Part of an ongoing, never-ceasing, seemingly endless switch from desktop to mobile (Chapter 36)

I’m writing this post in the Ulysses writing app which, I just learned, can connect to WordPress and publish posts directly without having to interface with the awful WordPress app.

This is potentially the final stage in the “using the iPad for pretty much everything you need to do”, for which I have written a post previously and intend to write an update on very soon.

And just to fully test, here’s a recent picture from the beach.

On the record 2018, Part 5: A little bit warbly in places

With the exception of James Bay, my choices in this collection of albums are all about fab females doing their thing. Kylie’s new adventure, Jorja’s debut and Lily Allen’s return. I’ve got mixed feelings about most of them, but it was still a fun journey devouring them all.

Meanwhile, Mr C’s selections proved just how eclectic this album adventure business can be – from a Latin goddess, to the King of Pop, including rock and… well, whatever words can be used to describe Madness.

Week 21

  • Electric Light, James Bay
    I really enjoyed the previous album by James Bay so was looking forward to this – it’s a good follow-up, although I don’t think it quite lives up to the great poppy-folky standards of the last. The intro and interludes don’t really seem to add anything to the story, but the songs stand up and it’s an easy-listening endeavour.
  • I’ve Been Expecting You, Robbie Williams
    Ah, great times with Robbie. He’s hit and miss and has a career as varied as you could ask for, but this was early solo Robbie and probably when he was at his best. Some strong hits in here, mixed in with other good songs, there’s no real dip in quality and there’s a variety of tempos and sentiments to enjoy. Top work.

Week 22

  • Love is Dead, CHVRCHES
    I really loved this, which was a surprise as CHVRCHES have only really appeared on my radar recently. But it’s a really strong album, all the songs are solid rock although it’s worth mentioning that they all get quite samey towards the end. Love their work though.
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Gloria Estefan
    Saw Gloria promoting the musical about her life and realised I haven’t listened to any of her stuff, although I know some of the songs, obviously. I quite liked this album, although at this point in my musical journey it felt a little cheesy. She’s got such a good voice and a personality that comes across in every song, so it’s a lot of fun.

Week 23

  • Golden, Kylie
    I was dubious about this one, really, and probably wouldn’t have listened except I really liked Stop Me From Falling. Unfortunately, the rest of the album was kinda what I was expecting. It’s listenable but it suffers from not being one thing or the other – not really proper country and not really pop either. It didn’t quite stack up for me but I admire Kylie for constantly trying new things.
  • A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, Panic! At the Disco
    We suddenly realised that most of the Les Mills tracklists are propped up by Fall Out By and Panic! at the Disco so it was about time I listened to one of them. Opted for the debut album by P at the D, and whilst I enjoyed the songs, I sort of couldn’t get over the titles having absolutely nothing to do with the content within. Good fun rock, but not something I can get on board with!

Week 24

  • Lost & Found, Jorja Smith
    I was really looking forward to this debut release from Jorja, as the huge coverage she’s had on Beats 1 has hyped me up as intended. I was really impressed with the album, it’s very mellow, chilled out and easy to listen to. I thought it went a little bit warbly in places, but for the most part a really great album from Jorja.
  • Bad, Michael Jackson
    Really loved this, obviously, some of the great songs from the great man all packaged up in one neat album. I actually knew a few more of the songs than I thought I did which made it even better. But really, marching along the streets on a sunny lunchtime walk, with Bad blaring in your ears is basically as good as it gets.

Week 25

  • No Shame, Lily Allen
    I’ve only recently realised how much I like Lily’s work so far, and this album is another great addition to her body of work. It’s slightly different to what has gone before, though, and has a much more mellow quality than the rest. It’s also quite depressing, if you listen to it all in one go, very much instilling the loneliness and restlessness that Lily must have been feeling at the time throughout the tracks.
  • One Step Beyond, Madness
    In stark contrast to the low-key Lily Allen I listened to the same week, Madness are just a barrel of fun. A lot of it sounds the same, it all has the same reggae beat underneath and you just go along for the ride – great fun.

Not just anybody

We watched the Westworld edition of Carpool Karaoke yesterday, and thought “Yea, I know there’s a Paul McCartney one out but it can’t be as good as this.” Evan and James had great chemistry, great fun and got up to some fab antics with bonus Westworld memes thrown in there for good measure. So, we turned to the Paul McCartney and James Corden episode and… well, we couldn’t have been more wrong, could we?

(As an aside, how have we managed to get into a situation where there are two editions of the same show made by different people released on the same day to compete against each other?)

You’ll have seen this, by now, I’m sure. Everyone has and everyone is in agreement – this is a fantastic twenty minutes of television.

It was amazing that Paul agreed to do this, and he was a fantastic sport throughout the whole thing. His nostalgia tour of the streets and buildings that influenced the early songwriting days was inspirational and emotional, and the moment where he comforts James and follows it up with a comfortable silence was wonderful.

It’s also incredible that just his mere presence can still draw crowds – the guy is just walking in and out of a house, and there’s a huge crowd waiting to see him, touch him, tell him they love him, just be in his vicinity. And he handles it all with good grace.

Plus, of course, the jukebox gig in the pub is great and showcases what a wide variety of demographic the Beatles music still appeals to. Young and old appreciate the man and this twenty minute episode was a great way of proving it.

Rock, paper, scissors… you know the rest

I’m currently working my way through the various options for learning how to code via Swift Playgrounds, and branched out recently to the standalone session that lets you adapt a version of the well known game Rock Paper Scissors.

The demo first lets you play the game so you can see how it works, then it asks you to personalise the game with a variety of options. I think it wants you to pick the colours that each player uses and perhaps adjust the hue of the background, but I went for a slightly more ambitious personalisation scheme.

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock. Sheldon would be proud.

Florence in the machine

I was all ready to write a glowing post about how much I love the Apple Design Awards that take place during WWDC week, but it turns out I have already done this, two years ago! Back then, I was looking for more from the Apple crew in terms of discoverability of the best apps out there and their update to the app store to include a great Today tab has done just that. Featuring stories, lists, behind the scenes videos and more, it’s a nice way to find new content, or learn more about apps you already use.

So with all that sorted, there’s only one thing left to talk about this year’s Design Awards, and that is Florence.

This is such an incredibly beautiful app, it’s hard to describe it in words. The pictures are so much better.

But to try and sum it up, the app guides you through the story of Florence, who breaks free from her mundane life when embarking on a new relationship, navigates the highs and lows of life with a partner, and eventually finds herself. As the reader/player, your job is simply to interact very briefly with each scene – piecing together jigsaw puzzles or shaking polaroid pictures – to move the narrative along.

I’m not usually too bothered about limited interactivity apps – where it’s not so much a game as a story that you occasionally get to prod at. Even the quite more exciting Back to the Future game series frustrated me by its limitations on occasion.

But this is something else. This is such a simple, lovely, relatable story, told well, with very intuitive actions that help to flow the tale rather than interrupt the story. The clean cello soundtrack adds to the ambience so that you’re invested in Florence and her story. It’s not a groundbreaking story (girl meets boy, mild relationship drama, girl finds happiness), but it’s a groundbreaking experience.

And it’s not by fluke. The behind the scenes story Apple posted told just how much work went into making this app the wonder that it is.

“The story of making Florence was one of discovery. For each moment in the relationship we wanted to portray, we often had to try many different images and interactions before we found the right combination that would evoke the right feeling in the player. These would range from art style tests to storyboards, to fully functional levels that for one reason or another, were cut from the final experience.”

It’s not a long story, really, so you can get through it in one or two sittings depending how long you stop and survey your surroundings, but it’s worth every moment. I’ve played it through once and even though I now know what happens, I can see myself playing it again.

Well, I’ve got to have something to do between now and next year’s Design Awards, haven’t I?

On the record 2018, Part 4: Synth music is right up my street

The year is certainly picking up bit by bit and I’m starting to love more of the albums than I’m not. Having said that, there are still a couple in the list below that I was hugely looking forward to but then found myself disappointed by. That happens, I guess!

In other news, I discovered new-found fondness for Manic Street Preachers and Depeche Mode, two very different bands. Read on for more!

Week 16

  • Resistance is Futile, Manic Street Preachers
    My first pass through this album left me thinking ‘pretty good, sounds just like what you’d expect from the Manics.’ Apparently that hasn’t always been the case for the last few albums, so that’s a start. On the second pass through, it all started growing on me. The first three songs are brilliant, and the rest stacks up pretty well too. Definitely one to re-listen to a few more times yet.
  • Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent
    I was quite excited to listen to this but actually it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Solid hip hop and the singles are good but it didn’t blow me away. A bit too much Eminem, as well.

Week 17

  • 44/876, Sting & Shaggy
    You would never put these two together, would you? What a weird partnership but it totally, totally works. This is such a gentle but good album to listen to. It’s clear and open, honest and simple. From the UK to Jamaica, criss-crossing styles all the way. Nice and relaxing and probably perfect for summer.
  • Misplaced Childhood, Marillion
    I only know the song Kayleigh from this, played as the last song of series two of Car Share, but I can’t say I particularly liked this album. It’s okay as music goes but I really don’t like the way the tracks all blend into each other and nothing particularly stood out for me even after two listens.

Week 18

  • Speak Your Mind, Anne-Marie
    I’ve loved pretty much all of Anne-Marie’s singles, so this album was a long time coming and delivered exactly what you want – more of the same! Fun pop with the occasional serious edge, but lots of catchy choruses that draw you in from the start of the album to the very end.
  • Speak and Spell, Depeche Mode
    Well this was a revelation to me. I loved the album, and the band that I am now calling The ‘Mode, much to Mr C’s disapproval. I’d never realised it before but am suddenly growing to understand that synth music is right up my street and Depeche Mode are one of the key bands in this genre. Good stuff.

Week 19

  • Cool Like You, Blossoms
    Having recently discovered a love of synth it was brilliant to find that Blossoms are basically a modern synth band. I really enjoyed the album, although I’m not sure it’s quite as strong as the first one – I’m going to have to listen to that one again now!
  • All Saints, All Saints
    All Saints was my first ever album purchases, and so I know it quite well. I really like the funky nature of it, the kick-ass attitude of these girls who were trying to be the antithesis to the squeaky clean pop acts out there. It seems a lot safer compared to more recent artists but it still holds a fond place in my heart.

Week 20

  • Voicenotes, Charlie Puth
    I’ve been looking forward to this one and was disappointed when Charlie pushed the album back to make sure it was finished to his own high standards. Eventually got to listen though, and enjoyed it. I’m not sure it’s better than the last album, and the Boyz II Men song, whilst good, brings the mood right down in the middle where it would be better at the end. But otherwise, a good solid set of songs.
  • The Weight of These Wings, Miranda Lambert
    I did not enjoy this. I’ve enjoyed some of Miranda’s other songs, but this one was back to the roots country, with slide guitar and crazy Southern accent and all. Not only that but it’s a double album, so lasts about 90 minutes. It was a bit of a slog to get through it twice, I’ll be honest.

Bumblebee – ‘A mystical bond between man and machine’

In direct contrast to my post this week about struggling to care for the Westworldian robots, now I’m all over-excited at the thought of this Transformer’s spin-off featuring the one and only Bumblebee.

Of course, part of that is because Haiz is in it, but equally, it’s hard not to love that big yellow beast, isn’t it? I wonder why I care more about the machine with headlights for shoulders than the one that looks and feels and is acted by a human being.

I only had a vague interest in Transformers in the first place, and the previous film efforts haven’t done a huge amount to help. Will this be better? Who knows?

Still, the cassette tape bit is fabulous.