I’m Voting Labour on 22nd May. Here’s Why, in Brief

Don’t jump to any conclusions. I’m ideologically more matched with the Liberal Democrats, and I dislike Ed Miliband. But right now, Labour are the only party that make any sense to me. The only party that has the influence to make changes I actually like. So here’s why I’m choosing a party I one despised, in no order of importance.

Because it’s not the General Election. Ed Miliband continues to appear pathetic, and distanced. He would make a bad Prime Minister. But we’re not voting him into office, we’re voting for his ideals in Europe. So who cares who the leader is?

To withdraw UKIP’s influence. Labour currently, by a small margin, lead the opinion polls in the run up to this election. They are UKIPs biggest competition, so are the best party to vote for.

They want to say in Europe. Avoiding the specific details, UKIP’s claim that the EU does more damage than good is preposterous, when British industry and even small businesses rely on the EU, and would collapse if we left. 78% of all firms favour staying in the EU. Britain is no longer a superpower, and the only way it’s going to have a real global influence is in a union.

They care about welfare. There’s no talk of privatising the NHS under Labour. Labour also care about energy prices, possibly to the extent that the Greens do, but are a big enough party to actually make a difference.

They worry about cross border crime, but welcome immigrants who will help our country prosper culturally and economically. They want migrants to integrate in our society, and want to reform the economy so that it is not so reliant on low skill migrant labour.

It proves that the country wants change. If Labour win this election, it will be clear that the country wants the Conservatives out. It will be clear we need proper change. Maybe Clegg will resign and give the Liberal Democrats a real chance, at least at a Labour coalition, in 2015.

Labour have plenty wrong with them. But with UKIP so dangerous, and most people tired of the Tories and Lib Dems, it’s time to vote different.


Goodbye Community

Community is a recent discovery of mine. A niche, outlandish and crazy sitcom that has quickly vaulted to my top 3 favourite sitcoms of all time. It’s got to the point in which I obsess about it daily, in the same way I once did Breaking Bad. On May 9th, it was cancelled, without getting a proper finale, or the ‘Six Seasons and a Movie’ that fans have been garnering for for years.

It got five seasons, or four, if we discount the mediocrity that was it’s year without creator Dan Harmon. By American standards, this is short lived, but for such a non-conformist show we must still be proud and satisfied of how long Community lasted. At first look, outsiders may say that we should be thanking NBC for keeping it alive for this long. But the fans now realise how little NBC knows about comedy.

NBC’s sitcom lineup has been struggling for some years now, with Parks and Recreation slowly falling in quality and viewership, where Community also struggled. With Community’s insane fan base, and Parks and Recreation’s incredible cast, NBC must be doing something wrong if episodes rarely break 3 million viewers.

Why they renewed Community after the critically panned fourth season, but cancelled it after the acclaimed fifth, is unknown. They had millions of devoted, obsessive fans like me. Fans that would have rejoiced and praised the network for being ambitious, if it gave the show just 13 more episodes. Instead, Sony are left fumbling to find a new buyer, perhaps Netflix, maybe Hulu, or even FX.

NBC had a critical darling on their hands but were blind to this. If another network picks up the show for another season, they will get overwhelming publicity and be loved by many. It’s an obvious business decision, but the logistics seem to be holding it back.

For now, Goodbye Community. From ‘Modern Warfare’ to ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’, from Troy and Abed to Jeff and Annie, we love you.


“Windows 8 is a Disaster in Every Sense of the Word”


The reason this happened is that while Sinofsky had the maniacal power and force of will of a Steve Jobs, he lacked Jobs’ best gift: An innate understanding of good design. Windows 8 is not well-designed. It’s a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.

This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone’s opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.

While some Windows backers took a wait-and-see approach and openly criticized me for being honest about this, I had found out from internal sources immediately that the product was doomed from the get-go, feared and ignored by customers, partners and other groups in Microsoft alike. Windows 8 was such a disaster that Steven Sinofsky was ejected from the company and his team of lieutenants was removed from Windows in a cyclone of change that triggered a reorganization of the entire company.

As brutal as this piece by Paul Thurrott is, it is also incredibly smart, and daring, and therefore is absolutely worth a read. I questioned Windows 8 from the get-go, as it was just too big a departure from convention to please the masses. It was pretty, but so unproductive it is crazy. Microsoft need to put focus in pleasing their customers instead of trying to innovate in a place that still is not ready for change. From the direction Microsoft are moving in, I envision that in a few years we will be saying that the current Windows is what Windows 8 always should have been. And by that time Apple and Google would have come so far Windows will be left as tired as it always had been. Shame.

Threes! is More Addictive Than Flappy Bird, and 3x More Fun

Today marked the launch of Threes! a beautifully designed puzzle game from a relatively unknown developer. It is one of the smartest, and most well polished iOS games on the store, and I expect it to climb the charts very quickly in the coming days, even though it is a rare breed of paid apps that doesn’t offer in-app purchases.

The aim is to slide numbered tiles into each other, to combine them and create as many high numbers as possible. The catch: only matching numbers, divisible by 3, can be combined. This means you must slide 3 and 3 to make 6, then two 6s to make 12 up until 6144s 1 You can also add 1s and 2s, which add a whole other level to the gameplay. The game is over when the board is full and there are no more tiles you can match.

It may sound confusing at first, but in truth, Threes! is very easy to get started with, but very hard to stop playing. It could be the insanely cute sound effects, the soundtrack that is perfect in so many ways, or the actual game mechanic itself, but this is one of the most addictive games I’ve played in some time, and one of the best.

So download this game while it’s 33.3333% off, and say goodbye to productivity, and goodbye to Flappy Bird.

Show 1 footnote

  1. But that is fiendishly difficult, as according to game centre, the highest tile anyone has had on their board is 768, and only 4 people are yet to do that.

Steve Wozniak Finally Loses His Mind

Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was once one of the most interesting critics of the company, but as of late, his suggestions have gone too far. He recently stated that Apple should make Android phones:

“We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time.”

Not only does he refer to Apple as ‘we’, even though he is no longer active at the company, but his idea is one he puts forward to annoy the masses more than anything else. He is being controversial for the sake of being controversial, harsh for the sake of being harsh – he as no idea what’s best for the company anymore.

That, and in every Apple keynote, he never smiles, sitting with a disapproving expression pointed towards a product the rest of the crowd are at least gracefully clapping it.

I’d quite like it if he showed some respect to Apple, and tell us what they are doing wrong, rather than what they should be doing, as that really is not his job.

Samsung May Finally Tone Down TouchWiz

Re/code, After Google Pressure, Samsung Will Dial Back Android Tweaks, Homegrown Apps:

This is especially significant because the Google apps bind tightly together. Google has apps for pretty much all the most important functions on a phone or tablet — email, messaging, maps, storage, browsing, reading the news, finding and consuming media — and they are interlocked so that tasks flow naturally from one app to the next.

Users generally welcome that kind of consistency across software — just ask an iPhone user — and Google sees this as an opportunity to improve the quality of the Android community that has been plagued by fragmentation. However, it’s an awful lot of Google. It means Android is becoming more like an uber-Google experience than an underlying operating system topped with a selection of apps.

I would be very happy to see this. I voice my disdain for TouchWiz far too often, and as Google’s own apps get better, I don’t see any advantage to redesigning, or rewriting apps, especially skeuomorphically like Samsung have done. Recent leaks of new versions of Samsung’s Android UI have shown improvements, but they still take away the essence of Google, which is wrong. An uber-Google experience” would be far from a bad thing. Samsung have the capacity to innovate in hardware, so it’d be nice to see them focus on improving that, after all, I’d rather see revolutions in design, than unnecessary ones in software.

Samsung need to restrain their software teams. By all means, they should add useful features and make suitable tweaks all around, to make it their own, but they don’t need every app to be homegrown.

I’m Scared to Buy a Pebble Steel

The Verge, when reviewing the redesigned Pebble smartwatch:

That’s the risk for Pebble and every other would-be king of the suddenly hot wearable market — that platform owners like Apple and Google and Microsoft will be able to build true extensions of their operating systems instead of connecting your wrist to your pocket with baling wire and Bluetooth. It’s a danger that might still be years away, but it’s a danger Pebble needs to face head-on: the next goal for Pebble is to go take the Pebble Steel from the best smartwatch you can buy right now to the best smartwatch, period. That’s a tall order, but if the next jump is as big as the jump from the Pebble to the Pebble Steel, the company might just be moving fast enough.

They raise an interesting point. While the Pebble is an excellent watch; the new metallic design is smart and sleek, and would draw far less attention than the bulky, plastic previous generation; it is also in danger of being swallowed by bigger companies with bigger ambitions, bigger budgets, and better people. If I was to buy a Pebble Steel now, I’d love it, but when Apple release their much rumoured iWatch, I’ll realise that I was far too early to the game. I don’t want to buy something because it’s the best right now, I want to buy something because it is the best.

The Pebble Steel is fantastic, but probably isn’t the future.

Using Wood in Phone Design

The Verge report on Motorola’s thought process when introducing a ‘wood’ material on the Moto X:

“It’s a different way of thinking about products,” Ken Tomita tells me. He’s the co-founder of Grove, one of the very first iPhone case-makers, and a self-proclaimed “guy who knows way too much about wood.” Our gadgets are precious objects, he says, and we obsess about protecting them. “But materials like wood, and leather, that’s what they’re there for: to get beat up a little bit.” He sees it as a perfect, and welcome, contrast. “These tech products … are made out of aluminum, stainless steel, glass — it’s all these cold surfaces. We throw in the warmth, the natural material.”

For me, while I understand the ethos behind it, wood still seems tacky. Even leather does. The weathered look is unappealing to me, and just looks like the phone has been abused, and is dirty. If a phone is going to have wood as part of it’s exterior, I’d like the whole phone to be made of wood, not just one panel that is encased in plastic.

Technology is not natural, so why make it look like it is?

Happy Birthday, Mac.

I’m new to the Mac world. 2009 was the year I first owned a Mac, an iMac, the same one I use today. I’d upgraded from a Vista laptop, so arguably, I would have praised any new computer, but it became clear quite quickly that I would never own a PC again. I’ll always be saving money to make sure that my next laptop is aluminium and has an outrageous display.

It’s not just because they’re shiny. It’s not even because they ‘just work’, which they do, better than any other computer out there. It’s because Apple’s ethos, from 1984 to now, has always been solid and admirable. They want to make the best computers they can. Computer’s they would be proud to own. They want to change lives as much as they want to change industries. I just don’t see that passion from any other company.

So I don’t mind giving them a lot of money because I know they care. They were the first to act upon the potential of a desktop computer with windows and a mouse. And they did it well.

Here’s to another 30 years.

On Writing Again… Again

Writing about writing is something we all do, and all hate doing, because we all do it. But as I haven’t written here for a few months, there is no better way to start again.

Recently I’ve been shockingly lazy, neglecting the career that I will eventually take: writing. There were times in which I had no excuse and there are times in which I did. I will not digress and describe the things that took priority, and the reasons why being cynical here, reporting news at Neowin and writing tech editorials at Urban Times haven’t been at the forefront of my mind. Instead I’ll tell you how that’s changing.

Starting at the beginning of next month, when I have, to some extent, a break of the chores of A-Level mock exams, I plan to write here every day. I plan to comment on the articles I read and the videos I discover on Reddit in a Gruber like fashion. Lots of small posts, lots of links, not much time. It’s arguably the most fun part of owning a blog.

I will pick up my news reporting at Neowin once again, hitting my quota and trolling the Microsoft fanboys with Apple related news. I joke. I only did that once.

I love Urban Times, the third publication in which my time has been dedicated. Their mission statement, their web developer who has the skill of a Google employee, and their dedicated core team. I hope to begin writing more frequently there, possibly, and only possibly, taking up my weekly tech column after an embarrassingly long hiatus.

I look forward to seeing you in my site stats.