Are we playing too many video games?

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We are all now well versed in the games that are available for X-box or Playstation, even if you have never touched a game controller you will have seen the adverts on TV. They offer the player a chance to live a totally different life without any personal danger (apart from RSI). The growth in the games industry has been staggering, and the UK is a major player. But just how massive wasn’t clear to me until this week when sales figures were released that indicated games sales now greatly exceed ‘video’ sales.

Taking over?

I am showing my age here as obviously videos are a thing of the past – but the figures relate to all DVD and Blue Ray sales as well as good old videos – and the figures are staggering!

Sales of computer games in the UK last year were £1.93bn! I know we all accept billions as small change now, but this is massive! By contrast, sales of DVDs and other video formats totalled £1.80bn, while music pulled in a ‘measly’  £1.07bn. Last year games accounted for 40.2% of the entertainment market, video for 37.6% and music for 22.2%.

In reality sales are falling overall (part of the reason for the demise of Game on our High Streets) and video won’t go without a fight. But I do think it is sad that we get our ‘jollies’ in this way – watching films is a social thing, playing games can be very anti social (it certainly is when my son is doing it)

So we have hit another ‘milestone’ in entertainment – I am not sure I like this one!

The weather – an obsession?

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I am a self-confessed ‘follower’ of the weather. I love my weather apps and have been using them for years (well before the current app growth). Over the period I have used various programmes (as they were known before they became apps).


My old favourite was Pocket Weather which I used for years on my pocket pc devices, it was able to draw down various weather feeds such as the BBC (always a good source?) and more importantly got the current weather via the METAR system, this provides hourly readings from weather stations (normally airfields, and is very accurate) .

When I moved to iPhone I lost pocket weather and had to find an alternative that was nice to use but also accurate. This was not as easy as it might sound as many of the weather apps (the apple one being an example) take their weather from US feeds which are unbelievable inaccurate on UK weather.

So after trying a number I settled upon Weatherpro which is accurate and easy to use – or has been to date!

Subsequently my old favourite Pocket Weather has come to iPhone and iPad so I use that as well (and I am involved with beta testing it again which is fun).

that's more like it!

However, when a weather app gives me an ‘unusual’ weather result I find it strangely un-settling, and this happened yesterday morning! It is currently very cold so when I looked at Weatherpro in the morning to see it say it was 2C was a surprise to say the least! I checked on Pocket Weather and it was much better minus 2C! And it is not just a matter of the minus being missed, it was 4C the evening before (but was actually below freezing)

My faith in Weatherpro has been shaken! This also has brought home to me what a sad person I must be when it comes to the weather (although I believe this is a ‘national trait’?) Is it normal to check the weather on your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning and before you draw the curtains?

iPod – can it really be 10 years!

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This is a big year for Apple – for good and bad reasons. The bad being the loss of Steve Jobs, but perhaps the birth of the iPod 10 years ago yesterday was the start of Apples renaissance and the reason that Steve Jobs was such an industry giant.

Nano 1st generation - my favourite

We take for granted the ability to listen to music on the move now – and yes Apple did not invent the MP3 player – but they drove it into the market with increasingly ‘sexy’ designs which were easy to use.

The first iPods in our family were Minis – not very small by current standards, but wonderful and colourful units in their day. They belonged to our kids, my first iPod was the first Nano.

The Nano was so thin and had a shiny back – and it snapped in half if you sat on it! Mine is still intact and a thing of Beauty – still the best looking in my view!

We have now moved on, iPod Touch is the favoured unit in our household together with iPhones – but the current Nano which can be worn as a watch looks amazing. How long before this can become a phone as well?

The rumour mill suggests that Apple are close to killing off the ‘classic’ iPod. I do hope they don’t this year, partly out of respect to its founder, but also because it would be a loss to the design world as a whole!

The trouble with iPods

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Now let me say first off that I am a big fan of the iPod as a piece of tech. I use one in my car when I am not using the radio (and missed it terribly when a software update stopped it linking through my stereo). I also use it at work when I want to ‘zone out’ and stop people asking me stupid questions!

Use with caution!

Now I am including any personal music player in this, not just iPods, but like Hoovers, iPod is now the accepted term for any personal digital music player (and the best in my view).

But, getting back to the matter at hand – my problem is where people use them. When listening to any such unit the beauty of them is that you are able to lose yourself in the music – totally unaware of what is going on around you. Great if you are in an office, on an airplane, or train. But not when crossing the road! This phenomenon has a name ‘iPod oblivion’.

Earlier this week I almost ‘took out’ a pedestrian who walked straight across the road in front of me while listening to his iPod. Now I was perhaps a little unkind as I saw what he was going to do from a long way back, and let him get level with me on the road before I blew my horn. Suffice to say he was just a little surprised – but I doubt he will cross roads without looking in future!

We can’t stop people using this type of equipment in this type of location, but perhaps some sort of health warning should be made by the government? After all we don’t have that many health warnings to think about do we!

Seriously though, this is an issue, it appears that there are around seventeen serious accidents a day in the UK caused by iPod oblivion! You have been warned!

The “correct” way to listen to an album!

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Now I would be the first to admit that I am getting on a bit these days. I have a habit now of going into ‘grumpy old man’ mode, which also includes ‘reminiscing mode’.

Classic albums

I love the ability to use iPods and similar devices to listen to music anywhere and at any time, I am not a Luddite! But, one of my pet hates in the car (or any other time actually) is the ‘switching around’ that my kids (and all others of a similar age I assume) do between ‘tracks’ on albums! They also have a habit of ‘getting bored’ before a track finishes – and switch to the next.

I have made my thoughts known on this to them on numerous occasions and my daughter now holds back before stopping a track early (not because she agrees, but because she knows it annoys me!)

So, imagine my delight at discovering that there is a growing band of people who share my view!

Record clubs are springing up all over the country (I have not been and they are probably full of ‘scary people’ but who cares!). The rules are strict. No talking. No texting. You must listen to every song on the album – in order!

‘Classic Album Sundays’ are apparently being set up all over the UK. Groups of music fans sit in front of a vinyl turntable, with the best speakers they can afford, dim the lights and listen to a classic album all the way through. This is a strike against “‘download culture”, the sense that music has just become an endless compilation of random songs used as background noise.

This is also a topic that has been making the papers, Pink Floyd for example went to court to try to protect the integrity of albums such as Dark Side of the Moon.  These artists created works that have a beginning, a middle and end, that have nuances, themes, that take you on a journey that’s as great as any novel, any opera, any drama – it is an art form.

Since the start of the MP3 era albums have  become meaningless. Some songs are given away as free downloads, track listings can change with bonus tracks being added or changed. You can listen all the way through but do not feel obliged to obey the whims of a pop star.

You still cannot beat sitting in a dark room with a high-end hi-fi listening to a classic album all the way through – try it!

The end of an 80’s icon!

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The word ‘Walkman’ is now part of our language (although not one that would probably mean as much to the younger generation!). I remember when I was younger (considerably) buying my first Sony Walkman. It was purchased in Los Angeles during a family holiday. That was in the days of music cassettes (remember them) and having to listen to an album all the way through as there was no easy way to skip tracks like all kids do now (drives me crazy).

The original Walkman

Well the Walkman is dead! After three decades and more than 220 million units, Sony has stopped selling its Walkman cassette player in Japan,  admitting the gadget could not keep up in the digital age (frankly I am amazed it is still available).

The July 1, 1979 rollout of the portable cassette player helped transform Sony into a global electronics powerhouse. Interestingly the initial reaction to the Walkman was poor. Many retailers thought that a cassette player without a recording mechanism had little chance of success.

Despite this the Japanese giant sold 30,000 Walkman in the first two months after its launch, and 50 million within a decade – the rest as they say is history.

The Walkman revolutionised the way we listened to music, it was the first truly portable and private music source, but it has of course since been overtaken by another icon of the modern era – the iPod (does anyone not own one of these?).

The Walkman cassette players is still not totally dead as Chinese made versions will still be exported to ‘third world’  markets.

This is the end of an era – something that the kids of today probably can’t grasp fully – probably the closest for them would be iPod production being stopped.

A sad day!

Holiday iPod jinx?

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I am not one normally to believe in the jinx scenario, but today I suffered an issue with an iPod that related directly to leaving for holiday – just like last year!

Today we got almost a mile from home on the way to the airport when Sam’s iPod touch asked to be connected to iTunes – it had been working fine the previous evening. Being close to home we returned and reinstalled everything on it, almost an hours work.

Bizarrely last year my wife’s iPod lost everything in it’s memory on the first day of the holiday – we were on the plane (I was not popular as it was my fault apparently).

My question is – why does this only happen on the first day of our summer holiday?

Is it a clever marketing ploy by Apple? If an iPod breaks when holidays beckon then do you just buy a new one?

If so, how the hell does Steve Jobs know I am going on my summer holiday?

Big brother is watching!