Monday, 20 July 2009

Viðrar vel til loftárása

Just a small post to say that I'm off to France for 3 weeks! I probably won't bother blogging about whatever it is I'm doing but if you really are the sort of person who has an interest in what I'm doing. Then follow me on Twitter. I go by the username of: Steveturner93.

That's all really. Don't read too much into the photo/title. Just Tom Hanks and a phrase I learnt in Icelandic. "Perfect weather for an airstrime".

How amusing.

Bon été!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Something for the weekend

Well the weather this week has reflected the state of our government. Bloody awful. But do not fret readers! I may have found something which will make your weekend make up for all this rain and loud thunderous...thunder.

And it does not come in the form of several poorly written paragraphs by yours truly. It comes in the form of an album from a band that you probably won't have heard of. But as the music of the current day is so awful that it's causing me to turn to blues from the 70's and sit moodily in the middle of town nodding along and looking like someone who belongs in a lunatic asylum. It's these bands/artists that are shining at the moment.

As I just said, I'm currently into blues and as I didn't say, I also dig the folk scene. But you can't live on folk. That would be like living off of vanilla ice cream. You keep looking at the chocolate and strawberry sitting next to it, but you don't want to go there becuase it looks a bit unsafe and too red/brown for your liking. So you need balance, maybe a little bit of synth or emo.

Unfortunately emo/screamo/loudnoisescomingfrompubescentteenagerswithlongblackhair is awful and anyone who says different deserves to get their heads kicked in by the reanimated corpse of Marlon Brando. So that leaves you with synth. Or techno, electronic, get the point. But because we are currently under siege from bands like the Kooks and MGMT plagueing the indie and electronic scene, I like to sit comfortably in synth.

So what do you get when you throw some folk/blues into a puddle of synths? You get Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. A solo project from a chap in America. Imagine Fleet Foxes meets Deadmau5 and you're not far off. This chap uses casios from the 90's and synth boards from the 80's. This dude is old skool. He's gutsy as well. He thought he'd team up with Concern and slam some beats onto Born in the USA and Streets of Philadelphia. I'm still not sure on Born in the USA but my god, that man has done wonders to Streets of Philadelphia. Weirdly, I prefer it from the original. Sorry Bruce.

Everything else is pretty golden. White Corolla is my favorite track. With lyrics that a tripped out LSD junkie would be confused by. Bouncy melody and inventive use of the voicebox. Perhaps it's too short at 1 minute 57 seconds. But when you've got creepy indie artists releasing 20 second songs where they strum a guitar twice and then tell you that their shoes are covered in sand (thanks for that Interpol), you look at that and don't care. If CTftPA can do in 1:57 what Jamiroquai can't do in 5, then you won't complain there either.

I think they're on iTunes, and pretty sure that you amish folk can go to HMV and still buy it as well. Or if you don't want to pay this man the amount he deserves for this great music, then you can probably download it. Though please don't.

Have a good weekend.


Monday, 13 July 2009

Internet access in schools

A few months back, my father attempted to buy tickets for a festival from his computer at work. But becuase of the filtering system, he was unable to access the website as there was something to do with credit cards on it. Whats funny is that becuase of this, my mother (a teacher at my local school) had to buy the tickets instead. Now, would you expect a school to really allow people to buy things on their IP? Well no they don't. But they do have proxy servers.

Every kid in my school knows the proxy. Hell, I bet the new year 7's know. But whatever, the point I'm trying to make is that the filters became useless as I and my fellow pupils were quickly able to access whatever the hell we wanted. The fact I had my laptop in school meant that I was able to browse NME or download something off of PirateBay while I coloured in a map of Venezuela in Geography (I joke of course, Geography is not just colouring in. It's an enjoyable subject which has had me pointing out annoying facts about destructive waves whenever I go down to Hengistbury Head. Cheers Mrs. B)

So if everyone knows how to access everything, why is there a need for a proxy? Because I'm sure most of the teachers get annoyed when they have to type their code in every morning. I know I got bored of switching between Opera (yes, don't laugh) and Mozilla (once again) then going home to use IE. Still, I think there is a need for a filtering system in school.

ECDL and Computer design lessons would be disrupted by students playing games or doing whatever else year 8s do these days. Then there is the unavoidable thing in that no-one wants to see a kid looking at pornography in a lesson or at a breaktime. It would make school like a second home, but with several hundred more people and some older people wearing suits and yelling at you.

But there are drawbacks to filters.

I had to do some technology coursework recently. I decided to cop out and do the food technology course, in which we had to design a product to a specification and create a factfile. While doing this, I wanted to get a picture of some pancetta bacon. Apparently the SWGFL are under the assumption that an image of pancetta bacon could; "contain crude language and indecent imagery". Oh ok, a little bit counter-productive perhaps but I won't complain, I'll just use normal bacon. Oh wait, that's filtered too.

Once again, while doing Geography coursework, I was trying to find an image of a random house in Sandbanks. But apparently that contains indecent imagery and crude language as well. I know how a filter works, if it has any swearing on any page then it's filtered. Which is fair becuase you shouldn't subject small children to seeing such awful words. But if I want a picture of a packet of bacon then I'm not planning to click on every link, go to every page and scour the internetz itself in a quest to find a curse word.

Well I pose the question, do you think (some) filters should be lifted? Obviously not to the crazy excess where games and pornographic images are unfiltered, but where things like newspapers and blogs (mine for example) are filtered because a few words are thrown around.

Cheers for reading.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Music in schools.

Ask any of my teachers to read my handwriting and I assure you that they will fall to pieces in front of you. This is becuase I have the handwriting of an arthritic 80 year old man (probably). And because of that - I get to bring my infamously slow laptop into school. Well I did when I was in school anyway. I also used a word processor in most of my exams.

It was a very good idea. I would do the work, then go home and print my work off, then put it in a folder. At first I did this and all was well. But as time progressed, I began to do the work then not bother printing it. Then I found a great loophole in the 'school rules'. By being quite sneaky, I was able to listen to music in about 50% of my lessons. I would listen to what I had to do, then as soon as the task was set, I would be fishing a cable up my arm and sneaking my inconspicuous ear bad over and in to my ear.

And then I started doing more work in those lessons. As long as I was listening to music, I was focused and I was working. But the second the headphones were gone, I was zoned out and couldn't be bothered to do anything. Seriously. I think that if I hadn't listened to music in my tech lessons, I would have sat in the exam like a vegetable, pondering over what a potato was.

I did have to be careful though. In French, History, English and Law I didn't even bother trying. My French teacher was dead against it, my History teacher was always talking and if you weren't careful he would easily catch you out and make you look like a prize fool. For even having your earphones out in English you would be hung, drawn and quartered by the stalinist English teachers. And I could have in Law, but I actually needed to listen seeing as I am absolutely terrible at it.

But in Tech, Geography, Science and the rest I was able to sit quite casually and listen to my music. I even became so relaxed in Tech that I brought my massive Sennheiser DJ headphones in one week and she didn't care.

So I pose the question. Should music be allowed in school? I say yes. But I reckon that every teacher out there is saying; "No way! Disadbantaged kids might get jealous of expensive iPods and things might get lost or stolen." Well to give a blunt response: Bullsh*t. I and many other pupils have carried MP3's, phones and whatever around school now for 5 years and never has there been the threat of things being stolen. Why? Because EVERYONE has a phone or MP3. Even the poorest kid can buy a phone for £10 and an MP3 for a fiver.

Music has been proven to inmprove focus. Folk music calms you, metal gives you a rush (as does D&B), pop gives you a feel-good factor and R&B provides poetic lyrics. I spent the majority of last year listening to folk and acoustic music and I think my work was better in that year than the year before.

I can see problems though. Everyone has a different taste of music. I live for folk and acoustic. I know lots of people who would rather eat a lamppost than listen to folk. A friend of mine thinks Radiohead are a dreary, depressing group of wrist-slitters. But I think they're the best thing that happened to the 90's (well, apart from Blur, Oasis and The Verve...oh and Stone Roses). This could cause tensions I suppose. But who cares? No two people like the same music (apart from those stupid 13 year olds who write "I like a bit of everything" on their Facebooks. No you don't like everything. You're probably the sort of person that thinks James Morrison qualifies as acoustic. Stupid person!) and that is something that you have to live with.

If/when I become a teacher. I will actively encourage kids to bring music in. And to those who don't like music? Well you're odd and can sit in the corner.

Viva la Musica!