How My Mind Works

I recently wrote a blog post called Living With Autism. It was mostly about the schools I attended in the past. It has recieved a lot of positive comments, so I must be doing something right. However, the original purpose of that blog post was to give people an idea of what autism is. It can redefine autism for peeople who already know about it, and it can give people with autism a better way of looking at it. However, for people who haven’t heard of it, I think I could do better.

Autism affects the aspects of the human mind that involve communication. For most people, autism affects general social skills. However, it can also affect language, and some people with autism never learn to speak. Although most people know this, a lot of people don’t know what to make of that definition. This post is there to clarify this definition, and to clear up what is and isn’t true.

To begin, autism isn’t always a disability and therefore shouldn’t always be treated like one. This mistake is made a lot, particularly by schools. At my previous school, I had someone sitting next to me in some of my classes telling me what to write in my lesson notes. One of my in class assistants insisted on reading to me what was written on the whiteboard. I didn’t need that and to be honest, it drove me mad.

The next thing I want to make clear is that people with autism generally think a lot more than other people realise. No matter what everyone thinks, this is nearly always true. This means that if someone makes fun of me for what they think I don’t understand, I’m going to know. A lot of people would get offended by that stuff, but I just laugh at those people and ignore them.

Something else I want to make clear is that I am more interested in getting to know people than you think. I haven’t always been interested in having a social life, but I am now, and that is the same for many other people with autism. When I am at school, I don’t talk to other people because I find it hard to start a conversation. However, if you talk to me, I will talk to you. As I get to know you, I will come out of my metaphorical shell and seem like a normal person by the mainstream definition.

One more thing I want to make clear about myself is that I am happy to be asked about my differences. That isn’t true for everyone, but people who don’t like to be asked about autism likely look at it as a negative thing. My previous post about autism, linked in the first paragraph, should be able to help those people by giving them a different point of view, as well as knowledge of the life of someone else with autism. If someone with autism looks at it with my point of view, they will see it as a good thing in some aspects, and they should therefore be quite happy to talk about it.

So, how do you tell who has autism? Well, obviously, it is easier said than done. However, there are common aspects of autism that can make it easier for you to take a guess. The most obvious way to tell is if someone isn’t talking to other people. However, that way of making a guess on who has autism shouldn’t be used exclusively. That person could be depressed, or simply, just choosing not to talk to anyone.

Another very common aspect of autism is an avoidance of eye contact with other people. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why people with autism don’t seem to be interested in talking to others. If that same person isn’t talking to other people, that person probably has autism. However, if they are talking to others, they could just be trying to ignore you.

The most reliable aspect of autism, for guessing who has it, is a sensitivity to loud noises. Not all people with autism have this problem, and a lot of people have this problem only some of the time. In my case, I am usually able to drown it out. However, I am less able to ignore it if I am sick, stressed out, or if I have to listen to it a lot. As far as I know, not many other people have this problem.

To sum it up, autism isn’t like many other mental conditions. I think of my mind as more like a computer in certain aspects. I programmed my mind to understand English and to talk to other people. I am a bit different, but I don’t see myself as “disabled”. Because of that, if scientists found a “cure” for autism, I would stay away from it and die before trying it. On the inside, I am a lot more like a normal person by the mainstream definition, and people realise that as they get to know me.

Posted on Sunday 11th November 2012 - 8 comments

iMac G3 Retro Review

About a year ago, I got hold of an iMac G3 that was found in the street. Unfortunately, it is just the iMac, without the mouse and keyboard. However, I still have a computer from the line of computers that saved Apple in the late 1990’s.

As far as I can tell, the machine I have was originally purchased in 2000. It has an indigo back and a slot loading disc drive. It also has a 350MHz processor, 192MB RAM and a 10GB hard drive. It weighs a little bit less than 16kg, and there is a handle on the top of it, in case you want to take it to Starbucks.

When I got hold of the iMac G3, it was running Mac OS X Panther and still is, as I can’t be bothered to upgrade it. Because of that, there aren’t that many applications that will not run on that computer, and there are no modern Internet browsers available for it. It is not officially able to run Mac OS X Tiger, which makes this machine too old and complicated for regular use.

Although this computer is running very outdated software, it is excellent for the time. My favourite feature in older versions of OS X is the look and feel. There are some things I like about the look of OS X Mountain Lion, but I do miss the aqua blue scrollbars. As for the dock at the bottom of the screen, it is free of lag, even with magnification turned on, and the software works very well with the hardware.

The computer comes with Apple Works, an office suite that came with all Macs at the time before we saw iWork. Apple Works is easy to use. It is fairly simple, but it has all the features most people need in an office suite. The Apple Works suite is packaged into one application, and it is great for those who want Microsoft Office, but don’t want to fork out around £100 for it.

The iMac is able to boot into Mac OS 9.2 which may be a useful feature for some people. However, I didn’t find anything you could do in OS 9 that you can’t do in OS X. OS 9 looks like it was made in the 90’s, and that’s because it was. Apple’s transition to OS X was a smart move, as Macs today are much easier today than they were in the 90’s.

The iMac G3 is a great computer for anyone who isn’t a heavy Internet user. Right now, it is a machine for someone who doesn’t care about having the latest software or the fastest hardware. Although it isn’t good enough for the average user today, it would be fine for people who are new to computers.

Posted on Wednesday 7th November 2012 - 1 comment

Living With Autism

My name is Jack Durrant and I have high functioning autism. The mainstream definition of autism is “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people” –The National Autistic Society. However, this post is about my life, and the purpose of it is to give people a better idea of what autism really is.

When I first found out I had autism, I was essentially told the mainstream definition of it. I was about 7 or 8 and had very limited language back then, so my mum could only really tell me that I “find it hard to make friends”. Now, this is good as a basic definition of autism, as I do find it hard to talk to people I don’t know. However, as you can imagine, I wanted to find out more. I wanted to know why I found it hard to make friends, and I wanted to find out why I was getting beaten up at my school.

When I was 5, I started going to Robert Blair Primary School. The reason I started school a year later than everyone else is because my mum wanted to find a better school. Robert Blair was a terrible school. However, it was the only school with a language unit for students with communication difficulties.

I was bullied a lot at Robert Blair because I was different. To the other students, I was the freak. Not all the other students hated me, and a lot of the students were actually alright. However, there were enough bullies to make me forget about everyone else and to make me think I was a freak.

I was told, multiple times, that when another student messes with me, I should tell a teacher and they would sort it out. However, the teachers never helped me out and, as far as I can remember, the teachers never mentioned in an assembly that you shouldn’t bully someone else for being a bit different.

There are three memories I have from Robert Blair that I would like to share. If you want to know more, just ask in the comments. I have plenty more to share. My first memory is of being punched in the face in the lunch queue, right in front of a teacher. I didn’t see the student who punched me, but a teacher watched it happen and did absolutely nothing about it.

My second memory at Robert Blair is in the break time. I was hiding under a sort of climbing frame, hiding from other kids who potentially wanted to beat me up. Then, some kid walked up to me and said “Hello ugly”. Before I had time to say “I’m not ugly” and get a proper look at his face, he threw gravel in my face and ran off. I ran out, crying like a three year old.

My third memory was the work I was given. The school were treating me like I had a learning difficulty, and I eventually thought I did. I was in Year 4, and I was being asked to find words that rhyme with “cat”. This is work that is insultingly simple, even for nursery kids. When I asked my teacher for something else to do, she told me in a disrespectful manner to sit down and carry on finding words. The teachers at the school were too lazy to give me proper work and a lot of the time, they were very disrespectful to the students.

I made a few friends at Robert Blair, and most of them also had autism. However, they all left the school and went to Hillingdon Manor. I asked my mum about going there and she said that probably wouldn’t be possible, as it was in the outskirts of London. However, we took a look at the school and eventually, I started going there.

Robert Blair and the council’s education autorities didn’t want me to change schools because they didn’t want to get a bad reputation by admitting that they couldn’t meet my needs. They said I would never do very well in life and even said that I liked it at Robert Blair. However, my mum took me out of school to have an IQ test. My mum had to get all the evidence she could, to prove I needed to move on from Robert Blair until, eventually, they gave in.

When I went to Hillingdon Manor, there was a massive difference. The 90 minute bus ride it took to get to school every day was a bit of a pain. However, I fit in a lot better at that school, as everyone else was as weird as I was! Hillingdon Manor is an autistic school. They focus less on educating students according to the national curriculum and more on helping them out with their autism, and at the time, that was more important for me.

I loved going to Hillingdon Manor at first. However, eventually, it was time for me to leave. Hillingdon Manor is a great school, but for me, it wasn’t perfect any more. In the math lessons, I was being taught insultingly simple stuff that I already knew from learning it the year before. I was starting to become Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. If you haven’t watched the Big Bang Theory, end your misery now. Click the link and watch some videos.

When I left Hillingdon Manor, I went to the International Community School. This school is an International Baccalaureate school. The IB is recognised as a better education system, as it gives students a wider education. However, it didn’t work for me. The IB requires students to learn a foreign language and a humanities subject to get a diploma. I also joined the IB course in the middle of it, when I was 14. To do the IB, you really need to start from the beginning. Besides, A Levels better meet my needs anyway.

Another problem with the International Community School is that the school was not made for students with autism. A lot of schools tend to hire people who don’t know a lot about special needs. I don’t know why that is, but at some point, I had an assistant sitting next to me in class telling me to hurry up, when I am very slow at handwriting. Eventually, I told her that I found it annoying, to which she said she found it annoying that I don’t look at her. She had no right to say that, as difficulty with eye contact is a very common aspect of autism.

Because of my autism, I get extra time in exams as a right. I read and write slower than other people and need that extra time. However, when I was at the International Community School, I was told I had extra time in an exam, but I saw the next class in that room waiting outside. They weren’t annoyed, but, as anyone who doesn’t work at that school would understand, I felt very awkward. My extra time should be in a room that doesn’t have another class in it, and I should not have to feel embarrassed to use it. When I told my school that, they understood me and started properly giving me extra time almost immediately. However, the initial mistake wasn’t very clever.

The International Community School said they couldn’t send one of their school buses to my house as it was in an area without that many students, which meant I had to take the London Underground to school. I couldn’t handle that very well, as the trains were packed. The Tube in London isn’t as bad as the Tube in Tokyo, but it is still overcrowded and I eventually started taking the bus, which isn’t much better.

When I was at the International Community School, I changed loads. I went from being a confused, very emotional child in a completely new place to being the computer freak. The students at the International Community School thought I was a bit different, as I didn’t talk as much as the other students did, but I wasn’t the freak I was at Robert Blair.

Now, let’s go back to what this blog post is meant to be about – my definition of autism. It took me years to figure out what autism meant and before I had it all figured out, I looked at it in a slightly negative way, being told it was a disability. However, I know now that I am not disabled. I don’t feel disabled and I look normal like everyone else.

Some people with autism let themselves become disabled, and some don’t get the help they need and end up thinking they are disabled. However, I look at in the same way I look at homosexuality. People think it is a bit weird at first and people like Adolf Hitler don’t think they should be allowed to live. However, when it is explained properly, a good person will understand and accept that some people are a bit different.

Commenting is encouraged.

Posted on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 - 13 comments

The History of Computers : Printers (Humour)

A higher end printer and scanner

Printers are devices that people used in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s for transferring information from a computer, such as still images and non interactive documents, to sheets of white paper.

Why was this done? There are several reasons. It was done mainly because most people didn’t have Internet access, and even those who did could only get dial up, because LTE and Gigabit Fibre Optic Internet didn’t exist. However, slow Internet access wasn’t the only reason people used Printers. They were also used because there were also no tablets back then, but people still wanted to hold documents in their hand to read them.

Printers were also used a lot in schools. They were still used in some schools in 2020. Nobody knows why schools refused to evolve with technology, but there was one case where a physics student received a detention for not handing in his Physics lab report on time. It turned out that he did the lab report and sent it to his teacher. He just wanted a printed copy of it.

Printers were very unreliable for many reasons. The main reason they have a bad reputation today is because of the ink cartridges they used. They cost a lot of money. In some cases, they would cost more than the printer itself. On later printer models, the printers were even programmed to tell the user that they needed to replace one of their ink cartridges every six months.

Another reason people always hated printers was because of paper jams. They were a big problem in older printers, where a sheet of paper would get stuck in the printer for no obvious reason. Although printer manufacturers did not originally intend for them to happen, lower end printers were programmed to get paper jams in the early 2000’s, as it encouraged users to buy higher end printers.

Printers caused misery for many people around the world. In fact, there are over 2 billion recorded suicides that were linked directly to printers. However, on the announcement of the original iPad from Apple, there was hope. There were huge celebrations worldwide about the iPad and the closely approaching death of printers.

It took nearly a decade for people to understand the idea of tablets and why we need them. For that decade, printers were still used. However, as time went on, tablets were getting cheaper and more widely available, and people were becoming increasingly frustrated by printers.

Today, printers are quite rare. They can sometimes be found on eBay, and they are usually sold for almost nothing by people who had to use them every day and want to get rid of them. However, it is very hard to find a working ink cartridge. Because of that, most people at the moment will never know the pain and suffering caused by printers.

This blog post is a joke and should not be taken seriously. This post is meant to be a prediction of an online article, set a few decades in the future.

Posted on Wednesday 26th September 2012 - Leave a comment

My Thoughts On The iPhone 5

iPhone 5

Another thing I would have liked to see with the new iPhone is more of an iPod Touch design. What I mean is, the design Apple decided to go with is not consistent with the rest of Apple’s products. Apple’s MacBooks have a silver and black design with a curved top, while the iPhone has a black and slate design with a squared back. It doesn’t look bad, but it is not consistent with other Apple products.

Another problem with the iPhone 5 is the name of it. It is a fairly small problem, and in many ways, it makes sense. However, this iPhone is the sixth generation and calling it the iPhone 5 doesn’t logically make sense. A lot of people think Apple called this phone the iPhone 5 because everyone already knows what the iPhone 5 is. However, I think Apple decided on that name because they had a go at making an iPhone 5 last year and failed, so this year, they decided to try again.

Posted on Saturday 15th September 2012 - 1 comment

Next Nexus Wish List

Google’s next Nexus device is going to be announced in a few months, so I thought I would write about what I want to see. I say device, but my best guess is that there will be multiple devices, probably including a 10-inch tablet.

There have been rumours that Google will not announce the next version of Android right away. However, I think there will be a new version of Android. Google will announce Android 4.2 Key Lime Pie, which will mostly consist of minor improvements and changes behind the scenes.

Android 4.2 Key Lime Pie

Lock Screen

The lock screen in Android 4.2 will get added customization. Currently, a slide to the left launches the camera application and there is no way to change that on the default lock screen. In Android 4.2, the left slide shortcut will be set to launch the camera by default, but the user will be able to set that shortcut to turn the phone’s ringer off, or to launch an application. When the user adds an app to the lock screen, the system will generate a white icon for the app, to keep the clean look.

Default Launcher

Android 4.2 will come with changes to the default launcher. Google will remove the line that separates the dock from the home screen panels, and it will be replaced with a stronger shadow effect under the dock. This will give it a cleaner look, and it will make Android look less robot-like and more friendly to the average user.

The dock will be able to hold up to six icons, and the user will be able to move the app drawer icon anywhere in the dock. The app drawer shortcut will also be able to be removed from the dock in the system settings, to make space in the dock for one more icon. The home button will then open the app drawer, which will make it a bit more useful.

Music

Google Play Music will finally become available on the Google Play Store in the United Kingdom. Google Music was available in the United States many months ago, and it was updated to Google Play Music to go with all the other Google Play services. Google’s Nexus devices have Google Play Music preinstalled on them in the United Kingdom, but I don’t know if they are updated. I think it’s about time Google releases Play Music internationally.

Although Google Play Music is not officially available in the United Kingdom, it is fairly easy to do an online search for the apk to download, and I have done that several times. I try to avoid using Play Music because it looks quite ugly. I love the icon, but when you open the app, there’s an ugly background that I just don’t get. Google will probably change that to a clean look and feel sooner or later, which will probably look more like a stock Android app. That will probably happen in Android 4.2.

Chrome

One change I think Google will make in Chrome for Android will not be entirely in the browser. It will be more in the operating system and the launcher. Users will be able to install websites as web apps on their home screen. It is currently possible to add a bookmark from Chrome to the home screen. However, it shows the toolbars from the browser and although they move back up into the top of the screen when the page is done loading, a proper full screen web app would be better.

For Chrome web apps to look good, Chrome will have to get faster at loading things. There isn’t yet a way to make actual web pages load instantly just yet. However, one thing I think all Internet browsers should have by now is web page caching. By that, I basically mean that when you click on a link to go to a new web page, the previous page should be set aside, but not completely closed. That way, when you go back, the previous page would load instantly. They could also add a window animation in there, just to add to the effect.

System

A few months ago, I watched a YouTube video with someone’s wish list for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, before it was announced. I don’t remember everything he said, but he mentioned that some apps in Android 4.0 have a white background and other apps have a black background. I since tried out CyanogenMod 9 and I know exactly what he was talking about. He mentioned that Google could add a setting for all apps to be white or black to solve the consistency problem, and I completely agree with him.

I’m not completely familiar with the process phone manufacturers have to do to get their custimizations ported to newer versions of Android, but Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was released nearly two months ago, and it still isn’t on the HTC One S and One X, or on the Samsung Galaxy S III. The process clearly involves more than moving the APKs over, and I think Google might be able to do something to make it easier for phone manufacturers to release updates.

I think Android also needs customization options for the buttons at the bottom of the screen. Currently, you get back, home, multitasking and menu, if you’re running a legacy app. Google need to think of a way to change that up, mainly so phone manufacturers stop giving their phones buttons separate from the screen. I don’t know why phone manufacturers don’t just put the buttons on the screen, but Google need to give them a reason to break that habit.

Google Nexus Devices

Phones

I am hoping Google will release multiple Nexus phones this year. The Galaxy Nexus by Samsung is an amazing phone. However, there is one thing I don’t like about it, which is the plastic shell. If Google asked other manufacturers to help them out, including HTC, I would be a lot more likely to go with a Nexus device.

Some people say the next Nexus device will have a quad-core processor, and other people say it doesn’t actually need four CPU cores. I don’t know what Google are planning to do this year, but with the chance of Google releasing multiple devices, it is almost certain that there will be both dual-core and quad-core devices.

Tablets

Google already released a tablet this year. Because of that, I don’t think Google will release a bunch of other tablets. I think it’s more likely that Google will release just one tablet for now. Earlier this year, Google released the Nexus 7, a 7-inch tablet which essentially killed the Kindle Fire. This year, I think Google will release the Nexus 10, with a keyboard dock. Asus are making Google’s Nexus tablets and all their 10-inch tablets so far have had keyboard docks. I think it is safe to assume one will come with the Nexus 10.

Other Devices

If you want to buy a computer, your main options are buying a computer with Windows installed on it, or buying a Mac. I don’t know about other users, but for me, Windows just doesn’t work. It takes forever to boot, and then it crashes. I’m sure it’s a lot faster on an SSD, but I shouldn’t have to replace the hard drive with an SSD and buy a new copy of Windows to be able to use a brand new laptop. Some might say you should go with a Mac and while I use one and love it, a lot of people just can’t afford a Mac. That would leave Microsoft Windows as their only option.

If Google joined in with making computers running Android, I think it would catch on quite quickly. Google would start off with an 11-inch ultrabook running Android on a Tegra 3 processor set to quite a high clock speed. The best thing about an Android ultrabook is that I can imagine it would be quite cheap. It would be more like an expensive smartphone, and it would be a lot cheaper than even a base model MacBook Air.

If Google decided to make Android computers, they would mostly be able to simply put their tablet Android interface on a larger screen. However, they would have to make some changes to the user interface, and also some tweaks to the standard computer keyboard layout. They would start with replacing escape, f1 and f2 on the keyboard with back, home and multitasking. Then, they could remove those buttons from the screen itself, and make it easier for apps to go into fullscreen mode for things like video playback.

Google’s keyboard could probably do without having arrow keys like what you get on most keyboards. Instead, touch sensitivity could be added to the space bar, allowing users to slide their finger along it to move the cursor through the document. Otherwise, they could use their mouse to click where they want to carry on typing.

Finishing This Post

I wrote what I could about my wishes and predictions for Google’s next Nexus, but I know there is stuff I missed out. Please post a comment below telling me and future visitors to this post what you would like to see. Comments currently require approval before they are made public, but I don’t get many comments on my website and I am quite quick with reading and approving what I do get.

Posted on Sunday 2nd September 2012 - Leave a comment

MacBook Pro Review

My main computer is a 2009 MacBook Pro, which I received and unboxed on December 23rd 2009. Right now, it might be a little late to do a review on my MacBook, a computer that is now nearly three years old. However, I want to give new Mac users a basic idea of what OS X is like, and how a Mac can last quite a long time for most users.

My MacBook Pro came with a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM which has now been upgraded to 8 GB, and a 250 GB Hard Drive which has been upgraded to a 512 GB SSD. In other words, my Mac was a step up from the base model of the MacBook Pro. I got the step up model because a friend knew someone who worked for Apple and could get a good discount in it.

MacBook Pro

My MacBook Pro has the same design as the MacBook Pro’s you can buy today. This design is over three years old, yet it still looks good. The outer shell of the MacBook Pro is made from aluminium. That means there is almost no flex, if any. Because of the aluminium unibody, the computer also feels like a high quality machine.

My MacBook Pro originally shipped with OS X Snow Leopard, but it has had two operating system upgrades and is now running OS X Mountain Lion. One of the main reasons I bother upgrading my Mac to the next OS is because it is cheaper. The OS X Lion upgrade was around £20 and the OS X Mountain Lion upgrade was £14. In comparison, most Windows upgrades cost over £100. I hear that upgrading to Windows 8 will be cheaper, but I also hear it will still cost more than OS X upgrades.

OS X is a great desktop operating system. It has great window management, with Mission Control as a way to see all your open windows grouped by applications, all your fullscreen apps and if you want, your dashboard. Another feature I love in OS X is the App Store, which like the iPhone, allows you to use iTunes credit to purchase software instead of sharing your credit or debit card details.

Besides great features, OS X is also a lot more stable than Microsoft Windows. Saying that, most operating systems I have tried are more stable than Windows, including Ubuntu. However, most people don’t know about Ubuntu and while I think Ubuntu 12.04 is mostly ready for the average user, it doesn’t have Mission Control and the developers of Ubuntu only control the software, which means that some of the drivers for internal hardware might not work correctly.

OS X is a great operating system and if you want to find out more about it, you will have to go into an Apple store or check the Apple website. However, like all operating systems, there are some things I don’t like about OS X. Firstly, it has more applications you have to pay for than other operating systems. This is not Apple’s fault, but at the same time, Apple could provide the iWork applications out of the box, as the days of paying for office software have mostly ended due to Google Drive.

Another problem I have with OS X is how Apple add their software to their iOS devices, but completely ignore Android. Android is an iOS competitor, but Windows is also a competitor with OS X, yet Apple still make iTunes for Windows. I would like to see iTunes for Android which would allow me to purchase iTunes music and sync my phone with iTunes, and an iCloud app which would allow me to use more of iCloud than just the email part of it.

While OS X has it’s problems, it has had Boot Camp since Apple switched to Intel processors in their Macs. That means if I wanted to go back to Windows for a bit, and I didn’t mind buying it, I could have a dual boot setup. However, I think the problems with OS X are less of a pain to deal with than the problems with Microsoft Windows.

Posted on Tuesday 7th August 2012 - Leave a comment

OS X Mountain Lion Review

 

I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to OS X Mountain Lion and I am going to go through the upgrade procedure and some of the new features, including some small changes that I actually like.

Before I start on OS X Mountain Lion, I want to make it clear that Apple released Safari 6 to OS X Lion. Certain features have been left out, but if you are planning to upgrade to Mountain Lion just to get full width tabs in Safari, and to be able to Google stuff from the URL bar, check Apple Software Update first.

Upgrading my Mac to OS X Mountain Lion went fairly smoothly. I was not able to download the upgrade straight away because Apple’s servers were too busy earlier on. This is not surprising as many Mac users have been wanting to get their hands on Mountain Lion for months.

The download of OS X Mountain Lion was quite large. It is approximately a 4GB download, which is almost double the size of an ISO image of the Windows 8 Release Preview. The download size of an Ubuntu ISO image is approximately 700MB, less than 1/5 of the OS X download. Large file sizes aside, I did not have much trouble upgrading my Mac to OS X Mountain Lion.

The image above is a screenshot of my desktop. As you can see, I have changed the wallpaper from the default wallpaper to a picture of the Milky Way Galaxy. I don’t remember seeing this wallpaper in OS X Lion, and there are a lot of other wallpapers that were just added in OS X Mountain Lion.

Apple made some very small changes to OS X. One change I like is the dock, with a new background. It is more minimal, but it still has the cool 3D look and the slight reflection of the desktop. Another small change in Mountain Lion is with the scroll bars. When you hover over them, they get wider, making it more obvious that you can scroll the old fashioned way if you wish. There are other small changes, including rubber band scrolling in grid stacks on the dock.

Apple have also renamed a couple of the applications in OS X. Address Book is now called Contacts and iCal is now called Calendar. Those changes are very small and I’m sure they could be made in any version of OS X in a user account with administrator privileges. However, it makes me wonder when System Preferences will become Settings and when iTunes is split into Music, Videos and Books.

As for bigger changes, Apple have added social network integration to several applications in OS X, with the ability to share website links on Twitter for now. Apple say Facebook will be added in a future software update. However, I do not see why it couldn’t be included now, as a lot of my friends don’t use Twitter. I would also like Google+ integration to be added in the future.

OS X Mountain Lion comes with a few improvements to iCloud, which is one of the main reasons I upgraded. In iWork, I am now able to save presentations, documents and spreadsheets to iCloud. This means that when I go to school, I can take a lot of my notes on my iPad. I will probably be able to leave my MacBook at home more, and I will be able to annoy everyone else in class with the clicky sound you get in the iOS keyboard.

Apple added a few iOS applications to OS X. OS X now has Reminders, Notes and Game Center. I do not know if I will be using Reminders and Notes on my Mac, but they are now there if I do decide to use them. As for Game Center, I am not much of a gamer and I never used Game Center on my iPod Touch or my iPad. However, there are people who use Game Center on their iOS devices and they will start using it on their Macs.

With the release of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple also released Safari 6. It has a few features that you can only get on OS X Mountain Lion, such as share sheets, iCloud tabs and a pinch gesture that allows you to preview all your open tabs. Pretty much everyone I know has switched to Google Chrome, but Apple are still trying to compete in their own way. Safari doesn’t have a screen for web apps like what is found in Google Chrome, but perhaps Apple will give OS 10.9 iOS-like web-app support, allowing users to add websites to the dock and launchpad as applications.

One of the biggest new features in OS X Mountain Lion is Notification Center. I am able to see notifications for supported apps with a quick swipe on the trackpad. As of writing this post, the applications on my Mac that support notification center include Calendar, FaceTime, Game Center, Google Chrome, MagicPrefs, Mail, Messages, Reminders, Safari and Twitter. I have figured out how to show the birthdays of my Facebook friends in the notification center by syncing calendars between Facebook and my Gmail account.

The upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion costs around $20 in the USA and around £14 in the UK. Apple will let you upgrade from the latest version of OS X Snow Leopard, 10.6.8, or from any version of OS X Lion. More information about upgrading can be found here, including whether or not your Mac can be upgraded. You can install the upgrade with an Internet connection and the first season of South Park. The download from the App Store will take a while, so make sure you have a good DVD or something to kill a bit of time.

Posted on Thursday 26th July 2012 - Leave a comment

Custom ROMs on Smartphones

I recently decided to start hacking my smartphone. I am not talking about the illegal type of hacking that everyone knows about, where someone steals people’s bank details and all their money. I am talking about simply making changes to my smartphone that will allow me to install different operating systems, or ROMs as they are generally referred to as on smartphones.

Installing, or flashing a custom ROM basically means installing an unofficial version of Andriod, such as MIUI or CyanogenMod. The good thing about flashing a custom ROM to my phone is that I can get features on my phone that are not included in the official ROM on my phone.

Flashing custom ROMs on a smartphone will generally void the warranty. This means that if you are unsure about taking risks that could potentially brick your phone if you make a mistake, it is probably not a good idea to take those risks. However, if you have a bit of experience, or if you are experimenting with an old phone you don’t care about, go ahead! You probably won’t screw up your phone anyway.

I use the MIUI ROM on my Desire S. MIUI is developed in China, in Chinese and English. It is then translated to many other languages by developers around the world. MIUI looks very different from any other Android ROM and in my opinion, it is the best looking ROM available. This ROM is very user friendly and when you start to get bored of the look and feel, you can install a fresh new theme quite easily.

If you want practically unlimited customisability with some great features added, and if do not care too much about looks, CyanogenMod is an excellent ROM to try out. It is not as pretty looking or as user friendly as MIUI, but the look and feel of it is a bit more like stock Android. This is a good thing because it will probably look right with a third party launcher that you might install. It is hard to explain it, but MIUI simply just isn’t made for third party launchers.

You may like the idea of installing a custom ROM on your Android phone. However, the steps involved in preparing your Android for custom ROMs are too complicated to fit in this blog post. It involves unlocking the ROM storage in your phone and in many cases, rooting your stock ROM to install a new recovery partition. Those steps also vary depending on which phone you use.

If you want to find out more about hacking your phone, check out the XDA Forums. This link will open as a new page in your Internet browser. When you go to that website, simply type the phone you use in the search bar and there will be loads of threads about that phone, nearly always including how to root it and install custom ROMs. If there are too many posts, just use Google.

Posted on Friday 6th July 2012 - Leave a comment

Leaving London

I live in London and I have lived there all my life. However, I have never loved where I live. In fact, I hate London so much that I want to get out of the place as soon as possible. The decision that I want to leave London took a lot of thinking, as leaving London would mean leaving my school, all my friends and everyone and everything I know.

There are a few reasons I am leaving London. First of all, there are the reasons I hate it. I hate London because it is overpopulated. There are simply just too many people. I also hate London because strangers just don’t work with each other. Everyone on a public bus or on the Tube is pissed off for no obvious reason. Everyone hates each other, and teenagers are particularly treated badly. In fact, because there is so much of that, I could write forever about how people in London have been a bastard to me. However, I’m quite sure nobody wants to read the moaning of some teenager in London, and this blog post is already bad enough.

Anyway, to give you an idea of how crowded London is, please take a break from reading and watch this video, which I also embedded into my first blog post. Just be aware that the first time I watched it, I was genuinely scared and do not have any future plans of travelling to Japan.

The final reason that I am leaving London for my benefit is because of education. A few days ago, I finished going to an International school. This school uses the IB and while it is a great educational system, it does not suit me. The problem with the IB is that I would have to learn a load of stuff that would not help me in the future. I would have to learn either History or Geography, and I would also have to learn a foreign language. I tried learning a language at this school before and I failed. The idea of knowing Spanish for next time I go to Spain sounds nice, but it just isn’t going to happen.

I don’t know if you enjoyed reading this post, but I enjoyed writing it and I wanted to get it out there. Sorry if you were offended by the slightly strong language, but this is the Internet and my website is one of the cleaner websites out there.

Posted on Sunday 24th June 2012 - 4 comments