Silent Sunday

Trying Out A New Look

I’ve been trying out a few new looks for the A/W 2011 season. What do you think?

Ha, don’t worry, I don’t think it does anything for me either. Not a bad get up with Halloween on the horizon though, is it? Anyway, it’s not real, the chances of me succumbing to zombiefication are small, I’m well prepared! These four fetching looks were achieved with the magic of ZombieBooth , an app I downloaded for my Samsung Galaxy Pro.

I think it says a lot about my personality that one of the first things I searched for on Android Market was ‘things to do with zombies’ (that’s ‘stuff pertaining to’, as opposed to ‘ways of entertaining’ the walking dead). This is one of the best I’ve found. And it’s not just still images either, the transformation is quite impressively animated and complemented with suitably creepy groaning.

If you touch the screen your zombie will leap upon the opportunity to punish your lack of care and chomp on the offending digit, complete with blood splatters and squelchy noises. Awww, cute! And, speaking of cute, you can even zombify your pets. Though I actually find the results a lot more scary than ‘normal’ zombies. My cat already takes great delight in biting me for no apparent reason and seems to be plotting to kill me as it is (why else would he sleep on the stairs?), so zombie kitties might be a step too far for me. See what I mean?

This is a great app to have on your device, especially as we are now in the month of all things spooky. It’s incredibly easy to use, you can quickly snap photos of all your mates, store them on your phone and turn them into your army of undead before you can say “George A. Romero!”.

If Only Home Decorating Was This Simple! (Samsung Mob!lers)

No offence to my beloved moggie but I’m bored of him staring out at me from my phone. I decided to have a change. I’ve yet to decide exactly which wallpaper I want (no doubt I’ll have about seven or eight before I settle on one, which will, if I’m honest, will probably be the cat again!) but I thought I’d do a quick tutorial with the Samsung Galaxy Pro on how ridiculously easy it is to have any picture you should so desire on your phone.

I thought I’d use the above photo for a few reasons. Mainly because it’s super pretty but also because I took it on holiday (was it only two months ago?!) which brings back a happy memory and also because the content might remind me to reach for a piece of fruit, rather than a lump of cake, if I look at it often enough. So, picture chosen, I transferred it to my phone and opened it using the gallery. I then selected the ‘More’ menu and pressed the ‘Set As’ option.

I modified the image to crop the part of the photo I wanted to use then selected to have the picture spread across both home screens.

Select ‘save’ and you’re done. Here you can see how the image is stretched to fill both screens. Nifty eh? And it took me about 2 minutes to do from start to finish.

I’ve also used a neat little app called Zedge for new wallpapers (as well as ringtones) which is great if you want to change the look of your phone in even less time. Easy to use and (there’s that magic word again) free. Just type in a key word and see what pops up. You could even use a photo manipulation app like Pixlr-o-matic which adds really impressive retro effects to your photographs which you could then set as a wallpaper. The options are endless. Have fun!

Have Gogglebox Will Travel (Samsung Mob!lers)

Could you live without your TV set? I definitely could. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a program as it was broadcast. When a series comes along that I really want to see (I can really only think of ‘True Blood’ and ‘Walking Dead’ at this point) I record and then burn the episodes to DVD to watch all in one go so I can stick it to the man by spinning through the ads. I’ve never been a big fan of being told what to do (or when to do it) and with the myriad of ‘on demand’ TV available online, it seems like madness (MADNESS I tell you!) to plan your life around TV schedules when you can now fit it around your own timetable.

For the most part I tend to watch online content on my laptop, simply because it’s a nice big screen but the availability of various media players (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player) on Android Market means I can also now view all my favourite programs on something more portable. Which means you can watch video anywhere………. anywhere (you know where I mean, just make sure you put your phone down before you stand up to flush!). Currently that portable device is the Samsung Galaxy Pro which is great for keeping me entertained on train journeys. I’m hoping to get my mitts on one of the frankly, gorgeous, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, which means I’ll get all the easy accessibility with a bigger screen. Can’t be bad.

It’s not just TV you can watch though, oh no, it’s movies, movie trailers and, the ever popular and seemingly never-ending, array of clips of cats doing cute things.

Recently I’ve been watching the 4th series of BBC comedy ‘Outnumbered’. I think the kids are fab though, if I’m honest, I think the older they get the less charming their antics become. Great writing, some fab ad-libs and a nice half an hour watch.

I’m forever visiting to answer that eternal question when watching a film – “What’s he/she been in?”. Remember the days before t’Interweb? When things like that would drive you ever so slightly mad until all of a sudden it came back to you at 3am and you sit bolt upright in bed shouting “DUNCAN!” as you *finally* remember the name of Kevin Costner’s manservant in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Just me? Oh. Anyway, now I use IMDB to view trailers too. Here’s one for Lars Von Trier’s latest, Melancholia.

I’m a big fan of Blinkbox for watching movies online. Primarily because they have a great selection of free (one of my favourite words, along with ‘all you can eat buffet breakfast’) movies, many of which are ‘video nasties’ from the 80s such as Flesh for Frankenstein and The Beyond which I’d wanted to see since watching Jake West’s (essential) documentary on the subject.

I’m not ashamed of my love of cat videos, as far as I’m concerned it’s what the Internet was invented for and if everyone watched a cute cat video once a day there would be a lot less depressed people in the world (though global productivity would probably slide). While ‘real’ cats are all well and good, there is something extra special about the Simon’s Cat videos. I never get bored of them.



Finally, I tend to use catch-up TV for viewing my guilty pleasures, stuff that I can shut off quickly, should someone come into the room and discover my dirty little secrets. Bizarre ER on BBC is one of these and, in the same vein (HA – geddit?!), Embarrassing Bodies from Channel 4. The great thing about watching online also means that when I start to feel a bit faint, as I inevitably will, I can pause it, make a cup of sweet tea, then start again. Don’t ask me why I do it to myself. I have no idea.

Who Needs a Personal Trainer? (Samsung Mob!lers)

So, a few weeks ago I was saying how we increasingly find ourselves using mobiles phones in every area of our lives. Well, guess what? I’ve found something else to use mine for.

I’ve never been a fitness freak but in recent years I’ve developed (or, more accurately, rediscovered) a love of swimming. I go at least twice weekly, it gives me a buzz and hopefully helps to counteract the less healthy bits of my life. Not to mention turning my stomach on the odd occasion, but I try not to let that put me off.

I’ve always felt at home in the water but my lessons stopped when I finished school (and most of them seemed to involve waiting for the boys to stop pushing each other in or watching my friend go into full blown panic because she had water up her nose) so I’ve never had chance to hone my style as an adult. I’ve seen posters advertising adult lessons at the pool but they tend to be for people who can’t swim at all (*laughs and points*) rather than people who want to enhance their techniques. Step forward then, the Go Swim app (a companion to the website) which provides tips and instruction, as well as photos and films, to help swimmers of all abilities improve their strokes.

I’ve found it incredibly useful, especially the pieces on warm-ups, which I never considered doing but now seem obvious, given that I often swim full pelt for over an hour at a time (yes, I know it doesn’t look like that’s possible but I promise you I’m quite a graceful beast in the water, like those ballet dancing hippos in Fantasia!).

Obviously you can check out the website when you’re online at home but it’s great having the videos on your phone to study the examples before or after your swim – I’d suggest NOT trying it during but if you’ve got an underwater phone, who am I to stop you?

Failing to be Moved

If you follow me on Twitter or we’re friends on Facebook, no doubt you’ve spotted me moaning about our house sale over the past few months. After 2 years on the market we accepted an offer in June (was it June? It could have been May, it’s all so very long ago) and since then I’ve felt like life has been on hold while we wait for other people to move things on (at a snail’s pace it would seem). At every single stage there have been hold ups, miscommunications, mistakes and, without going into the mind-numbingly boring details, it has, thus far, been a ruddy nightmare. And we still don’t have a moving date.

The thing is, speaking to other people who have recently been through the same process, we’re not alone. In fact, most people seem to find the experience nothing short of horrific. It’s not the physical moving process (though the control freak in me does NOT relish the prospect of giving three strangers a van full of my stuff and letting them drive off with it!), it’s the build up, the legalities, the bureaucratic faffery and general messiness of the thing. And it’s not as if it isn’t something that happens on a fairly regular basis. AND with the market as quiet as it is right now, surely all relevant parties should have more time to concentrate on the cases they do have.

What I’m saying is, it shouldn’t be this difficult, should it? I swear it will be a miracle if I make it into a new house without my hair having turned completely white. I’ve told N that we’re never moving again and we haven’t even moved yet! If I am totally truthful, I think one of the reasons I’m so fractious is that, in readiness for moving, and so we don’t have to pack up 150 tins of tomatoes/fruit and umpteen bags of rice/pasta, I have been running down my Zompocalypse cupboard which makes me feel vulnerable and a bit grumpy. If Z-Day hits now I shall be utterly livid.

If someone could just reassure me that it’ll all be fine, the Zompocalypse won’t break out until after the move and I’ve had chance to restock, and that by Christmas I’ll be settled in the new place and all this madness will be a distant memory, that would be lovely. Or feel free to purge yourself of your own horror stories too.

Won’t Someone Think of the Children?! (Samsung Mob!lers)

When I was a nipper, my Gran was impressed (and no doubt a wee bit scared/hacked off) that I could program the video recorder whereas she had trouble turning on the TV. Some things never change and kids are still often more au fait with new technology than many of the older generations. It’s second nature to them and they have no fear of ‘pressing the wrong button’ – though this is probably because they didn’t buy whatever they’re fiddling with and so have no concept of how expensive it would be to replace.

Either way, I have it on good authority that the small annoying people (that would be children) love technology and often borrow their parents’ devices to ‘play on’ (read keep them quiet while Mummy tries to stave off the fourth migraine of the week). The guys at the Samsung Mob!lers obviously aren’t aware (and why should they be?) of my disinterest in all things kiddiefied (unless you include cartoons, stuffed animals and brightly coloured sweets which, for some strange reason, seem to be aimed primarily at kids – I quite like all of those things) and have asked me to come up with app ideas for under 5s (They’re the one’s that are about *holds hand a couple of foot above the ground* this big, yeah?). If I haven’t made it clear before, children and all the surrounding hoo-hah, do nowt for me. But hey, I like a lot of stuff that kids like, I get on pretty well with most of the ones I meet, so I’m possibly better placed to complete the mission than I first thought.

So, what did I like when I was a kid? Pretty much the same things as I like now – food, animals, films, reading (yes, I could read very early on – thanks to Mum for making me a precocious little madam). With that in mind, I think I’d like to see something that entertains and educates. I basically learnt everything I needed to know in life from watching Sesame Street, though I do now lay the blame for my fat ass squarely at the door of the Cookie Monster! I think something that allows the child to express creativity would be a great addition too. So perhaps a selection of basic words (illustrated by pictures) that can be selected (by the child) and arranged (by the app) into a story which is then spoken back to the user, while they read along. The user could illustrate the story (perhaps following a guide) and the app could animate the pictures (similar to the fantastico Draw A Stickman that seems to be doing the rounds on social networks this week). The story could be saved and/or emailed.

Cute huh? I bet something like it already exists. Unless I’ve just blogged, and given away for free, my million dollar making idea. Ach well, consider it a gift. And if anyone asks about my generosity, we’ll tell ’em I did it for the kids.

Do you have any opinions on children using technology? Do you allow your kids to play on your gadgets or do they have their own? What are their favourite apps and do they know more about how to use them than you? Or would you prefer that kids were out in the fresh air?

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