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Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant physicians of his age. He was the founder of modern quantum theory and made Einstein's works far more understandable. He even won a Nobel prize for physics. It is a wonder that he is not very well known nowadays. He wrote this book for those starting an interest in physics and attempted to make it as accessible as possible. Did it work?
Yes, it did. Richard Feynman is an utterly brilliant explainer. In this book he explains six fundamentals of physics:
- Atoms in motion
- Basic physics
- The relation of physics to other sciences
- Conservation of Energy
- The Theory of Gravitation
- Quantum Behaviour
The book is a text version of six lectures he gave at the California Institute of Technology. Because of this, the tone of the book is relatively informal; this makes it much easier to read. His own diagrams are also included, which adds another, easier to grasp side of the book. Although he can have a tendency to over analyse and complicate a few ideas, he does explain very effectively.
The best chapter of the book is the last, on quantum behaviour. As it is written by a pioneer of the subject, the teachings are extremely well understood- you can tell that it's coming from a real expert.
Overall, an absolutely essential read- puts complex physics into leymens' terms.
If you have never heard of Sennheiser, but don't be put off by their lack of publicity- because they are an earphone/ headphone specialist company. They can (occasionally) produce some really high quality sound. And at £17 these earphones are nice and cheap.
As with all speakers, I tested them over five tracks of varying audio: classical, spoken word, pop, metal and electronic- these provide a good range of pitch types and dynamic changes. These earphones were absolutely great, considering that they were only £17- they are mind- blowingly good value. The classical piece really proved how stunning the bass was through the Sennheiser technology.
So the sound quality is great for the price, what about the design?
These earphones come with two choices of soft earpieces, one large and one small, I opted for the larger to suit my freakishly huge ears and they were (as expected) extremely comfortable. These earpieces also attenuate a reasonable amount of background noise, so for those of you in loud environments, I would recommend these. The aesthetic design is average, but not off- putting.
If you are (as many may be) put off by the low price, there is a reason. General electronics companies such as Sony and Bose have such a good reputation, they can charge extortionate prices for their audio devices. Meanwhile, specialists like Sennheiser are forced to sell at a much lower cost to compensate for this.
What I am trying to say is this:
Sony earphones costing £40 = Sennheiser earphones costing £17
So with these, you can be sure for value for money.
We rarely stop and evaluate the attributes of money, but at some point, we should ask ourselves why we spend our who time devoted to getting the stuff. The main reasons are obvious- why use them to buy goods in order to live, but after analysis, money is technically worthless, allow me to explain.
I believe it was Richard Feynman who said: "There are two kinds of job in this world: one involves taking things out of the earth, the other involves telling other people to take things out of the earth. One is badly paid and unpleasant, the other is well paid and very pleasant."
He had a very good point- this does devalue money slightly, as it is arguable that it rewards the wrong people, but that's not why it's worthless.
Money was anciently designed to make everybody's skills worth something. In the days where trading good for other goods, some bright spark came up with the idea that he could create a new 'good', something which would be universal. He came up with money, a very cheap thing to obtain, which represented a chance to but other goods. Although it could not be used itself, it was accepted that it would be set at certain costs for different goods. The idea itself is utter genius, but its future implications are terrible.
Nowadays, money is king. Money is now power, rather than a simple go-between. Especially today, where we suddenly realised that we've been using imaginary money to use the banks (a new-fangled idea- you can store money in these), now we've fallen through our fake grounds of cash.
I remember when the first rumours started about the 'BBC on demand' service, which would allow people to watch TV programmes seven days after they are aired. I also remember what was made of it on Have I Got News for You?, where it was described like "having video taped which self destruct after seven days". Although it was a fair point, the BBC's iPlayer is by far the best part of the (very good) BBC website.
Why use it?
Firstly, as a human, you do not have the time to watch every single TV programme you wish. So the BBC made a new, innovative service which would allow licence fee payers to watch their favourite programmes when they feel like it. You can either watch the shows by streaming them online, or you can download them (in a higher quality) to watch later. Not only are BBC shows in general of a very high standard, but the video and audio quality are also very good, on both the stream and the download services.
Recently, a new version of the BBC iPlayer downloader was released, now 1/2 hour programmes take just 10 mins to download on a broadband connection- very quick.
Overall, this is one of the great things about the BBC, and, indeed, this country.
Well, Twitter is certainly the new Marmite of the internet world. You either avidly love it, or you passionately hate it. There are the two opposed views, but which is better- let me try and find out. Please bear in mind that I do use twitter, so I will not be fully neutral, but I will try.
A quick description (thanks to wiki) here:
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers).
Those who are for twitter make the case that it is a new and innovative micro blogging service which anyone can use. You could use it for keeping up with friends, or seeing what your favourite celebrities are up to.
Do I agree? Well, yes and no.
Firstly, I do think that it is a good way of keeping up with your friends, the 140 character limit does make it very easy to see what their up to, without having charlatans clog up your feed. Some say how people just put silly, trivial things such as what you had for dinner and other mundane activities. But this isn't a complaint about twitter as much, more some users abuse of it.
Secondly, in terms of celebrity tweeters, as fun as it is to see what they're doing, it turns out that some people develop unhealthy obsessions. This can be annoying, but can very easily be ignored.
Another advantage of twitter: Stephen Fry.
Usually slated by the facebook brigade, twitter gets its fair share of hate mail.
Those who insult it often give it a bad name for the following reasons:
- Twitter is self indulgent- you seem to love yourself when on twitter
Well, not quite, Twitter is simply whatever you make of it, that's its beauty. Some people may be very arrogant, but this would not go for the majority of users, not at all.
- Twitter is trivial, with updates of no importance
No. Again, just because some people take the question 'What are you doing?' far too literally does not mean that everyone updates about going o bed.
- Twitter is just a novelty
For some, yes, but for others, it is a very fun site which will last a long time.
- Why bother, there's always facebook?
Twitter has what's called an open API. This means that all kinds of platforms can use twitter, from your phone to your cat flap (true story). It also means that some websites have arisen which produce odd stats and visual masterpieces based on twitter pages. Facebook is JUST a website, twitter is much more.
What about me?
Well, despite having a large crowd probably hate me for it, I'll stick with twitter. It brings friends close (and my enemies closer).
I saw little in these headphones, they just seemed like another average AKG style, non important earphones. There is little different (or new) about them apart from their colours and their weight. Firstly (and most importantly), the sound quality- what do you get for £30?
As with all speakers, I tested them over five tracks of varying audio: classical, spoken word, pop, metal and electronic- these provide a good range of pitch types and dynamic changes. These earphones were not exception by any standards. The product description states that it holds sound which few headphones can match. This isn't really true, there are hundreds of earphones on the market with the same, average sound quality as these guys.
At £30, the price is relatively average, and you get average sound quality from them. Overall, I was not impressed at all; but neither was I disappointed.
Yes, the design is good, with a choice between grey and sliver or yellow and black (pictured). The weight is also very light- surprisingly so. But I do not think that weight is a factor many people would take into account with headphones.
There are three main appeals of Firefox:
1) It is faster and more secure than IE7 (and IE8)
2) Firefox sports the incredible library of add ons for you to choose
3) Getting Firefox shows that you are an informed internet browser, not just sticking with what you're given.
Sadly, I don't think Firefox, in todays 'browser battle' market has kept these appeals.
1) Yes, it is faster and more secure than IE. It has some of the most advanced safety tools of any browser. Annoyingly, it claims to be the fastest and the most secure of ANY browsers out there. This is wrong. Firstly, Google Chrome is by far faster than Firefox (and, indeed, any browser)- my own tests even confirm this. Secondly, Apple's safari has the security advantage over Firefox (arguably, so does Chrome)- so these two appeals are slightly diminished.
You may say that Firefox has the 'best of both', but it really does not. It may be faster than the sluggish IE, but that is really not an achievement.
2) The add ons are admittedly occasionally useful. Sadly, they use up precious memory space and decrease the speed of the browser as a whole. Yes, there is a simple way to download flash videos, or update your twitter status, but there are other ways to do this. Compare this to chrome, a browser with no add ons- it is much faster and much more streamlined.
'Ah-ha', you may say- 'Chrome doesn't have some of the features which Firefox has then, does it?'. Well, yes, it can. With small, utility bookmarks, called bookmarklets, you can perform most of the actions add ons provide, without wasting memory space.
3) Partially for the above reasons, having Firefox does not show that you are very well informed. I'm not telling you to get rid of Firefox, but you should definitely try other browsers before you make your decision. Other browsers have new methods of processing, while almost invisible, greatly improve the performance, not only of the browser, but of your computer, too.
I was admittedly excited when Bose released their new premium noise cancelling headphones, so I thought I'd give them a go.
As with all speakers, I tested them over five tracks of varying audio: classical, spoken word, pop, metal and electronic- these provide a good range of pitch types and dynamic changes. These headphones were exception, as I expected from Bose. The classical track gave the great bass and treble response I expected and I was delighted with the quality of the spoken word track. The other tracks were good as well.
Design and Noise Cancelling:
The first thing I noticed when I put these on was the extraordinary comfort they provided, it almost felt like there was nothing on my ears at all! So if you are looking for the most comfortable headphones on the market, look no further than here.
The second thing I noticed when I put these headphones on was the isolation from the outside noises. "Wow", I thought, "This is great noise cancelling". Then I realised that I had not even turned noise cancelling on! Then, I really did have a shock. The best sound came to my ears- silence, absolute silence. Then I played the music while only hearing the audio- this is much more pleasant than without noise cancelling.
Sadly, this technology comes with two downfalls:
1) This requires a lot of power to cancel out noise, so batteries are used. Bose say the total battery life (per AAA battery) is 35 hours, so this is long enough.
2) The price. At £115 this isn't too cheap either, but it is cheaper than some other similar headphones- so don't be too put off.
I'm a bit of an internet addict, so these are my top ten website nd probable my top ten most visited.
10. DooYoo (http://dooyoo.co.uk)
I'm sure you know what DooYoo is, no need to explain it. But I like the site not only for the money aspect, but the reviews are far more useful than any other website.
9. Picture is Unrelated (http://pictureisunrelated.com)
A little- known website which glorifies all of the world's most weird and indescribable pictures and videos. Gems include an American teenager in a tuxedo by a UPS truck crash into a river while holding a sowing machine.
8. Fail Blog (http://failblog.org/)
You have probably seen or head of this website. It makes you life seem just that little bit better, although it has started an irritating plethora of people shouting FAIL all too often.
7. The Onion (http://www.theonion.com)
The fake news source has been running for a long time now, and is considered as an internet comedy veteran. Every day a few silly one- liner headlines appear with a very comprehensive report on articles like 'God Angrily Clarifies "Don't Kill" Rule'.
6. YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/)
You are living in a very deep hole is haven't been on YouTube, no need to review it here.
5. Twitter (http://twitter.com/)
If you don't know, twitter is a new social networking website consisting of 140 character updates from individuals answering the question "What are you doing?". It is also a way of seeing what popular opinions are with trending topics- phrases which many people are using at the time.
4. Facebook (http://www.facebook.com)
The top social networking site. Very easy to use but sadly the overcooking of applications has detracted from its simplicity.
3. BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/)
See my full review at http://bit.ly/1fQLp . Should be anyone's first stop for neutral news.
2. BBC iPlayer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer)
Although strictly speaking this is part of the BBC's website, it is extensive enough to be counted as a separate site. A truly brilliant service allowing UK viewers to see almost all BBC shows again online.
1. Google (http://www.google.co.uk/)
Much more than just a search engine. A mail client, a book searcher, and with its labs section, it shows you the new possibilities of the internet. By far the king of the internet.
I am an utter dork, I have read non- fiction almost constantly for the last few years. So I have now got a top ten of favourites.
10. 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' by Bill Bryson
A wonderfully original book covering (nearly) all fundamental aspects of ancient and modern science, a pleasure to read.
9. Roget's Thesaurus
Strictly speaking this is a reference book, but then again it is not fictitious! The only thesaurus you will ever need, incredibly comprehensive. Although its indexed system can be a bit odd, you will soon get to grips with this.
8. How to Take a Penalty by Rob Eastaway and John Haigh
A book about the more complex mathematics of sports. Presented is a visually pleasing way with helpful illustrations. It is written in an informal manner and has a good few 'did you know?' facts inside
7. Infinity in Your Pocket by Mike Flynn
A compact book filled with almost every formula you can think of in maths, physics and chemistry. It also has some very useful definitions, such as a centimeter and a kilogram. This book also delves into the more complex sides of maths such as topology and chaos theory.
6. Does Anything Eat Wasps? by New Scientist
A fantastic compilations of weird and wonderful questions put to the readers of New Scientist. Some brilliant questions are tackled: "Does beheading hurt?" is a personal favourite of mine.
5. Can a Robot be Human? by Peter Cave
A simple introduction to philosophy through the means of paradoxes. Reading this will give most people a headache, but it is very interesting nonetheless.
4. The Book of Answers by The New York Public Library
Similar to 'Does Anything Eat Wasps?', this book compiles the most common, the most weird and the most intriguing questions put to the New York Public Library. Some classics like: "What are the seven wonders of the world?" and really obscure trivia are included.
3. The QI Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
This book is based on the hugely popular BBC TV show QI with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies
This is the ultimate 'Did you know' book, some of the facts in here are simply outstanding. The foreword by Stephen Fry and the four words by Alan Davies are very good features. The book is composed of questions you think you know the answers to, but it turns out that you've been under a common misconception all these years. With the informal tone it is also very readable.
2. Six Not-So-Easy-Pieces by Richard Feynman
Richard Feynman is by far one of the greatest scientific writers of the 20th century. In this book he explains six very complex theoretical physical concepts in a surprisingly appealing way. His tone is not too serious, but he writes concisely and does not repeat much. His own diagrams help explain some of the more confusing sections.
1. Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman
Feynman again. This book is the simpler version of the book above. It explains six of the fundamental aspects of physics. Feynman has a wonderful knack for showing the relations of physics to other sciences and presents the information in a very readable way.
I would strongly recommend all of the above books, especially the last three.
Channel 4 have always been a forefront of good new comedies, and in 2000, Black Books was first broadcast. Since then it has won two BAFTAs for best situation comedy.
The show depicts a misanthropic book shop owner, Bernard (Dylan Moran), as he sardonically insult all humans except his only friend, Fran (Tamsin Greig). In the first episode, Manny (Bill Bailey) gets sacked from the job he hates and ends up getting a job as an assistant in the shop.
Dylan Moran is very well cast as Bernard, the eccentric, half- crazed man, with little life beyond cigarettes and alcohol. Bill Bailey is just as funny as his stand- up, playing a down- to- earth character trying to keep Bernard from going fully insane. Tamsin Greig plays the quirky friend of Bernard very well, drifting from the drinking buddy type to the bored middle- aged woman type.
The comedy is a mix of surreal, farcical and the depiction of Bernard's nihilistic outlook on life. Overall, this is a very funny and easily watchable comedy show which was definitely underrated.
These are a pair of reasonably priced AKG headphones at £85. The design is something good to look at, and as AKG is the manufacturer, you can expect good sound quality.
As with all speakers, I tested them over five tracks of varying audio: classical, spoken word, pop, metal and electronic- these provide a good range of pitch types and dynamic changes. These headphones really pleased me. The bass truly drove through in a beautiful way on the classical track, a fitting description would be 'music to my ears', but that seems a bit obvious. The depth of the music was brilliant. The spoken word was perfect; not distorted in any way whatsoever. The remaining tracks were well above average sound quality.
I must say that while these headphones have a great sound quality, they are not the best. Going beyond this is the territory of Bose and Sony, but for this price, I think this is about the best you can find.
These headphones lie very nicely onto your ears with the surprisingly comfy padding which is surrounding the speakers. The set is a little on the heavy side, so if you want to exercise your neck I would recommend these. The cable is 1.2 metres and they work on a 3.5 mm audio jack (this will work with iPods)
Overall, these are a pair of very good value headphones at £85 and should be a good introduction to great sound quality.
David Mitchell and Robert Webb are easily the best comedy duo in the UK at the moment. This is the complete box set original and hilarious new comedy 'Peep Show'.
What's it About?
The show follows the reasonably uneventful lives of Mark (David Mitchell) and Jeremy (Robert Webb), two flatmates living in Croydon. Mark is a loan manager at the fiction JLB enterprise, working under the slightly insane Johnson (Paterson Joseph), who he jumps through various hoops for. Jeremy, however, is a wannabe musician not willing to accept his failures in his life.
Is it Good?
Yes, very good. It has been given numerous awards including BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards. It is a single camera show, this gives us the sense that we are part of the characters' lives. The thought processes are also voiced over the action- Mark's thoughts are particularly hilarious. They wonderfully depict the British uncertainty and embarrassment in a very accurate way.
The comedy is observational, farcical and can often rely on the cringe factor. The balance of these is excellent, making this a truly great British comedy.
Apple are undoubtedly one of the greatest electronics companies ever to have existed, so surely they make good earphones? The design is nice, they are included with (very expensive) iPods and everyone uses them- so they must be the best.
If you think that these are good quality earphones, you are wrong, very wrong.
What Apple have skillfully done is make a pair of earphones which are must- haves. They are not just earphones but a fashion statement of technology, a sign that you have an iPod (also a cry to be mugged). Oddly, people have not realised the world of great quality headphones out there.
If these are the only earphones you have ever used for your iPod, you should definitely consider getting replacements, you will be amazed at what a difference earphones can make.
The sound quality on these are very poor. Even considering the lowest price at £15, these are still not worth buying. The bass is very weak, even with a 'bass boost' EQ on your iPod; the treble is even weaker, spoken word tracks sound soft- with no edge to them. And in songs with quick pitch changes, you receive a dreadful bit crackling sound- not good at all.
As for alternatives for these earphones I have two suggestions. They both work on a 3.5 mm audio jack, so it will be compatible with your iPod.
Firstly, a very cheap alternative: Creative EP-830 (http://bit.ly/HdpLk). These are great quality earphones for less than the price of Apple's.
Secondly, a truly awesome pair of earphones: Sony MDR EX700LP (http://bit.ly/vaN0w). These are, in my opinion, the best earphones on the market. They are £131, but don't let that put you off, it will be a great liberation from these earphones.
Monty Python's Flying Circus has gone down in international comedy history as one of the greatest comedy shows ever. It is no wonder that the Pythons decided to make a series of films. This 6 DVD set consists of four films: 'And Now for Something Completely Different' (one disc); 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' (two discs); 'Life of Brian' (one disc)and 'The Meaning of Life' (two discs).
And Now for Something Completely Different:
This is not so much a film, but a compilation of the Pythons' greatest sketches remade for the big screen. The film opens extremely slowly, with a fake sketch where the cinema operator put the wrong reel in, etc. This would have worked in the cinema, but is a little odd on a TV screen.
This film treats us to the Pythons' ability to make fast routines and parody themselves. The volume of self- flagellation is very funny as they take a cynical view on themselves. What better way to have a scene change than John Cleese in a bra? Although this film does not have a story line as such, the number of sketches and the infamous animation make it a good watch.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
This is my personal favourite of all the films. This was the Pythons first true film- with a plot. This is a parody of the story of the knights of the round table and was extremely low- budget. Although using coconuts instead of real horses seems funny, it was actually used to cut down on the cost of the film. But its cost is not a hindrance, it's actually an asset. The cheap effects and inconsistencies just make the film more enjoyable.
Again the Pythons' view on themselves appears- half way through the film there is an argument over whose sketch was the best; a great interlude from reality. The comedy in this film is essentially of surreal, juvenile, intellectual and anti-climaxes.
This film hosts some very memorable scenes, such as the killer rabbit and the black knight. Certainly one of the greatest comedy films ever made.
Life of Brian:
This is regarded by most as a definitive comedy film. It certainly wasn't without controversy, though. Before its release there was uproar from the Christian Church due to its depiction of Christ through an ordinary bloke- Brian. The film follows a man who all his life is mistaken for Jesus, with some horrible consequences. This is certainly a classic, but does not have the humble feel that the previous films did. This does detract slightly from the Pythons' appeal. Nonetheless, this is still a great film with some really classic scenes. Always look on the bright side of life...
The Meaning of Life:
This is the Pythons' epilogue for their film series- a parody of all things philosophical. This reminds me of the works of Douglas Adams, a great comedian and his works like 'A Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. The film follows the stages of life of a human, from conception to death. This film only has one really memorable scene- Mr Creosote- a very funny farce sketch with some... interesting effects. In my opinion, this is the weakest of the series, but still is a very good film.
Overall, it is well worth having these classic films in your collection. You'll find yourself laughing uncontrollably.