The Apprentice, who’s gonna win it?

So, here comes the obligatory ‘Who I think will win’ blog post about the Apprentice, given that it’s the final on Sunday. Personally, I’ve found this series a little disappointing. Seeing as Alan Sugar is trying to move away from the employee tag of the previous series’ and is stressing that this is a business partnership, a lot of the tasks have been very similar to ones we’ve already seen, and there’s been a lot of sales tasks. Also, the contestants have been a bit, well, shit, for search of a better word.

And so it comes to the big one. The one we’ve all been waiting for. The final. 16 contestants have become 4, but, in my opinion, at least 1 of the 4 should not be in the final, and one of the recent sackings should be here. Anyone who watches the show will know who I mean. Anyway, the final 4 are:

Helen Louse Milligan. The favourite, the people’s choice, she’s won all but 1 task, and was, until the last couple of tasks at least, odds-on to win. But in the last two tasks, week 11 especially, I’ve found her weak, and pretty disappointing. Still, I’d be surprised if she isn’t in the running for the partnership.

Tom Pellereau. Very much the surprise choice of the 4, he’s never really shone, but has come into his own in the last 2 or 3 tasks, after Alan Sugar basically told him to buck his ideas up or he’s sacked. His selling of the nodding dogs in week 11 helped his team win the task, and I found his performance in the fast food task to be very impressive. What he does have in his favour is that he’s an inventor, an ideas guy, not a salesman, which is maybe what Sugar is looking for.

Jim Eastwood. The loveable Irish rogue who makes up for in bullshit what he lacks in, well, everything else. He’s come close to the executioner’s block a couple of times, but is still holding his own coming into the final, and was a competent project manager in the fast food task, with his main failing being that he couldn’t micro-manage the two girls, and he tried to do too much.

Susan Ma. My favourite, and she has been since the beginning. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s from Croydon, that she’s the best-suited for Sugar’s partnership, such is her knowledge of starting up and running her own business, or her somewhat endearing naivety. I think that everyone has bullied her throughout the series, and whilst she’s not stood up for herself much, she’s still in the final, and, as I see it, second favourite.

So there we have it. I think Helen will win, barring an absolute shitstorm. I think the interviewers will tear apart Jim, Tom and probably Susan as well. Hell they won’t be kind to Helen. But, how will her business plan stand up to scrutiny?

All in all, this is, in my opinion, the closest final of the Apprentice in years, and Sunday night will definitely be an interesting episode.

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Mac: are they really worth all the fuss??

Before I start, can we all have a moment’s silence please?

 

Still there? Ok cool.

The silence was for my Toshiba laptop which, whilst never ground-breaking, was a loyal servant for over 2 years, putting up with the daily torment I gave it. The laptop died a couple of days ago, after threatening to for a few months. It’s not as if I wasn’t expecting it, but it still took me by surprise, and I didn’t have a replacement. But a friend of mine did, he loaned me his Mac Mini, and I’m over the moon with it.

 

I’ve always been a bit, well, anti-Apple, but took the plunge with an iPhone, and can’t use any other phone, which is a bit of a problem as I work in a phone shop! But I’ve always, even after the iPhone, been very anti-Mac. I saw them as a waste of money, and only useful for editing things, which a hell of a lot of Mac users just don’t do.

 

Oh how wrong I was.

 

Despite being twice as old as my Toshiba laptop, the Mac Mini runs faster than that ever did, and is an absolute joy to use. Unfortunately, I think this is the beginning of the end for me. I can see myself, in little to no time, becoming an absolute Apple fanboy, and straight up refusing to use anything else. I hate the idea of being a fanboy, and being so damn narrow-minded, but it doesn’t seem like I’ve got much choice in the matter any more.

 

Anyone out there reading this that actually knows me will know that admitting I’m wrong is something I never ever do, even when I know I’m wrong. I’m a stubborn bastard at the best of times. But I was wrong about Apple. I’ve scorned them for many years, naively, and am now happy to admit that I was wrong.

 

Now to get that cheque from Mr Jobs…

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Ransom Notes: Cinematic genius, or out-dated rubbish?

Last night, whilst I was watching The Bodyguard (don’t judge me, it was a slow Wednesday night, ITV2 were showing it, and I had just been bored shitless by the Marseilles – Man U match) the scene where the killer is harassing Whitney Houston’s character with his letters came on, and it occurred to me: why don’t we see letters from antagonists, whether that be kidnappers or otherwise, written from newspaper clippings in movies any more? Whilst I can’t think of any direct movie references, excluding The Bodyguard, the image is quintessentially noir for me, and if I think of a kidnapper demanding a ransom, it’s pretty much the first idea that comes into my head.

 

I dunno though, maybe it’s a bit out-dated.

 

Thoughts? Leave ’em in the comments…

 

 

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The death of the newspaper

With the obvious increase of online news, coupled with the decline in newspaper sales, many journalists and media types are understandably worried about where the press industry is going, especially given the introduction, and failure to take off, of pay walls, which I will discuss in a later post.

I for one have been asked on several occasions why, given that the country is apparently in a recession, that there are no jobs around for graduates, and that papers are fast going out of business, London Lite being one of the main examples, why the hell I want to be a journalist in this day and age? My answer to them is that it’s my passion, my ambition, it’s what I’ve wanted to be since I was about 8, looking at whatever paper it is that my parents bought back then, not really knowing what was being said in them, but wanting to be just like the man who wrote the stories in the papers. Also I think I really wanted to be Clark Kent too..

Anyway, I digress, we’re steering away from the point here, which is that today I was a little shocked to read an article on the Guardian website which quotes from Ross Dawson, who is, according to the article, a futurist, which I can only imagine is like a modern-day version of Nostradamus who gets paid to analyse markets and tell the future, who claims that newspapers are going to come to an end very, very quickly. America will lose paper journalism within 7 years, Britain and Iceland two years after that, then Canada, Norway and Australia before 2022. However, some good news for budding journalists is that neither France nor Germany will lose newspapers for another 20 years or so.

Now this surprised me because I always knew that newspapers were going to come to an end eventually, but I think I’m one of a select few who actually enjoys reading a newspaper more than I do news online. However, online news is much easier, hence I am always checking online for news, whereas I unfortunately only read about 3 papers a week. Hopefully that will increase with my purchasing of the i, which, though still young in its production lifecycle, I am very much enjoying.

A quick scan of Dawson’s blog gives us a visual representation of when countries will lose their newspapers in a timeline. Now I’m not going to directly post that here, given that I have no idea about the copyright shitstorm that I may well incur if I did that, but what I will do is link to this blog article (here) and advise you to have a look at it, if you’re interested in this kinda thing, along with the Guardian article in question too (here).

If you’re not interested in this sort of thing, tell me! There’s a Comments section at the bottom. What would you like me to write about? Open forum time, ladies and gentlemen…

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A Step in the Right Direction?

As anyone who has ever travelled on the Tube in London will tell you, the lack of mobile phone coverage is really irritating, meaning that you have to end any conversations before you get to the ticket hall at most stations, and won’t resume coverage until pretty much street level.

Now it is completely understandable that there’s no signal on these trains; you’re underground, after all! But, mobile phones have been in mainstream use for most of this decade, and have been around for 30 years, surely this problem should be solved by now? Make-shift solutions have been banded about for years now it would seem, suggestions of all-encompassing, all-powerful signal boosters installed in the tunnels, or so-called ‘signal deflectors’ that are supposed to somehow bounce the coverage off each other, down the tunnels. I don’t understand how this would work, and I’m not going to pretend to. But the fact that people are making suggestions means that a solution could well be in the pipe-line.

Which brings me to the TFL wi-fi trial, in conjuction with BT Openzone, that was introduced yesterday, Monday 1st November 2010,  at Charing Cross tube station (Londonist report found here) which they report that, although only covering the ticket hall and platform levels, is apparently really good, with instant connection, and a fast one at that. I for one am very excited by the prospect, and if it means that, at some point in the future, Londoners can actually ride the tube with the ability to make a phone call, access their emails or even go on Facebook, then I’m definitely in. Changes are everywhere in the capital at the moment, the new Tube trains I spoke about in a previous post for example, and they are just going to increase between now and the Olympics, 18 very short months away. London is a very exciting place to live right now.

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Why I Hate X-Factor

Ok so I’m thinking I’ll jump on this bandwagon and just put it out there: what the hell does everyone enjoy about X Factor?? Seriously. Now I don’t watch it, so I’m not one to say “this person has no talent” or “that person’s pitch was awful” but from what little I’ve seen of it, along with a working knowledge of current affairs, it appears that for what seems like 8 months of the year, but is probably more like 3, no one will shut up about X Factor, and how this season‘s Jedward – Matt Cardle, so I‘m lead to believe – is really good-looking, and that Wagner or Cher Lloyd shouldn‘t be in the show still, for one reason or another. I honestly don’t give a shit, it’s great that you do, but don’t tell me about it.

 

Pop reality shows have been around since, what was the first one of this generation, Fame Academy? The one that David Sneddon won. And where the hell is he now? Apparently he tried to make it in America. Whether he did or not is another matter. As far as I can tell, anyone who wins these shows is going to have about 6 to 12 months of fame, and then either crash and burn, or go and “find themselves” for a couple of years and then come back. A quick search on Wikipedia gives me two cases in point; Leon Jackson, winner of X Factor ‘07, who was famous for about six months, then had the ignominy of one of his singles charting at number 94 in the Download Chart, and is now a singer-songwriter whose upcoming tour dates include a free concert in Balham, and Leona Lewis, who is a break from the norm of pop reality shows in that she actually has some talent, who won the ‘06 series of X Factor, releasing her first album before going to America whilst writing her second album and “finding herself” before coming back with her second album, and she seems to be going from strength to strength.

 

As far as I can tell with this show, for every JLS success story there’s a Shayne Ward or a G4, for every Olly Murs a Rhydian Roberts or Andy Abraham, ie every time one person or act excels and suggests that X Factor might not be all mass-produced bullshit aimed at the biggest market possible, a failure that still sells well comes through to enhance the point. Simon Cowell is the lynchpin of this mass-marketing shit storm, churning out hit after hit from his next no-name manufactured pop artist, and he doesn’t hide this fact at all. Quite the opposite, he embraces it, pulling the American market under his wing in American Idol, which is the same basic premise, with a little more talent, given the much larger pool he has to play in, with its success stories including Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks.

 

 

On the whole, the pop reality show really pisses me off. But that’s not just it. I hate it being forced upon me. I don’t want to hear about it. Why does society feel I need to know? If any of you guys disagree, or agree, or want to tell me I’m chatting complete shit, feel free to post in the Comments section below.

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Morrissey would be proud!

Those of you who know me will know that I’m not the biggest fan of Morrissey. I find his music repetitive, his whining nauseates me and many of the worst bands in the world cite The Smiths as one of their musical influences. However, I’m a sucker for innovation, and new ideas, and that is exactly what I’ve stumbled upon, on one of my Twitter trawls recently.

The Smiths Project, found here,  is an ambitious dream by one massive Smiths fan, Janice Whaley, to personally recreate what she calls “layered vocal arrangements” of every song of The Smiths’ back catalogue. She wants to have done this by the end of the year, a ridiculously hefty plan considering that allmusic.com claims that they have released 32 songs; she thinks that the actual figure is over double that, and that she is not using any instruments at all, only her voice and impressive editing techniques.

Janice herself is a music fan, having started with the piano at age 2 and never looking back – though why she likes The Smiths if she’s such a music fan I don’t know! – and even I can appreciate the astronomical task at hand, given that each song takes around 30 hours to produce, and her singing is actually pretty good, even if the subject matter is far from it!

What Janice has achieved, and is continuing to achieve, with The Smiths Project is a dream that’s fast approaching reality, a brainchild of a music lover that was undertaken to reconnect with her “inner musician,” and she is quickly developing a cult following that is sure to increase her following on social networking sites, which the article about her on the Guardian website earlier this week is no doubt helping.

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