Tuesday, 4 September 2012

LoveFilm: Initial Thoughts

Hi everyone!

Just a quick blog tonight as I'm finally getting round to looking out my things for going back to uni, I know I'm going to get to my new flat and realise I've left half of the things I need at home but fingers crossed it won't be as bad as last year. 

I have finally decided to get LoveFilm, I was struggling to choose between LoveFilm and Netflix but I actually managed to get one year’s free subscription to LoveFilm and so I activated it at the weekend. My first thoughts about the film selection were that while there was a decent enough choice, it really could be a lot better.
Not quite as amazing as I thought it would be.

If you are using the rent by post option then the selection is fantastic, pretty much any film you could think of is there but if you are like me and only really using the watch now option then it's not nearly as good. For example you can watch The Dark Knight but you can't watch Batman Begins, you can watch the first Pirates of the Caribbean but not the other three. There are also a lot of high demand movies missing, there are no Disney cartoons available, no Harry Potter films, no Indiana Jones, no Star Wars and no Lord of the Rings. I feel a lot of really popular movies are missing too such as Pulp Fiction, Bridget Jones, Love Actually, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and many others (these are just the ones I have got round to looking for so far).
Even the first Harry Potter movie isn't available for streaming.
Another downside to LoveFilm is that you can't stream on the iPad and connect it to the TV even if you have an Apple cable so if you don't have an Internet enabled TV, PS3 or Xbox then you will have to settle with watching your movies on the iPad screen which although it's not a huge problem it would have been a nice feature if you could choose to watch them on the TV.

Personally I haven't seen the Netflix selection so I don't know how it compares but I do know they have a TV show section which LoveFilm does not so that's a big plus already for Netflix. Overall had I been paying for LoveFilm I would have been pretty disappointed since a lot of my favourite movies aren't available, so unfortunately it seems that I won’t be able to use LoveFilm as a substitute for my DVD collection just yet.
Does Netflix or LoveFilm win the battle for the best Internet movie rentals?
So how about you guys? What has your experience with LoveFilm been like? Do you think Netflix is the better option? How does it compare to LoveFilm? What is the Netflix UK selection like compared to Netflix US?
Over the next week I may not be able to blog as often as I have been recently as I am moving into my new flat, seeing my friends in Edinburgh, going out for a couple of the calmer freshers events and starting back at uni but bear with me, my blogs will become as frequent again once I have got back into my usual routine.

If you are away to start back at uni/school/college too then good luck I hope you do well! 

Until next time TTFN x

Sunday, 2 September 2012

How I Attempt To Stay On Top Of Things At University

It's that time of year again when most of us will be heading back to university or college and some of you may be going for the first time. I am heading into my second year now and I have decided to share with you my preferred method of taking down lecture notes. 

Lots of schools have different notepad:technology ratios and while most American students (from what I've seen on TV/in the movies) use laptops to take notes in the lecture hall, most British students, from my experience, use the old fashioned paper and pencil method. 
The generic American university lecture you see in the movies (also a scene from one of my favourite films, Legally Blonde).
Personally I hate the jotter method, I always have. You seem end up with about six different notepads with pages ripped out, unfinished notes, scribbles, juice stains and if you live in rainy Scotland and walk home from school you often find that your notes have been used by your bag as a sponge and are completely soaked.

While at school I was only allowed to use paper to take notes but since I am such a neat freak when it comes to note taking I ended up re-writing all of my notes (for up to eight subjects) in bigger notepads so they were all in order, written neatly and easily understandable. Although this seemed to work for me as I got the grades I needed, it was very time consuming and frustrating, so as soon as I was at uni I started to use technology to take notes instead. 

Taking my laptop to university was hard work; to get to my campus I have a 15 minute walk to the bus stop, a 20 minute journey on the public busses and then a further walk up a pretty steep hill to finally arrive at the campus. My laptop isn't the heaviest on the market but it also isn't a MacBook Air so I struggled to carry it along with my books, bag and lunch box. Therefore I decided to use my iPad instead.
It's love...
I have to admit I felt a bit weird using it at first as I thought others would think I was using it to show off but for me it really is the best way to take notes, I have even started to use my iPad to write most of my blog posts before transferring them to my laptop to publish them. It also means you can watch movies, check the news news headlines and even have a sneaky wee read of Fifty Shades of Grey during breaks (haha).
So here are my top apps and a step-by-step guide as to how I use my iPad to take lecture notes:

Taking the notes:

For this I use the bog standard Notes app that comes preloaded on your devices. I find that this is the fastest and most stable app that allows you to take down pages of notes rather than just a couple of words. It is very reliable and easy to use which is exactly what you need when trying to type at high-speed. 

Apples standard note taking app.
After writing the notes I will either print the pages out or I will send the notes to my laptop.

The Print Method

This function only works with select printers.

I have recently bought a new printer an Epson SX235 (£35) which has the ability to print directly from an iPad over wifi using the Epson iPrint app (free on the app store). This allows you to print emails, pictures, notes and other documents without having to email them to yourself and print them out through your computer. It is great if you like to have a paper copy of your notes as well as a digital copy on your iPad. This printer also has a scanner built in so you are able to scan in pages from text books, jotters or any worksheets you are given out in lectures and make up your own ring binder of notes.
This app allows iPad users to print to their Epson printers.
The Sync Method

My preferred option is to use a file sharing app and send my notes I have taken in the lecture to my laptop via wifi. To do this I take the notes I have typed in my notes app and paste them into an app called CloudOn (free on the app store). CloudOn has the ability to create Word, Power Point and Excel documents and stores them in your Dropbox account (also free on the app store and the internet for the computer app) on your devices and computer.

This app allows you to create some document types found in Microsoft Office.
This method may seem a little more complicated but it means that your notes are stored in multiple places and you can properly file them on your laptop. The only thing to watch out for is the amount of space you have remaining in your Dropbox account as if you exceed the limits you will be charged as you have to purchase extra space.
This app allows you to share your files over several devices.
I hope you have found this blog helpful, as I say these are only my opinions but I have found that these are the methods that work best for me.
Let me know if you have found any apps that are good for taking lecture notes so I can check them out too.

Until next time TTFN x

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Paralympics, Paranormal and Pizza (Again!)

Well our day trip to Broughty Ferry went as well as could be expected and of course it rained. So on with the waterproof jackets and wellies it was and we set off to find somewhere to have lunch. We decided on Italian and went to a small restaurant for some pizza, I have to say it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had and they had an amazing selection of ice cream too from Dragon Fruit and Maracuja to Irn Bru.

After our amazing lunch we went for a stroll around the shops hoping to work off our pizzas so we could go back for some ice cream. The shops in Broughty Ferry are really nice with lots of different things to choose from, we even managed to buy a birthday present for one of our friends a whole week in advance, usually we leave it to the last minute so I was pretty impressed with myself for being so organised! Unfortunately we were still full from lunch so we didn’t manage to go back for ice cream but I’m sure we will go back another day to make up for it!
I hope you are all looking forward to the Paralympics, I’ve been watching the opening ceremony while I have been writing this post. Some of the stories behind the athletes are incredible; they vary from soldiers injured in battle to survivors of the London 7/7 bombings and more. Seeing how they have managed to overcome their disabilities and become world class athletes is truly inspiring, I don’t know about you guys but I don’t know how they do it, they really are ‘super humans’.
Good luck Paralympics GB!
Another thing I’m looking forward to is the new series of Doctor Who which starts on Saturday! I have to admit I am a huge fan and I get far too involved in it, when Rose was left behind on the parallel world I cried for days, I still haven’t managed to watch that episode again, it has to be one of the most emotional scenes ever broadcast on television! I wonder if this year I’ll finally be able to watch Doctor Who without hiding behind a pillow, however I know if the Weeping Angels are in this season again I’ll still be switching the lights on and off before I go to bed and blinking numerous times to make sure there aren’t any of them hiding in my closet…
Still my favourite Dr Who team.
Well that’s all for now, I’m off to start looking things out for moving back to Edinburgh which I really can’t be bothered doing as I despise packing!

Until next time TTFN x

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Pizza Night

Hello everyone!

I hope all of you in Scotland are enjoying the lovely sunny weather we are having this afternoon (for once) its looking like it will be a nice night too!
The lovely sunset we had tonight

I have finally managed to get my train tickets to London booked for the NFL game but standard class was fully booked! So first class it is, I can't believe that even two months in advanced the train is sold out, I feel sorry for anyone who's travelling down that day who's not a football supporter, I think its going to be mayhem! Still I'm really looking forward to it, I've bought my Patriots shirt and we have booked everything that we need to so now it's just waiting for the day to arrive.

Not much has happened today I've spent the day watching A Place In The Sun and other daytime tv programs, this time they were house hunting in one of my favourite places, Orlando. It's crazy how much more you can get for your money there compared to Scotland. £100,000 was getting you a five bedroom villa with pool in Orlando, here you'd struggle to get a one bedroom flat for that price!

I'll get back one day...

Tonight I'm off to a friends house for pizza and a movie, funnily enough the pizza we are ordering is the Bridget Jones Feast and the movie we are watching is Bridget Jones. It's safe to say this is going to be a very girly night! 

Tomorrow's looking like its going to be another girly day, possibly with more pizza, but I'll try to be healthier and just have a margarita rather than a BBQ chicken and pineapple... My friend and I are going to Broughty Ferry for a walk along the beach and some lunch before we go back to uni so hopefully the weather will be nice although it is Scotland so you never really know.

Well I better head off to my friends now so until next time TTFN x

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Cupcakes and Kay

Hello chums!

How are you all doing? I have finally finished my long summer of waitressing and I’m taking a well-deserved couple of weeks to myself before heading back to uni. Overall this summer has been good, I went to London and Paris, I earned some extra money, I started (and restarted my blog) and I met a lot of new people, some I preferred more than others…

The Notre Dame.
Being a waitress has really taught me a lot. I’ve learned to stand up for myself, I’ve become more confident approaching new people (perhaps too confident haha), and I have learned to hold my tongue and mumble quietly to myself “sure you can have another latte since this one is three degrees too cold for you” but really it’s been fun and some customers were a great laugh, I definitely will take a lot of memories from that place.

Since today was my first day of my mini holiday I spent the day making cupcakes, drinking Starbucks tea (it costs a fortune but is sooo much better than Tetley) and watching Beauty and the Beast and some Peter Kay. Since the resort I worked at hosted a lot of weddings I had a wee giggle to myself hearing Peter Kay talk about weddings, they really are all the same. The kids running around pretending to be aeroplanes, the dads drunk dancing, the women doing the notorious ‘walking to the dance floor dance’ and of course the mad dash when the buffet is opened!
Peter Kay on weddings (some strong language)

I have to say though I am really looking forward to getting back to Edinburgh, seeing my flatmates again and doing the job (well training) I love rather than worrying about whether I gave table 11 starter cutlery or whether I had taken bread rolls to table 20. I think the summer also reassured me that I’m definitely in the right profession. Many tragic events occurred while I was in work and it felt horrible to know so little about what was going on as I had to wait on tables when really I just wanted to be watching the news so I could know what was happening.

The worst case was with the Aurora shootings. I felt helpless and lost as I didn’t know what had happened. Being a journalist means you really get involved with the stories and try to find out as much as possible about the incident and all I could manage to get was a quick ten-second glance at the six o’clock news. Being so out of touch with the rest of the world made me feel uneasy, I desperately wanted to know who, what, where, when and most importantly why this had happened and I almost felt that was being ignorant of this tragedy, something terrible was happening right then and I didn’t (couldn’t) know what. I suppose it’s a sign I’m passionate about what I do.
But on a lighter note I’m now sitting eating a homemade (and very yummy cupcake) and watching some late 90’s-early 00’s pop-rock music videos. Listening to the Bloodhound Gang-Bad Touch and realising that I used to sing this song when I was only six is quite disturbing, thank god I didn’t understand the lyrics then, I must have really embarrassed my parents singing that in public!

An afternoon well spent.
Well I seem to have exhausted Youtubes selection of pop-rock videos so I guess that means it’s time to go to bed, however I fear I’m going to have Blink-182, Fountains of Wayne, Wheatus, Sum 41, Smash Mouth and Good Charlotte stuck in my head for some time.
Until next time TTFN x

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Brave From A Scots Perspective

As you have probably all guessed I am from Scotland and I’m proud of it (as if the blog title and tartan banner didn’t hint at that enough for you). Growing up in the Scottish countryside I felt I had a ‘normal’ upbringing until I went to university and met people from the cities and other parts of the world. Needless to say there have been a few occasions where I have been met with blank stares when I have mentioned things that are perfectly normal for country folk to do that are seen as strange by others e.g. spending our summers working on the berry fields to earn some extra pocket money…

While some people may have been embarrassed to be different I have embraced it, it has made me appreciate what I have a lot more. Growing up on the east coast allowed me to go rock climbing at low tide with my friends and play with the whelks and crabs in rock pools and I had taken this for granted until recently.
After finding this renewed love for Scotland I was really excited to find out that Pixar were bringing out a movie based on Scotland! I of course jumped at the chance to go and see it.

I had some reservations about whether Pixar would put enough research into the Scottish way of life or whether they would create an “American Scotland” as seen in The Little Vampire movie, since when have Scottish primary school kids sat at individual desks, carried their books to school and not worn school uniform (I know some of the island schools don’t have a uniform but 99% of Scottish schools do) grrr…

However, Pixar did an excellent job!
They included Highland Dancing (one of my passions) and managed to put in the correct steps with the proper hand placements, they put in footage of the Highland Games with cabers, bagpipes and kilts galore and they definitely got the lingo! Not to mention they also made sure that the men were ‘true Scots’ when it came to the choice of underwear whilst wearing kilts!

I was also really impressed with the soundtrack, the music was extremely Scottish which was something I wasn’t expecting.  Pixar definitely put a lot of thought into this movie and even hired Patrick Doyle, a Scottish musician, to compose the soundtrack.

One thing I was a little disappointed in was Pixars choice to use a bear as one of the main characters. I can’t speak for the rest of the world but when I picture a Scottish animal I think a stag or maybe at a push the mysterious black panther sightings we get from time to time but never a bear. Don’t get me wrong there were bears in Scotland at the time that Brave is set (roughly 1,000 years ago) but after putting so much research into every other aspect of the film I feel that a bear was a strange choice of animal to represent Scotland. A deer would have made a much better choice for the film as the bear felt a little too similar to Disneys film Brother Bear where a man is transformed into a bear and has to learn to love an orphaned bear cub to become human again.

I have to admit I was very sceptical about going to see Brave due to the disappointment I had from watching The Little Vampire but judging from the laughs from the packed cinema audience I am not the only one to congratulate Pixar on their ability to keep the Scottish traditions factually correct.
The beach where I spent a lot of my childhood.
One of the highlights of the film for me personally was Disneys brave choice (pun intended) to use some Scots slang throughout the movie. Hearing phrases such as ‘help ma boab’ ‘manky’ ‘gammy’ ‘breeks’ ‘ken whit a mean’ ‘och aye’ and ‘jiggery pokery’ really went down  well with the audience. As stereotypical as the language was I have to admit that I have used a lot of these phrases on a daily basis and didn’t even realise that ‘gammy’ was a Scots word!
While I don’t think Brave will be one of Pixars most memorable films for the majority of people twenty years down the line, it really brings a breath of fresh air to the tired princess stories and will certainly be the favourite movie of many Scottish children (and adults) for years to come.

Until next time TTFN x

Monday, 20 August 2012

I'm Back!

Hey everyone I’m back!

I have decided to start blogging again, I feel that the first time round I took on too much too fast and left myself fretting over my blog a lot more than I had originally planned. Since a lot of the TV shows I wanted to review were broadcast in America months before Scotland (we are still working our way through season one of New Girl and Two Broke Girls here), I was having to rely on other recaps of the shows to get an idea of what happened and I felt that I was writing reviews that were not up to the standards I would have liked because of this.

Therefore I have decided to start blogging again but really to take this as an opportunity to document day-to-day happenings and put my spin on things rather than to make a blog that is specifically about reviews. Don’t get me wrong there will still be plenty of reviews but I’m going to put in a few more diary entries as well. I am away to head into my second year at university and I feel that this is a good chance to start my blog again as I am away to finish my summer job and get back to journalism (thank God).
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have looked at my blog, I really can’t believe how many of you have seen it. I know some bloggers get hundreds of thousands of views but I am amazed that even one person managed to find my blog so THANK YOU! I mean 350 views! That’s incredible, I can’t believe that people from the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Canada, The UAE, Bahrain, Georgia, Japan and the Bahamas have all seen my blog! I am so sorry for neglecting it for so long but I promise this time around I will make sure to try harder and succeed at my blog!
Let’s hope that in the next few weeks I find lots of inspiring things to blog about, I already have a good few ideas so fingers crossed!

Until then please enjoy this photo of me wearing a panda hat…


Until next time, TTFN x