Saturday, 19 August 2017

An Intro to Anime for Newcomers

We’re lucky to live in a world where you can access content from almost every culture on the globe. Whether it’s quirky existentialism from France or horror movies set in the outback of Australia, there is so much to choose from when you sign into your Netflix or Hulu accounts. And these movies can really give you a little flavor of the culture of the country they were made in.

One of the best examples of culture oriented film making is the Japanese style of ‘anime.’ It’s a highly stylistic type of animation that has a lot to offer - not just for entertainment’s sake, but also as a way to get a glimpse of Japanese culture. However, anime is also a pretty intimidating field to check out when you are just getting started - there is so much to choose from it can be a bewildering world.

With this in mind, here’s a little introduction to anime, and some good starting points to help get you into this weird and wonderful style of animation.

What is anime?

Anime is simply Japanese animation, either in movie form or serialized for TV. In the early days, it was solely produced for a home audience so you might find the early anime titles a little tough to get into, primarily because they are so wrapped up in Japanese cultural references. However, it wasn’t long before the wider world started to take an interest in the anime classics - titles like Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop garnered huge popularity around the world.

Is it just for kids?

Anime is incredibly broad-reaching, both in subject matter and age groups - perhaps more so than traditional western animation. Sure, you have the titles aimed at kids - Pokemon and much of the Studio Ghibli back catalog - but equally, there are some aimed at adults - check out titles like Monster and Queen’s Blade if you like a little more mature material.

Is it just sci-fi?

While much of the anime output is focused on futuristic, forward thinking concepts, it’s not always the case. The Studio Ghibli titles mentioned above are the perfect example - they are gentle, sweet movies that still manage to send a strong message without a laser gun, spaceship, or evil robot overlord in sight. The Ghibli films are critically acclaimed almost everywhere, and are an ideal starting point for anyone new to anime - check out Princess Mononoke, which is effectively a Japanese version of a good, old fashioned Disney story. Alternatively, try Little Witch Academia - it’s a great little story of a young girl enlisting into an academy for trainee witches. If might just fill any Harry Potter hole you might have had in recent years.

Why should I watch anime?

The western way of making movies can be a little tiresome. Once you have seen one Disney movie, you have pretty much seen them all, right? Well, if you want to investigate something a little different, with far more range, and movies and TV shows that look fresh and new, anime is a perfect starting point. There are romantic comedies, tales from Japanese history and mythology, as well as the hard sci fi of titles like Ghost in the Shell and Planetes. Why not take a look and tell me what you think?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Get with the Program: Learning to Code

As more of our lives turn digital, coding is swiftly becoming the much needed skill of the future. Learning to code is now easier than ever with thousands of resources on offer. Whether you want to build websites or create apps or even develop your own video game, these are the steps you should take in order to learn how to programme.

Choose a language

You first need to decide on what language to learn. Certain languages may be more suited to specific jobs [e.g. C for Apple products, SQL for server power]. That said, these aren’t always the easiest to learn as a beginner. Java [for web programming] and Javascript [for website scripting] are two of the most flexible and ideal languages for beginners. Python meanwhile is another widely used scripting language that ideal for novices. Once you’ve learnt one language, others will become easier to learn.

Get the basics with free online tools

You’ll find lots of free tools online that are perfect for getting the basics. These may include blog guides and video tutorials on Youtube. There are lots of good text editors online that you can download for free. Similarly for some languages such as Java or C you may want to download a compiler [again you can find these for free].

Take a course

Courses are recommended for helping you learn the ropes. This could be a general course in coding. Alternatively you could look for more specific courses catered to your area of interest such as Dreamweaver classes for website building or iOS workshops for Apple app development. Courses can also be great places for meeting fellow coders who can help you get your foot in the door if you’re looking for a coding career.

Start your own projects

From the very start, you should be trying to build your own projects. At first, keep these very basic. You can then start to get creative and start incorporating your own ideas into projects. Open source programmes are useful for finding pieces of code left by other programmers that can make life quicker and more efficient. Whilst the framework of coding can be learnt from online sources and courses, be prepared to eventually start experimenting [this is where the fun begins!].

Expand your knowledge

At this point you can start learning other languages to further your versatility. All languages rely on the same notion of logic and formulae, and so you’ll find picking up a second language simpler once you’ve got to grips with one. Expanding your maths and physics knowledge can help you to better understand algorithms. Be patient – much of coding is problem solving and you’ll occasionally get stuck for a while. Working with others can be very beneficial, giving you people to bounce ideas off and learn from. Don’t worry too much about mastering a language before pursuing any careers or personal projects – you’ll learn on the job and develop a mastery through experience of constant problem solving.

The Joy of Horse Racing

If you’re about to embark on your first day at the races, you are in for a treat. You may think you’ll be in the stands feeling cramped, with very little personal space and possibly willing for the day to end, but think again. You will spend your day gripped by the drama of the racecourse. Each and every race will have you hooked, your adrenaline will be pumping, and your heart will be racing as hard as the horses, as you witness the climax to many thrilling races. A day at the races is more than just watching horses. Take a look at this guide to getting the most out of your day.


Any day at the races is an excuse to get dressed up. Men wear their most dapper suits, ties and maybe even a pair of horse racing related cufflinks. Ladies can throw on their newest frock and accessorize with a gorgeous clutch bag and hat. You will have the opportunity to look and feel like a million dollars. Ladies Days that are run by some race meets are a brilliant excuse for groups of women to have a fun day out with friends without having any inkling of what horse racing entails. It is simply a great way to spend a Saturday in the summer.

When you arrive at the races, you’ll be able to enjoy a glass of Pimms or maybe a flute of champagne. As soon as you get there, scour the lunch options. You can, of course, select the fish and chips van or the burger stall, but there is always the option to dine in the race course restaurant to really glam up your day.

Having A Flutter

The sheer thrill of a day at the races comes in the form of betting. You carefully scan the line up to each race and then choose the horse that you think has the greatest chance of winning. You may perform some quick in depth analysis of a horse’s form and its odds or you may simply select a horse because you like his name or the jockey is wearing your favorite color. Anyhow, once you have selected your horse, it’s time to bet.

There is a range of betting options available. In the age of smartphones and technology, you don’t even have to leave the stand to place a bet. By utilizing the Tab app, you are able to view the racecards and odds from the comfort of your seat. You can then select your wager, place your bet and enjoy cheering on your trusty stallion.

The noise of the crowd and the buzz in the air is infectious. Soon you’ll be on your feet shouting encouraging words to your horse and jockey. Win or lose, the thrill of a horse race is worth the day out in itself.

Get Up Close And Personal

You don’t have to spend your day glued to your seat in the stand. There are opportunities to venture down to the warm up circle where you’ll see the horses, jockeys and trainers mooching around before a race is due to start. Down by the race track where the horses linger is a hive of nervous energy with trainers waiting for the race to begin. You can get up close and see the physique, fitness and power of the horses that are racing.

More often than not, horse meets are places to socialize and enjoy time with friends and family. You could even find yourself shopping if there is an antiques or local food market on the same weekend as the horse meet. There are many facilities within the venue that will allow you to take a break from the horse racing, whether this is popping into the souvenir shop or taking a look at the internal museum.

Some horse racing events have family fun as their number one focus. It’s almost as though the horse racing comes second to making an event for the whole family. These meets can last up to a week and can be accompanied by music concerts and food events. There is a real carnival atmosphere with parties that can go on long into the night.

Long gone are the days of old men in tweed coats dominating the horse racing scene. Horse racing is now more inclusive, encouraging families, groups of friends and the younger generation to enjoy the excitement of the sport. You never know, after your day at the races, you could become horse racing’s latest fan.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fantastically Fun Activities that can Actually Make You Money

Is there a better way of making money than by having fun while you are doing it? Plenty of guides out there show you how to make money online or otherwise, of course. But let’s face it, there are only so many surveys you can fill in or articles you can churn out for a penny a word. So, let’s put the focus on fun for a change - and show you how you can make a little extra from your hobbies or interests. Let’s get started right away.

Record a podcast

Have a specific niche interest? Maybe you are in love with a particular TV show or football team, and want to tell the world about it? If so, why not start a regular podcast? Making a podcast allows you to make the rules, and you can talk about whatever you want, invite guests, and it won’t cost much to set up. All you need is some basic recording equipment, a computer, a podcast host and a few interesting ideas. Start off by offering your podcast free of charge, and when you get popular, you can request payments or even donations. Popular podcasts are also hugely popular with advertisers, so bear that in mind, too.

Record yourself playing video games

Are you an expert gamer who knows all the tricks and secrets of a particular game? If so, why not record yourself doing a walkthrough - these types of videos are hugely popular on YouTube right now. And if you manage to build up a large audience, you can end up earning a nice little side income through advertising.

Play online games

There are an enormous amount of online games that you can win money from. Whether it’s a casino, the lottery, or even Bingo, the choices out there at the moment are enormous. However, make sure that you are incredibly careful before playing these sorts of games as they can be addictive. And you should always spend some time learning how they work before spending a penny. How To: Game In Play videos can be useful, and many sites offer free practice sessions which you should use. Also, never forget that you should only ever spend money on online gaming on money you can afford to lose.

Sell artwork on Etsy

Do you love drawing, the arts, and design? If so, why not put some of your creations up for sale on services like Etsy? Opening your own store on Etsy is a simple process, and as long as you take great photos of your products and write awesome descriptions, there’s no reason why you can’t make some money out of your craft hobby.


Handy with a musical instrument or have an incredible voice? If so, don’t be shy - why not get out there and try some busking? You will need a special permit, but other than that it’s just a question of calming your nerves and getting out there and doing it. Some buskers make a surprising amount of money, so why not give it a bash? 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Spying Tech 101

Do you want to know what they’re up to? Do you wish you were a fly-on-the-wall in that room? Or do you just want proof they’re doing something they shouldn’t be? There are lots of reasons why we might want to discreetly record something someone else is doing. Of course, most of the tech we carry around with us or have on hand is already recording other people and events. Car cameras, smartphones, and wearable tech can all do it. Why not find out more with these awesome gadgets?


This traditional spying staple has been around [almost] forever. These days, of course, they are much smaller and will fit discreetly in a pocket. Can’t see anyone watching you? They may be far away. Some of the best binoculars can zoom in ten times to be able to see the smaller details up close. And yes, some of them can record too! Handy and portable and great fun to use, even if you’re only birdwatching.

Your Smart TV

Yes, your TV can spy on the viewer. Systems like Netflix and Amazon will use your viewing history to offer a more customized viewing experience. This can be quite helpful when you’re looking for the next awesome box set to binge view. If you don’t want your history to sit on the screen after you’ve gone to bed, be sure to clear your viewing history first! Integrated systems can be used across platforms, as you may have found out from Amazon. Most of this is harmless, but it could prove a little embarrassing if others use your devices!

Hidden Mini Camera

They have hundreds of applications, although most people admit to using them as nanny cams. Because everyday objects can spy on you, the poor childminder now has to be immaculately behaved at all times! These little beauties can be inserted in soft toys, book cases, handbags and more. That means you can transmit live footage wherever you go if you’re wifi enabled too. They’re great for security and monitoring meetings too.


There are lots of different kinds of trackers. Some cost very little. You can use your smartphone apps to track many different things. Of course, the fun part is attaching those trackers to the people [or pets] you want to track. BlueTooth, GPS, and WIFI are the most common ways the tracker can connect to your app for tracking. Not all of them will record a journey, but they can be handy if you want to know where they are.

Voice Recorders

Tape recorders used to be big bulky devices that gobbled up all the power of a C-size battery in no time. Nowadays, recorders have no moving parts as they contain solid state hard drives or memory. This means battery power can last days, and you can store days-worth of recording on there too. This is ideal for discreetly recording lectures, meetings, or people up to no good! You’ll be able to hear everything that happens. If you want to listen in live, then you may need a WIFI microphone device.

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