Monday, 12 November 2012

Scared Little People

I'm not really "in" the You Tube world... sure I have posted a few videos of my daughter and my life (including a silly film clip of one of my bands songs!)

However, I do dabble and I like to follow a few creative Vloggers as you have seen from the last post one of them is Charlieissocoollike. Charlie's "I'm Scared" video has sparked something across You Tube. Many other Vloggers are coming out in support of Charlie and posting about how scared they are and how they worry about what people will think or write about their video.

Charlie's good friend Michael Aranda posted this reply to him a couple of days ago and I think it is really good advice. We, as humans, always feel worried about what people think about them. We all do, we just deal with them in different ways.

It feels me with great pride as a human to see so many people respond to Charlie in support and to tell the world, they too are scared.

I'm really Scared
Everybody is scared
Re: I'm Scared
For Charlie
For Charlie - the beard'ed one Alwayswheezy
Oh just look at the WHOLE DAMN PAGE of responses... Now that kind of response is scary...

From one person, in a big City (London) reached out with one short video and got so much support and love from all over the world... I think that really answers his fears and speaks of a whole new possibility... maybe we should fear the scared little people?

I'll leave you with a great "b-side" from The Cure... Scared As You

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Open Letter to Charlie McDonnell

Charlie McDonnell from Charlieissocoollike posted this earlier today... go on watch it, I'll wait...

This is my letter to Charlie


You don't know me, for starters I live in Australia on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD from you and for follow-up I'm twice your age and for these reasons, and probably more, we are not acquainted in any way. However, I watch you on You Tube (not in the stalker way although I don't post comments). I watch you because you make wonder little videos that often get inside my head for days.

There is also another reason I watch you. You are doing what I know I would have wanted to do if things like You Tube existed when I was your age (and younger). I understand your need for acceptance and people to "like" you. I have done many things in my life to "be that guy" to have people like me and want me to be around them.

I have played in bands, been on stage, worked on film and videos to be someone and to be something, yet I have now realized that I need to do these for me first and everyone else second. I've gotten older, yes, but I have also become more comfortable with me and doing things for me.

For years I would be the fall guy for anything that needed to be done. "Oh you need someone to act/play/direct/stand in/hold that/do that...? Sure I will do it!" I was always ready to be there and do what needed to be done, no matter what that did to me and those around me. I found I was often burning candles at both ends, working 60 hours a week, doing university and acting in a play because I felt I needed to be needed... That has changed.

I'm not saying that those things don't matter to me, I still love and want to be on stage, in the limelight and play music, act, direct and be involved in things. I want to do it because I want to do it. Not because I'm doing what someone else expects me to do and certainly not to make people like me. I love getting the praise and adulation (hey I'm an extrovert and I love the attention) it's just that now I will do it because I want to.

There comes a point in life when you can spend the time to sit and think things through for a bit, it's then that you realise that it's not what you do that makes people like you it's who you are. Holding yourself up for criticism from the masses is not helping to create you, it's breaking you apart.

Charlie, some of your best video's are when you are you and you are being you... that's what brings people back that's what makes you a better person. Sure you can always do better, and that is a great place to be at, mediocrity is breed from complacency, innovation comes from striving forward. However, there is nothing wrong with doing the best you can TODAY even if tomorrow could be better.

When we recorded our EP it captured our music for that day, that instant, that moment. Sure about six months later, after playing a few gigs and not being in the stressful setting of a studio costing us money, our songs got better. We were tighter as a band, the songs become part of us as a unit and not individuals we kicked arse! Do I still listen to the CD? HELL YEAH and I love it! It is and will forever be THAT moment in time, that was the best we could have been, THEN. I accept that.

What it all comes down to is you being happy and confident with yourself. The You Tube masses are not the important people here, I'm not (remember I don't know you), your friends, family, girl-friend... are the ones that really count and the most important person in your life is... YOU. Love yourself, believe in yourself and BE yourself.

Ask yourself why did you really start on You Tube? Was it really to get people to like you? Or was it to get you to like you?


The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien - Review

So for the penultimate in my Eclecetic Reader Challenge 2012 and for my Classic Book I and reviewing The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

I have chosen to use the image of the copy I read, the 1978 Guild Publishing edition bound in faux (or real??) leather. I think this is also the first and only book I have read for this challenge using a physical book... although I must admit to reading the last few chapters on the Kindle as I really wanted to finish it in a lunch break.

Before I start my review I will also admit that I did start to read Jane Austin's Northanger Abbey as my Classic... and I really did try, I used the annotations and studied up about her and her writing style. It just bored me to death... I will finish it someday but today is not that day... sorry.

So instead I went for a book that technically I have read before, years ago as a teen - I think I am OK to use this as a re-read as that was more than half my life ago and many thousands of books ago. I will also admit that I really had no idea what was going to happen next while reading it - aside from Bilbo did get back to the Shire, I was very much along for the ride.

The Hobbit is one of those classic books that people talk about alot. But how many have read it recently and has it really held up all these years later?

First up, it really is a great piece of fantasy writing. It has all the right bits, a young inexperienced adventurer going out to see the wild world, a wizard, dwarves and elves, bear-men, spiders, wolfs, goblins and Gollum. A magic ring is found as we travel over high mountains, into caves and tunnels and through dark deep forests, to find the fabled treasure and (the very necessary) dragon.

There are many books that tell a similar story, and I have read quite a few of them, but none tell it so innocently as Tolkien. I am reminded that this was written in 1937, there were no games of Dungeons & Dragons being played by high schoolers on Mum's kitchen tables, no movies featuring swords and sorcery and certainly no Geroge R.R. Martin. It is written with nothing to prove and everything to give.

The Hobbit is not driven by the typical fight scenes of modern fantasy, in fact (although necessary) the fights are really not that important, at least in the blow by blow sense of other books. It truly is about the adventure of one small Hobbit and the very real difference he made.

If I had to recommend a first fantasy book to someone I often say The Magician by Raymond E Feist (very much a Classic in it's own right) but I think that may change, depending on the audience, as The Hobbit with it's easy style and no nonsense "real" hero is probably a better choice.

Simple, brilliant and a real classic. 4.5/5

Sunday, 4 November 2012

eBook is better than The Book

I was asked to be part of an eBook panel at the local Library. You can see more about it here or an article here. I have previously spoken about the Digital Future in an Open Government Forum and tend to be out spoken about the Digital Economy and the future use of technology especially in Local Government.  Libraries being an integral part of Local Government I was more than happy to provide some insight into a topic I love.

The ePanel had guest presentations from two local authors Ralph Grayden and Allison Tait.  Ralph's book Page Three is only available in eBook and Allison, an accomplished journalist, is currently finishing off her first novel which will be available as an eBook.

Library staff also presented on the new technology available, eBooks can be borrowed as well as many different eReaders or other devices. As well as how the library connects with the community through Social Media and out-reach via the Mobile Library.

I was asked to be part of a debate, an us against them (being the audience) on which is better, The Book (NOT the Bible) or eBook. I was on the affirmative and a copy of my opening statement is below for your pleasure. Enjoy. Comments welcome.

eBooks is better than The Book

In 2000 Stephen King experimented with the publication of his short story Riding the Bullet online since then eBooks have become just as popular (and in more ways more popular) than The Books.

In August 2012 Amazon UK stated they are selling more eBooks than hardback or paperback books in Britain. The Kindle was only released in the UK 2 years ago, it took the US 4 years to reached that point in 2011. 

Lets go back a bit and have a history lesson... the Printing Press was invented by the Catholic Church in 1440 by 1500 it was throughout Europe.  So if we say printing and printed books (The Books) have been around for 500+ years.  It only took eBooks 2 years to replace them as the most popular method for buying books through Amazon UK. 

So eBooks are more popular than Real Books...

eBooks are available all the time at any time.  How many times have you been waiting for a new release to come into the shop or come back to the Library?  Or what about that hard to find copy of a back issue book by your favourite author? 

All it takes is a quick search, click of a button and instantly the book appears in your eReader, Tablet or computer (most at a reduced cost to boot!)

So eBooks are easier to obtain and cheaper!

What about people with vision impairment how can eBooks be better for those people?  With most eReaders or eBook software you can adjust the size of the text with a few simple buttons suddenly the same version of the book can be adjusted to meet the needs of many readers.  There are even eReaders and eBooks that can convert the text of a book into spoken word... again from the same version of the book...

So eBooks are more accessible.

Dont get me wrong, I dont only own eBooks in fact many of my eBooks I also own as The Books... Why do you ask?... well let me explain.

I read and collect comic books, Marvel to be precise, I store them in acid free plastic bags in a box stored on a shelf in my study, with a selected few ready to be placed in frames to hang on my study wall as art work (rare covers, signed etc).  I also have my collection with me on my iPad.  Whats more its this digital collection that I read to protect my investment.  I dont buy them twice (my wife wont let me) instead Marvel (in their wisdom) provide a free eComic version with the purchase of the physical comic.  So for the same cost I get a physical copy to keep and a digital copy to take with me and read...

This is also the case of several of my novels and fiction collection, often the author will release a version of a popular book in eBook format, either free or at a low cost, so I can keep my physical copy on my shelf and take the digital version with me - anywhere.

So eBooks protect rare and special books.

I also have digital versions of my favourite books the books you come back to year in year out.  I can take them away with me on trips or to work for a rare lunch break.  I can read them on the train, plane or (when not diving) automobile.  I currently have 50+ books on my Kindle ones Im reading, going to read or just want to have in case I need to read them (again in most cases).

 I am also a habitual multi-book reader often having 3 or more on the go at once.  Book marks fall out little fingers (I have a two year old) often steal them to play with and you lose your place.  Not so with eBooks my Kindle remembers where I am up to its a simple measure of just opening the book and there you are at the place you last read it.

So eBooks are more convenient.

I am reading Northanger Abbey at the moment a version with all sorts of additional information about Jane Austins writing and the time period etc.  The book is full of annotations and extra/additional information.  With The Book I would need to flip back and forward find the annotation and then the page I was on.  With the eBook I select the annotation; it takes me straight the note and then another button puts me back to where I was.  No fuss.

My Kindle also has a built in dictionary, if I dont know the meaning of a word I can go to it, and immediately the definition appears, I can select more information or a greater explanation if needed as well.

You can even highlight sections, write notes with my Kindle and leave the text of the book safe and free from markings.

So eBooks offer much more.

I have to admit something... my dirty little secret... I love to read trashing Science Fiction novels branded ones like Star Trek and Babylon 5... I know I look like such a worldy and high brow person and sitting with my Kindle on a train you assume Im going to be reading Umberto Eco but in reality I am reading the equivalent of a Mills and Boon for geeks!  But no one else knows that cause with an eBook you cant see what I am reading...

So eBooks offer privacy...

Are eBooks better than The Book... the facts dont lie they are more Popular, easier to Obtain, Accessible, Convenient and offer protection, more features and privacy. The Book may not be dead, but eBook sure puts the pressure on.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Chick Days - Raising Chickens, Jenna Woginrich - Review

Another in my 2012 season or reviews for the Eclectic Readers Challenge, Non-Fiction...

For my non-fiction book I had a range to choose from, I have read books about the Digital Economy, Sustainability, Tourism Trends, business, marketing... but they were all work related and not really for fun... But we recently came into some Chickens... Well Chicks, two week old Bantam's one white Chinese Silky the other a cross breed Silky and all thanks to my daughters pre-school.

The School had a little project running, they hired an egg hatcher-device and cage - got about a dozen eggs which hatched over 1 week. They kept the chicks for 2 more weeks as an educational tool for the kids. Boy, did the kids love it! They got to watch the eggs hatch, then help the chicks to learn to eat and move and learn about animals caring for them. Wonderful really.

We had talked about getting chickens for sometime. The back neighbour has been building a chicken coop and we wanted a smaller one for out little yard, bantams was the answer for us and the school batch had two! It was as if fate wanted us to have them! So indeed at the end of the project the chicks could either be bought by parents or they would go back to the company and be sold as pullets... we bough the two bantams.

Now I had chickens as a child myself (well my family did) and I did study Agriculture at High School - even ran an experiment on egg production and protein levels of food so I knew a bit about chickens before reading Chick Days, but even this old dog learnt a thing or two from the book.

The layout of Chick Days is very simple, easy to read and most of all, FUN!. Woginrich is so obviously in love with her girls and that affection bleeds out from the pages of the book not only in the fabulous photography by Mars Vilaubi but in the text and layout. This book takes you from the inception of the idea of getting chickens, through the first week days of raising chicks to pullets and layers and goes in depth to which breed is best for your needs.

I'm so glad we have our little 4 week old chicks, who are chirping away in the room next door (still too young to be outside yet - another 3 weeks to go) and I'm sure I would have been fine to get them started and up to laying without reading Chick Days, but I think my world and my chickens are better for it.

Great tool and read.