Thursday, 31 July 2014

The glass of water

I photographed this glass; one of these images has been enhanced:

The unenhanced picture alone is pretty impressive. Now see it through Snapseed's HDR filter:

It looks amazing! Despite what I said before about not wanting to use enhancements too much, I honestly do love the effects the app generates.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Relative celebration

I, along with my grandparents, spent the evening celebrating the birthday of one of my relatives; said relative reached a particular age milestone, so there was quite a bit of talk about "getting older". We all went to a fancy Italian restaurant for dinner and then went back to my Nottingham aunt and uncle's house for cake. We all had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Second interview success and the awesome bus driver

I'm not sure how much I can say at this point, but the interview went extremely well and I am mostly sure that I will be attending college in Nottingham come this September. There are still some things that I need to sort out but I am working on them and once they're out the way, I'll be at college! I also met someone today who will most likely be one of my classmates.

On a lighter note, I encountered an awesome bus driver today. To start with, he was friendly, which was great by itself because some bus drivers can be either emotionless or needlessly unpleasant. Then, when I had to use a bus again several hours later, it was the same bus and, thus, the same driver; the driver remembered me and uttered an enthusiastic "Hello again!", which enhanced my already-good mood. I've never had a bus driver remember me before!

To go back to the college, sorry to continue to keep everyone hanging but I still think it's too early to celebrate. I should know for certain about my attendance this time next month, but today has definitely been another massive step forward towards my college goal.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The lovely day

I had a pleasant pre-interview day: I went grocery shopping with my grandfather in the morning and my other Nottingham-based relatives came over in the evening. I took this picture of the wonderful blue-and-cloudy sky:

Honestly, it's meant to be of the sky, not of the power pole! The temperature was warm this morning but it cooled over the course of the day.

On with tomorrow!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Liveland History: 27 July 2011

On the 27th of July, 2011, I wrote "2012 Summer Olympics in a year", my one-year countdown post to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London:

Back then, I was unsure about the United Kingdom hosting the Olympics: I didn't think that this country had the facilities and proper motivation to hold them. As such, I expected the 2012 Olympics to be riddled with problems and controversy, and to be ridiculed at home and abroad; when the Olympics finally did arrive, they were a massive success and I was delighted to be proved wrong. I even watched some of those Olympics, as I was staying at my grandparents' house and, as I've written before, my grandmother is a sports fan.

Coincidentally, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which are being held in Glasgow, Scotland, are currently underway and since I'm at my grandparents' house, I've been watching some of them!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Nottingham visit July-August 2014

I am back in Nottingham for another week. My letter for a second interview at the college finally arrived over a week ago and my interview will happen on the 29th. I have everything ready for the interview; until then, I have a couple of days to relax and afterwards, I'll have a few more days of relaxation.

I am neither nervous nor excited; if anything, I am relieved that the interview is taking place at last (I applied back in early May) and I am feeling more optimistic. More to come once the interview has occurred.

Friday, 25 July 2014

"Decode" - Paramore

This is "Decode":

It's by Paramore and is from the international edition of the band's third studio album, Brand New Eyes. It is also from Twilight: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, as the song features on the soundtrack to the first Twilight film. The song and movie were both released in 2008.

I first heard "Decode" on the Open House Party on KIFS (107.5 Kiss FM). I already knew about Paramore from their song "Misery Business" but "Decode" was when I first became aware of Twilight. I didn't think much of Twilight back then but I have since read all of the books and seen all of the films; in fact, I know far more about Twilight than I do about Paramore! As strange as this may sound, I actually enjoyed the series.

I should really listen to some more of Paramore's discography; I like the songs of theirs that I have heard so far and I do want to hear more.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Red roses July 2014

In my last post about roses, I mentioned that it would be a while before I posted any more pictures of them. It's fortunate that more than two months have passed since I wrote that because these three pretty flowers appeared almost overnight in our front yard:

While the flower on the right appears shabby, it looks as pretty as the other two when viewed from its front. Honestly, these three were more like fungi than flowers: one moment, there are no roses; in the next, there are three!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

GIF creator

When my father got his new phone last year, one aspect of the device of which I was particularly envious was its camera, as it was far more advanced in its hardware and software than the camera I had on mine. The software feature that fascinated me the most was its ability create GIFs.

Last night, inspired by the Snapseed app that my uncle recommended, I decided to have a look for a GIF-generating app and after less than a minute spent searching, I found one. I created a couple of GIFs of my brother and mother just to test the app out; they worked! I can now create my own GIFs.

I don't need a GIF-generating app but it's one of those things that's nice to have. An app or camera feature that would be incredibly useful is one that lets you know when you're about to take a slanted picture and can straighten it for you...

On a related note, I've always pronounced GIF with a hard G, like the word grass, rather than with a soft G like the word gym. I was surprised when I heard that there is a significant minority of people who pronounce it as "jif", which has caused a dispute over the pronunciation. Of all the things to argue about!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The spider in the tub

I thought I'd take some pictures of the spider that currently lives in the bathtub:'s large and scary! Now for some perspective...

Here is the spider next to a disconnected shower head. As you can see, the spider isn't that big once the camera is no longer zoomed onto it. I used my main camera because I didn't want to annoy the spider by putting my phone close to it and because my camera takes higher quality zoomed shots.

As you can also see, the bathtub is dusty from disuse. I think it'll need to be cleaned once the spider has moved on or been evicted.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sheep run

My family and I visited Rutland Water a few days ago. This was a sight to behold:

It's a group of sheep running back to their field after spending some time by the water. This paved path here crosses the dam segment of Rutland Water; the sheep climb over the dam's rocks to reach the water. The trails the sheep have made on the rocks reminded me of deer trails in Southern Oregon.

A few minutes after I took this picture, another group of four sheep crossed the dam, except this time they were going from the field to the water. The one who went up onto the rocks first had to wait for several minutes before her three followers joined her.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

"Boom Clap" - Charli XCX

This song, which has been out in the United States since mid-June, was released in the United Kingdom today:

It's "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX and it's the first single from The Fault in Our Stars (Music from the Motion Picture), the soundtrack for the film The Fault in Our Stars. Charli XCX is more known for her features on the singles of other artists, in particular Icona Pop's "I Love It" and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy", rather than for her own work; I think it's great that she's now receiving solo recognition.

I first covered Charli XCX in October 2013 when I wrote about her song "SuperLove". Unfortunately, that song got voted off the radio station I listen to, which is another reason why I'm glad for her recent success.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Moth vs. Spider

There is a spider that lives in the bathtub; last night, that spider was disturbed by a large moth that had flown into the bathroom. For some bizarre reason, the moth thought it would be a great idea to fly around and land on the spider's home in the tub, which annoyed the spider and caused it to attack the moth.

It was an interesting fight: until last night, I had never observed a spider engage in combat with another creature. The spider appeared to be defending itself rather than trying to eat the moth; in the end, I assume that the moth flew away from the spider and out of the bathroom, as there was no evidence of the moth in the morning.

As for why there is a spider living in the bathtub, we prefer to shower and there is no shower in the tub. The spider is not at risk of being washed away.

Friday, 18 July 2014

High heat and humidity

Yesterday's hot weather was cooled by a nighttime arrival of a thunderstorm, which lasted throughout the night and into today's morning. The cool morning was a refreshing change from a few days of hot weather; however, it wasn't to last.

By midday, the thunderstorm had vamoosed and the heat had re-emerged; worse yet, the thunderstorm left behind its humidity. As a result, today was not only incredibly hot, but humid, too. On the bright side, it has just started to rain again, which is cooling the temperature and means that we won't have an uncomfortable night. I just hope that we won't have a second day of heat and humidity tomorrow!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Photo enhancement clarification

In yesterday's post, I included a picture that had been enhanced with an HDR filter; as a result, the image looked fantastic. However, I want to state right now that up until that point, none of the pictures I had posted had been retouched, save for cropping or the occasional blurring out of a plate on a vehicle.

While I now have the ability to enhance pictures and post them, I will only do so rarely; I prefer to post untouched photographs taken with my phone and main camera. I think I would be cheating if I constantly posted heavily modified images rather than made the effort to take decent pictures. Imagine if this blog contained recordings of me singing, but I Auto-Tuned myself: it wouldn't be right. Better to make it impressive in the first place.

So that's my position on enhanced images. They look amazing, but I prefer natural pictures; touched images will be rare here. My phone and camera don't produce HDR photographs and I should not give the illusion that they do.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Nottingham day visit July 2014 (2)

Here are some pictures from yesterday when my parents, my Hong Kong uncle and I walked around the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre:

This is the main rowing area, taken from a pier at the south-western end of the water. There were a few rowers present.

This goose posed for us; she was still standing there when we walked away. She's similar to the goose who I use as my blog profile's avatar!

This is the whitewater kayaking slalom course/training area. There was only one person on the course when we were walking through this zone.

 This is where the River Trent flows into the watersports facility.

This is the previous image again, except this time through an HDR filter. I used an app called Snapseed, which my uncle recommended, to obtain this effect. I like it, but what do you think?

We all enjoyed yesterday. We'll see my Hong Kong uncle again at Christmastime.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Nottingham day visit July 2014

We went to Nottingham today to visit my grandparents and to see my Hong Kong uncle. My uncle is over here for a few weeks before he returns to Hong Kong.

We went for a lengthy walk in the afternoon; I took a few pictures, some of which I'll post tomorrow. I might even post an experimental picture or two, assuming I think they fit in the post.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Sweex Vici MP4 Player Black 4GB follow-up

Since my post about my Sweex Vici MP4 Player, I used it as a media player for the first time. The music playback sounds fine, which I expected because the quality of my earbuds is high. The two problems I've discovered have been its battery life and its left arrow button.

The battery life has been oddly short; I was surprised when the device reported that it had dropped from 50% charge to 25% after fourteen minutes of playback. To be fair, it wasn't fully-charged, and so I will try it again with a full battery. An hour of playback isn't terrible, mind you, considering that it is a cheap product.

The bigger problem is with its left arrow button: it does not seem to work; as such, I cannot turn down the volume, which is one of its tasks. This is problematic when a loud song comes on: I don't want to damage my hearing by blasting music into my ears. I need to be able to turn the volume down like I do when I listen via my headphones to music on my phone.

Even with these two problems, I am keeping the my Sweex Vici MP4 player. I can get around the issue with the left arrow button by keeping only quieter songs on the device.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Other town carnival (2)

Here are the pictures from yesterday's carnival. To be honest, I didn't stay that long; it was a small event and it was nothing I haven't seen before. I took some pictures and then walked back home.

On the way to the carnival, I noticed these houses under construction. They're in the same area as the path in the picture I posted yesterday.

This is the carnival; it was held in a churchyard rather than a recreation ground. As I said above, it was just a smaller version of something that I've seen before. I didn't think it was worth hanging around once I'd taken a few pictures. The church is on the right.

The building over to the left is the chuch again and the mansion on the right is a hospital. I am unsure as to whether or not the hospital is a part of the church grounds and if it is still a functional medical facility.

The churchyard contained an abundance of recently-cut grass, which gave the vicinity a tidy appearance and a fresh smell. Quite pleasant!

At the end of the day, my walk to the other town and back was over six miles in length; therefore, attending the carnival, even if only for a few minutes, wasn't a waste.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Other town carnival

This afternoon, my brother and I walked to a neighbouring town (the same one that held the fair) to attend a carnival. I have not yet sorted out all the pictures I took, so for now, I'll leave you with a picture of a path that we walked on to reach said carnival:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sweex Vici MP4 Player Black 4GB

A few weeks ago, Dad re-discovered this device in a drawer:

It's a Sweex Vici MP4 Player, the Black 4GB version. As its name implies, it is primarily a media player, but it contains a diverse selection of other features: it has a small camera (the pictures and videos are somewhat blurred but otherwise adequate), a microphone, an FM radio, a calculator, a stopwatch and even an e-book mode. One might say that it can do all the basic tasks that a smartphone can do, minus the ability to make calls and texts, and doesn't have any connection to the Internet.

I looked on Amazon to see if it was still available for purchase; the model is but it's in purple rather than black. The Sweex Vici MP4 Player was released in mid-2010, just before the smartphone era really started to take over; it's no wonder that this device is now obsolete. Regardless, it's still a cool little gadget; I haven't yet used it for music but I will do.

As for how this Sweex Vici MP4 Player came into my possession, my grandfather sent it to me three years ago after he won it in a competition. In that competition, he also won a high-quality laptop, but he kept that!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The long-lasting batteries follow-up

Back in April of 2013, I switched the batteries in my camera from regular AAs to rechargeable AAs. To begin with these batteries were great: instead of having to open a new packet of AAs every few months, all I had to do was recharge them. While the rechargeable batteries have slightly shorter lifespans, their ability to be recharged makes up for this.

Well, it used to, anyway. In recent months, the charge in the batteries has been reducing with every recharge; worse yet, the batteries have been depleting even when my camera has been off. On more than one occasion have I turned my camera on only to have it tell me that its batteries need replacing. I've ended up missing some interesting pictures as a result.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do at this point; at this rate, I'll be switching back to standard AA batteries, which will be unfortunate but at least they last for a few months rather than a few days.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

"The Love I Lost" - West End featuring Sybil

The song is occasionally played on Heart radio, most often during the Club Classics segment:

It's "The Love I Lost"; it is a song by Sybil, a dance musician who was popular in the 1980s and 1990s; however, it is credited as West End featuring Sybil. It comes from Sybil's fifth studio album, Good 'N' Ready, and is a cover of the 1973 song "The Love I Lost" by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

Sybil's most recent studio album is Still a Thrill, which she released in 1997. While she hasn't released any new albums since then, she has released several singles. "Troubled Waters", which Sybil released in 2011, appears to be her most recent single.

"The Love I Lost" might be a cover of something from the 1970s, but it's still a cool nineties song.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Window screens (2)

I've complained about this before, but summers here in the United Kingdom would really be much more comfortable if we had screens in the windows. Having to evict flies and spiders is annoying, as is having moths land on your arms; having one's window near a large bush filled with wasps and bees isn't any better, either.

I know this is minor compared to other problems in the world, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't open windows in summer because of spiders and insects coming into the house. I'm also sure that a few heat-related deaths in summer caused by closed windows could be prevented if windows had screens.

The main reason that most houses here don't have screens is because the windows are pushed out when they are open, whereas American windows slide upwards. Unfortunately, new houses continue to be built with push-out windows and most people here probably won't be convinced to switch to a type that slides.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Bringing the rain back home

The weather was fairly moderate in my town today. Throughout most of the day, the Sun swerved in and out of the clouds, and there were some minor sprinklings of rain. A couple of times, both for short spells, the sky was completely covered with clouds but the rain was light and the region was otherwise dry.

When Dad came back home from work, he said the town where he works experienced heavy rains for much of the day. About ten minutes after he told us this, a massive downpour fell upon our town. We had had hints of rain all day, but nothing indicated that a heavy rainstorm would be unleashed. We were taken completely off-guard!

Of course, it wasn't Dad who caused the mass rainfall, but it was funny that it materialised almost directly after he mentioned the rain in his work town.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

No more dog mess

One of the local primary schools has begun a canine crap clearing campaign:

There are about fifteen of these anti-dog mess posters hanging up and down the road that passes the school, each one created by a different student. All contain a drawing and a slogan along the lines of "clean up dog mess" or "no to dog poo" written on them.

I think they're both creative and environmentally aware! These posters gave the chance for the children to use their imaginations - and for a noble cause: if children can be encouraged to help clean up smaller messes like this, perhaps it'll also teach them to help address environmental problems when they're older.

There is a lot of dog mess in this town. To be fair, most dog owners do clear up after their canines, but the minority that don't are numerous enough to cause the dog mess to be perpetually visible.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Liveland History: 5 July 2011

On the 5th of July, 2011, I wrote the post "Fireworks (again)":

In it, I posted a short video that I had filmed on one of family's last days of living in Littleport, Cambridgeshire. The video featured sound effects of some fireworks that had occurred the night before on the 4th of July. We attributed the Independence Day firework celebrations to the presence of United States military bases and personnel in the area; even so, we did not expect to see or hear any fireworks that evening and we were pleasantly by them.

The post is also significant because it was the first time that my friend and fellow blogger Jessica commented here. This was after I commented on this post of hers. I first encountered Jessica when I clicked on her Blogger profile from another blog, titled Green Eyed Opinons; she also once guest posted on Green Eyed Opinons. Unfortunately, that blog no longer exists.

Friday, 4 July 2014

July 4th, 2014

Happy United States Independence Day, everyone! I hope you've all been having a pleasant day. My father has been away on business this week and only just returned home this afternoon; it's been great having him home again.

Our evening meal had somewhat of an American theme to it: we ate homemade burgers for dinner, and for our dessert we had strawberries, cream and blueberries. It was a red, white and blue-colored dessert!

Happy birthday, America! 238 years old and counting!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

XH588, the Vulcan bomber

We had a piece of British military history fly over our neighbourhood yesterday afternoon:

It's Avro Vulcan XH558, The Spirit Of Great Britain, which is the sole remaining airworthy Vulcan bomber. The Vulcans were a delta wing strategic type of bomber and once comprised the backbone of the United Kingdom's airborne nuclear deterrent; they were in service from 1956 until 1984.

XH588 was once owned and operated by the Royal Air Force but Vulcan to the Sky Trust, a charity, now bears that responsibility. The charity relies on public donations to maintain XH588; if the charity does not secure enough funds, the aircraft will not receive the required maintenance to keep up with airworthiness standards.

XH588's purpose has evolved from being a nuclear weapon-carrying bomber to an air show and display craft. It now teaches history through its mere presence and it should remain a (mobile) museum, not end up in one. The aircraft circled the region for at least a couple of hours and should continue to roam the skies.

The above images can be expanded and zoomed in (opening a new tab for each image will allow zoom). Both were taken with my main camera from an upper floor window in our house. Sorry about the obstruction in the second image; that's part of the exterior mesh on the window in the way.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

"Somebody to You" - The Vamps featuring Demi Lovato

The following song was released to British radio back in May but I've only recently started hearing it on the station I listen to:

It's "Somebody to You". The song is by The Vamps and features Demi Lovato, and comes from Meet the Vamps, which is The Vamps' debut studio album. The Vamps are a British boy band and their music is no better or worse than most other boy bands: it's moderately enjoyable overall, but I really like this song, although that can be heavily attributed to Lovato's presence.

I was somewhat disappointed by the music video when I watched it, mainly because of the expressions on the faces of The Vamps and Lovato: they're all wearing huge grins throughout the video. I interpreted their voices in the song to be longing, even a tad angry; the enormous smiles contradict that for me, although to be fair, they don't ruin the song.

I wasn't intending to write a song post so close to another; I had a picture post planned instead but that post is a little more complicated than I initially thought. It's been moved forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - June 2014

Here are my contributions for June 2014's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post:

Wednesday, 4th June: This was our tin opener, which I wrote about here. As you can see, part of the mechanism inside the handle broke, which meant it could no longer maintain a grip on a can, thus rendering the device useless.

Tuesday, 10th June: I put way too much soap in the sink when I washed the lunchtime dishes; the bubble layer was so thick, I could pick it up without it falling through my hands. My brother took this picture with his new camera.

Friday, 13th June: We made bread rolls for some burgers; Mum and I forgot to apply butter before placing these in the oven, hence why these rolls are not glossy in appearance.

Wednesday, 18th June: This is the empty fairground, which I found eerie. It doesn't look particularly eerie in this image, but a picture of a place doesn't generate or evoke the same feelings as being present there does.

Wednesday, 25th June: The council-maintained grasses in our neighbourhood were left to grow for several weeks before they were finally cut. I'm glad they were cut: the long grasses were untidy and people were throwing litter in them.

Monday, 30th June: This is a pigeon feather that was on our back lawn. When I photographed the feather, I was so impressed with the quality and detail of the image that I did not shrink it down for my blog; this picture can be expanded and zoomed in.