Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fernando Llorente - The Album

While living in Bristol myself and Steven Warnes (TTB) wrote and recorded, to the best of our knowledge, the first Fernando Llorente concept album there has ever been.

Described by at least one of the co-creaters as having ‘little artistic merit’ and being ‘a difficult, at times sexually exhausting listen’ FERNANDO LLORENTE – THE ALBUM successfully represents perhaps the zenith, or at least the nadir, of football concept album ambition.

This is the concept, track by track:

1.       Hello Fernando Llorente

A joyous greeting to our hero!  From the fans.  From his family.  From football lovers everywhere.  Hello Fernando Llorente!  All hail El Rey Leon!  The Lion King!

2.       Pre Match Jitters

The dressing room before the game is tense and The Lion King sits amidst the commotion and noise detached and immersed in his thoughts.  Will he play well?  Will he score?

3.        The Lion King (Kick Off)

The game begins.  Our hero plays like The Lion King he is.

4.        Tempers Flair (The Foul)

A frustrated Fernando Llorente is antagonised by the opposition and retaliates – leaving his marker lying on the ground looking up at Llorente.

5.       Half Time (Come on Lads!)

Llorente and his team mates are reminded of their responsibilities and told they must do better.

6.        Just the Keeper to Beat...

Llorente and his team come flying out of the traps at the start of the second half.  Within minutes The Lion King has ridden several challenges and is clean through on goal.  With just the keeper to beat, Llorente lays a perfect ball for a team mate…who skies the ball over the bar.

7.        I Miss You (Javi Martinez)

The Lion King reminisces of the times when he played with Javi Martinez.  He hopes they can play together again.

8.        The Injury

Llorente is hacked down, taken off and forced to watch the rest of the game sitting on the bench.  The out of time sections of the song signify Llorente’s mental distress.

9.        MoM

The game ends.  Fernando Llorente is the Man of The Match.  The final score is irrelevant. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Technology Piece on difference between LCD and AMOLED display technologies

Piece for KnowYourMobile Job - 1/11/13
I remember when Nokia brought out their first colour screen phone in the distant days of the early 2000s. 

We had street parties.  Finally we could play Snake in colour.

Fast forward ten years and such is the advancement in mobile technology, the unprecedented expansion of what we use our phones for and the exponential rise in popularity and profitability of mobile devices, that fiercely competitive manufacturers ply vast resources into every aspect of construction in order to win consumer loyalty. 

The very nature of touchscreen makes the display screen a vital battleground in this on-going technological war of one-upsmanship.

Traditionally mobile phones have used LCD screens.  This goes way back to the heavy duty bricks of the 90s but they’re still just as popular today with the iPhone 5, HTC One X and LG G2 continuing to use LCD technology.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens work by way of a fluorescent backlight that sits behind hundreds of thousands of pixels, each one showing different intensities of red, green or blue to filter the light to create all the different colours, and ultimately the image, you see on the screen.  

One of the disadvantages of this is that ‘black’ on an LCD screen will always be a dark grey because what you’re seeing is actually a heavily filtered backlit projection. 

AMOLED, or, if you prefer, Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (but let’s agree on AMOLED) only started being used for mobile phones screens in 2012.  With AMOLED each pixel on the screen generates its own light.  AMOLED screens therefore require no backlight and don’t have to deal with any of the filters that LCD screens do.  Not only does this make them thinner, it also makes for a wider range of colours, a greater contrast of colour, and a purer, more vivid, light.  LEDs can also simply switch themselves off to create a deeper and truer black.  This has the additional advantage of prolonging battery life if, for example, the phone is on standby or has a black background on the handset.

The HTC One S, Samsung Galaxy S 4 and Nokia Lumia 1020 all use AMOLED displays.

However, and this is where it starts to get tricky, all the content we view on the Internet and on operating systems, both on mobile devices and on desktop computers, is currently based around a colour range called SRGB.

The LCD display’s colour range matches very closely to the SRGB range and so colours tend to look very natural on LCD screens.

AMOLED can display a much larger range of colours than SRGB but, at the moment, the content we view is not as compatible as it is with LCD. 

With no colour management options available, colours on AMOLED displays therefore often look over saturated.  Common theory holds that AMOLED colours, while punchier, actually look less natural.

To confuse the issue further, in the last couple of years, following the good press AMOLED received about the strength of their colour tone, LCD developers like LG tried to match the vivid colours that were in-vogue and seen as big selling points for AMOLED phones, most notably Samsung’s Galaxy range.  LCD developers achieved this by tweaking saturation and gamma calibration on their phones at the development stage to produce more vivid colours on their LCD screens.

The result of this was the colours looked more vivid BUT also lost their natural look.  For example boosting the green might look terrific in Angry Birds but unnaturally vivid in a photograph that requires more variation and subtlety of tone.

If every colour is slightly recalibrated then the entire colour system is thrown off as a result.

Moving away from the technological mumbo jumbo (with a frown and one hand left scratching its head) and on a practical note the very fact that the LCD screen is backlit makes it more readable in sunlight than AMOLED.  This means LCD has a noticeable practical advantage when you’re relaxing by your pool playing Candy Crush before work or sitting in the park trying to watch pornography on your lunch-break (delete as appropriate).

AMOLED screens have also been known to suffer from ‘blue pixel burn in’.  This is your good old fashioned screen burn that occurs when a static image is displayed for a long time.  As blue is the most high energy colour it’s also the most likely to cause a burn.

A lot of the AMOLED vs LCD argument is frankly down to personal preference, but either way Snake is looking a lot healthier nowadays.


News Piece on acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft

Piece for KnowYourMobile Job - 1/11/2013

Microsoft moved firmly into the hardware market this week with the announcement that they are set to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for $7.2bn (£4.6bn).  The deal will also see Nokia license its patents and mapping services to Microsoft.

The merger is perhaps the logical conclusion of a partnership which began in February 2011 and has already enjoyed some success with Nokia’s generally well-received Lumia smartphones.

Despite all but dominating the mobile phone arena as recently as six years ago, Nokia have struggled to remain competitive in a smart phone market in which they currently only have a 3% share. 

Microsoft has also been sluggish to respond to the tablet revolution and have failed to establish themselves as a leading innovator in the wake of the rise of Apple.  Their Surface tablet was released last year but was met with unenthusiastic sales figures resulting in a whopping write down on unsold tablets of around $900 million.

Both companies will hope that by integrating Microsoft software with Nokia hardware the Windows Phone will be able to compete against the Apple and Android operating systems which currently dominate the market. 

By running an integrated operating system across their phone, tablet and desktop devices Microsoft believe they have spotted a hole in the market that Apple, who run different OS on their Mac and I-devices, have failed to address. 

Microsoft consider this integration across phone, tablet and PC will persuade app developers to develop for Microsoft OS - seen as a key step in getting one over on Apple. 

By combining hardware and software development new Windows Phone devices will also be produced faster and with better integrated apps which many regard as a key factor in Apple’s recent success.

Questions will be raised over whether other phone manufacturers such as HTC, LG and Samsung will continue to support the Microsoft Windows system, given that it will now be synonymous with a major competitor.  With Nokia already accounting for over 80% of the Windows Phone market it’s likely that this may simply be a calculated risk the company is willing to take.

The impact of the merger also raises questions over the long term sustainability and practicality of firms such as HTC and Blackberry being able to survive as solely phone makers in the fast changing technology market.

Why Did You Buy Your Phone?

Piece for KnowYourMobile Job - Why Did You Buy Your Phone?  15/09/2013

HTC Desire C (or why I didn’t buy an I-Phone)

For years I had to listen to everyone saying how great the I-Phone was while I cradled my reliable, battle hardened but ultimately obsolete Nokia and pretended I didn’t care that I couldn’t afford anything better.

Gushing statements that I was genuinely on the receiving end of included:

“I can’t believe I ever lived without an I-Phone!”

“It has changed my life!”

“It’s the most important thing I’ve ever owned!”

And so on.                       

Starry eyed with excitement I tried to think what other inventions in human history could boast similar glowing references.  The plough?  Perhaps the commode?  How would an I-Phone compete with these?  

Could it magically transport my piss into the toilet without me realising it?  Would it feed me while I slept?  I was sceptical.  Besides these were the same people who were telling me how good Lost and Dan Brown were.

When it came to choosing a new phone I decided there were six desirable qualities I wanted.

1)     Durability

I drop things. 

Not all the time like Joe Hart or Bez, but enough to make me realise that whichever phone I chose needed to be able to withstand the occasional kamikaze nosedive from the safety of my pocket to the unforgiving concrete of the floor.  There wasn’t an easy way to test this as the staff in the stores I visited seemed tired and eventually irritated by my repeated requests to test every device they handed me by dropping it from a height while standing on a chair.  So instead I had to recall personal memories of friends who had shown me their unreadable cracked I-Phone screens and their unusable I-Phone split keypads and wonder whether the I-Phone was really for me.

Further research concluded that another phone, the HTC Desire C, while far from the bomb proof husk that my old Nokia Brick provided me back in the 00s, was nonetheless durable and able to withstand shock impacts that would render many of its competitors unusable.  I reasoned I was unlikely to subject my new phone to the same routine pummelling that, as a carefree young scamp high on booze and excitement, I had once subjected my Nokia to; but at the same time there was perhaps still enough booze and excitement in my life to rule out something as apparently delicate and fragile as an I-Phone.

HTC Desire C – 1

I-Phone – 0

2)       Music Storage

At the time I was looking to buy a new phone I had recently been parted from the functioning possession of my I-pod Classic after it exploded into several interesting, but no less heart-breaking, pieces on my apartment floor after a booze ridden night of excitement sat in watching Wimbledon on television.   I decided that whichever phone I committed to next would have to also replace my beloved, now deceased, 32GB I-pod Classic.

Again here I looked at I-Phones for a long time, noting that to get 32GB of storage took the price up from a basic £200 to a whopping £500.

I dug around a little and found that some phones, like the HTC Desire C, supported SD cards which could ramp the storage space up to equal the 32GB of a top of the range I-Phone, but at a fraction of the cost.

The HTC Desire C also came with the Dr Dre Beats audio bass booster which, unlike the obscenely overpriced Dr Dre Beats headphones, you can turn off whenever you want to listen to something that isn’t meant to be piledriven into your ears.

HTC Desire C – 2                                                                                        
I-Phone – 0

3)       Camera

You never know when the cat is going to vomit or a friend is about to be happy slapped and I decided I wanted to capture these treasured memories with a picture quality that wouldn’t turn out looking like a deleted scene in Paranormal Activity .  Again I undertook painstaking research (okay it’s the Internet) to deduce which phone would have an acceptable camera for what I wanted – i.e. very basic photography.
Nowadays I-Phones have a standard 8 Mega Pixel camera included as standard but back in the far distant days of early 2012 the 5MP camera of the HTC Desire C was as good as the 5MP camera on the I-Phone 4 and superior to the 3.2MP camera of the I-Phone 3GS.

Again it was difficult to see what advantage an I-Phone would give me here…

HTC Desire C – 3
I-Phone – 0

4)       Football Manager Handheld

In 2012 when I was looking for a new phone I was actually living in Mauritius without a computer or an internet connection in my house.  My days off work were spent lounging on a tropical beach reading and drinking cocktails and yet…something was missing.  No computer meant no Football Manager to occupy my waking thoughts and without this there was always going to be a hole in my life that needed to be filled.
So when Apple announced they were releasing Football Manager Handheld on the I-Phone it threw all my previous logical reasoning out of the window in favour of the inexorable purchase of an I-Phone Whatever.
Until Android announced they were bringing Football Manager Handheld to the HTC Desire C.

HTC Desire C – 4
I-Phone – 1

5)       Price

HTC Desire C - £100
I-Phone 4 - £500
I-Phone 3GS – £300

HTC Desire C – 5
I-Phone – 1

6)      Conclusion

What tipped the final balance was when I realised with horror that I had forgotten to check if any of these devices could actually make a phone call or receive a text message.

Desperately I went back to my research (yes alright the Internet) and promptly read an article that suggested the I-Phone 4 had ‘difficulties maintaining conversations if held incorrectly’.

With the final score a convincing 6-1 to HTC I packed away my charts and proudly marched to my local store to demand they fit my pocket with an HTC Desire C.

The store assistant smiled at me.

“Good choice sir,” he said, resting a reassuring hand gently on my arm, “Good choice”.

N.B. James is now planning to ditch his slow laggy HTC Desire C for an I-Phone Whatever which will enable him to use Garage Band and all the other apps he is currently using ‘second rate versions of’ on his HTC.