android or iPhone) and it snuggles deep into the phone’s software.

You collect your phone again, and carry out your daily life as usual, but while you think there’s nothing strange going on, your evil partner is receiving regular updates from your phone. Updates such as where you are, voice conversations that you’ve had, and text messages you’ve sent.  You’d better hope you aren’t cheating, because the partner will find out.

Parents use it to keep an eye on their offspring, and really open parents tell their kids they’re doing it.  That might be enough to prevent them from accessing unsuitable sites, or taking part in cyber/phone bullying.  It also helps parents to protect their kids because they can vet who they speak to in chat rooms.  This can only be a good thing nowadays.

Employers use it to check up on their workers.  If you have a works phone, you can almost guarantee that if you’re using it for personal means, they’ll find out.  It’s a bit 1984. Orwell would be horrified!

Because the software disguises itself as normal operating system applications in the apps list, there’s no easy way to work out if you are being spied on, however there are a few pointers to remember.

If your phone is lighting up for no apparent reason, making funny clicking noises when you talk on it, running the battery down within an hour, or getting hot even when you’re not using it, then there’s a good chance you’ve got a spy on board.

The cure is to reset it back to factory settings, but don’t forget you’ll lose everything on it, so back it up first and then reset.

But – and here’s the million dollar question – is it the software or the people who are the problem?

The Best Smartphone to buy for Teens

My niece’s birthday is coming up soon, and I want to get her a nice smartphone, although when I was a teenager, the dawn of smartphones had just started. Now it seems impossible to get through a day without having the beloved multitasker by your side. But, when it comes to buying a smartphone for a teenager, a lot of things need to be thought about especially when looking at second hand ones like I am.

Here is my watch list when buying a phone for the youth of today.

1)     Embarrassment Factor

Be aware what you are buying could result in bullying taunts and general fits of uncool if the right handset is not on display.  Kids don’t get retro its as simple as that.

2)     Social Media

Make sure that every app that allows communication with the peer group is fully installable.  There is no facebook app on your old Nokia where the only game available is Snake.

3)     Accessories.

Forget the phone lets get to the nitty gritty. Can you get a JLS case for it or an Olly Murs ringtone?  If the answer is no to either of the questions don’t even entertain the idea.

If however you do get the purchasing decision right you will have a friend for life who will lay their new found superstar status in the schoolyard squarely at your door.  So to sum up buy an Iphone J

My top YouTube channels – comedy

Recently I’ve had a lot of time on my hands and have found possibly some of the best YouTube channels out there, almost guaranteed to give me a laugh when I feel like I need one.

The Janoskians

This group of five teenage boys call themselves the Janoskians, short for Just Another Name Of Silly Kids In Another Nation Skip, and they are based in Australia. Although they have a lot of videos, the Janoskians are best known for their Awkward Train Situations and Awkward Situations in an Elevator videos, where they create an incredibly awkward situation in a public place whilst videoing the reactions of strangers and then uploading the videos to YouTube.

Bad Lip Reading

Bad Lip Reading is a channel that takes scenes from blockbuster movies, usually ones that appeal to younger children, such as The Hunger Games and Twilight. Their ‘lip readings’ and subsequent ‘scripts’ always leave me in fits of laughter.


CollegeHumor is American- hence the ‘misspelling’ of the word ‘humour’, but some of their videos are absolutely hilarious. They have over 2.9 million subscribers, and their videos range from stuff like frighteningly accurate comical takes on college life to spoofs of popular movies, tv-shows and whatever the current ‘fad’ is.

Jenna Marbles

Jenna Marbles (real name Jenna Mourey) is a 27-year-old YouTube personality who posts weekly videos every Wednesday. I thoroughly enjoy her sarcastically funny outtake on life and everyday situations that occur in her life. She gained fame via her video “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” and her “How To Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To” video was even featured in the New York Times. Even though it may seem like her fanbase would be mainly women, it is pretty balanced and many men also subscribe to her channel.


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