Tech Reviews

Nokia DC-16 Portable Charger

When I went to the Olympic opening ceremony rehearsal I was pretty immobile due to being on crutches thanks to a broken foot. Therefore it was vital I could keep in contact with my family who were waiting for me at the end of the ceremony. I also knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I wanted to take as many pictures and videos as possible. My trusty Nokia Lumia 710 did the job… mainly.

Toward the end of the ceremony I have no videos at all because my phone ran out of charge. I wasn’t as upset about being unable to take anymore video as I was about being unable to contact my family and arrange a way to get home, even more annoying seeing as I couldn’t walk and Transport for London were using the event as a way to stress test the tube network, so it was a slow slog to get to the tube station and took over an hour to get onto a train. My family of course wouldn’t have known where I was and were worried. Fortunately through pure luck I managed to get on to the same connecting train as my family — the last train of the night in fact — so everything was O.K, but it was a close call!

That night I decided I would buy a portable charger to stop any such event happening again and ensuring that in the future I would always be connected to my loved ones and be able to take as much video and do as much photography, web browsing and other battery intensive tasks as I want! After some research I decided the Nokia DC-16 portable charger was the right device for me and ordered 2 – one for me and one for my mum.

Since I’ve had it I’ve used it a few times — it’s not something you’re going to use most days as my phone lasts around 14 hours with Wi-Fi on etc, even longer in battery saving mode — and each time I’ve been thankful I’ve had it. You never know where you’re gonna have to make or receive an important call or text or when you’ll see something you want to snap a photo of, and in much the same way you never know when a train delay is going to turn a 5 hour outing into a 12 hour nightmare. Its for this reason I always carry my DC-16 with me. 🙂

Thankfully I’ve found the DC-16 fits snugly into my Jeans pockets alongside my phone itself and it weighs almost nothing. When I get it out of my pocket to charge my device I find it’ll give it 2 or 3 full charges, so you could potentially go a few days charging just from the DC-16.

My favorite thing about the DC-16 however is its wide compatibility, its literally just a battery strapped to a USB. The cable that comes with it is a Micro-USB cable, the standard for all Smartphones — except iPhones. So just with that cable you can charge most phones. But if you really wanted you could just plug an apple charger into it and then have 100% compatibility. This just means that if you’re out and one of your friends phones runs out of charge you can help them out 🙂

I can’t recommend the DC-16 portable charger enough. 5 Stars.



The Olympic Opening Ceremony Rehearsal

I posted a while ago about #SaveTheSurprise – an entirely voluntary movement to keep people who attended the Olympic Opening Ceremony Rehearsal from spoiling the surprise for the millions of people who only a few days later would be watching it on TV or in the Olympic Park itself.

Not wanting to be a spoil sport I decided not to write a blog until after the actual ceremony had happened and then I sort of forgot about writing a post, until now! Besides, by now I’m sure everyone who wanted to see it has seen it 😉

Due to have an accident just a week before the rehearsal I was unfortunately bound to crutches for the entire event, but I would like to say that the Olympic Games Maker volunteers were absolutely fantastic and made everything as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for me 🙂

The ceremony started off slowly, with a rural scene of cricketers and men ploughing fields whilst women played with children and tended to vegetable patches. Not much actually happened, it was more of a thing to look at whilst people arrived to the Olympic Park, which by the way is one of the best stadiums I’ve ever seen, even nicer than the new Wembley in my opinion.

Every seat had attached to it what was known as a “pixel paddle” – essentially a very small, low resolution LED screen which – when used in conjunction with several hundred neighboring pixel paddles – could be used to display all sorts of animations using the entire stadium as a canvas! We were taught how to use the pixel paddles as part of the “audience training” before the ceremony began, a video of which you can see below!

Not long after this the pixel paddles were used to display a countdown to the beginning of the ceremony – counting up to 2012.

After this there was more crowd participation with people in my block and the one in the tier above working together to make a “Sea” using tarpaulin to complement a video about English life on the screens displaying our nautical heritage. Whilst this was going on the Pixel Paddles in other parts of the stadium were making a wave affect

Eventually we were welcomed to the “Games of the Thirtieth Olympiad” with the ringing of the Largest Bell in Europe and an announcement in French and then English. Many people seemed confused, almost offended, that all the announcements were in French first, however there is a reason for it. Whilst I was on holiday in Switzerland a few years ago we wen’t past the headquarters of the IOC – The International Olympic Committee – in Lausanne, which is a french speaking part of Switzerland.

The Rural scene continued for a few more minutes before, out of nowhere, drummers dressed in Industrial Revolution-esque clothing appeared behind the audience with drums, and started playing a tune I still can’t get out of my head! As they did this the Rural scene was dismantled and the village people left the scene!

As the Rural Scene disappeared another scene from British history took its place – The Industrial Revolution. The most interesting part of the transition was the sudden appearance of 6 massive chimneys from underneath the floor!

The people involved with the industrial revolution then started a parade around the outside of the scene whilst people in the middle of the scene could be seen forging iron and cleaning the chimneys. At the same time dancers in chinese style costumes could also been seen, obviously a tribute to the previous games in Beijing in 2008.

At the end of the parade some rings appeared in the sky above the stadium and slowly moved towards each other to form the Olympic Rings, they then lit up in fireworks and pyrotechnics, and then just as quickly as they showed up they were gone! This was one of my favorite bits of a fantastic show! 🙂

The Ceremony was designed by Danny Boyle to show off all the best parts of British culture and history, and what deserves celebration more than our National Health Service, in particular the world famous Great Ormand Street Hospital? The next scene of the show celebrated just that, depicting a scene of children in the final few seconds before they go to sleep in which they’re terrified of the night and have a nightmare. Evil characters included a giant Voldemort from Harry Potter – another Great British Institution.

On the tube home I met some of the performers involved with the Great Ormand Street scene and was told that the vast majority of the volunteers were actual NHS staff, some from as far away as Newcastle, who traveled down every few days for rehearsals. I can’t think of a better way to reward the hard work of the people involved in one of the best public services in the world — I also can’t think of more dedicated people than those who travel for 4+ hours to dance around for the Olympics! 😀

After the Great Ormand street hospital scene was cleared away a life size inflatable house appeared in the middle of the stadium, and a more solid house appeared near the grass mound to the right of where I was sitting. The inflatble house then had memorable moments from British Television and Music Videos displayed on it whilst British Pop and Rock Music was played and people danced with glow sticks. I particularly loved how much 70’s and 80’s punk rock and ska was played, including The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Specials — three of my favorite bands.

My phone ran out shortly after I took that last video so unfortunately I have no video of the finale of the opening ceremony, however I think the whole event was fantastic and really showed off what the British people can do. Even though at the rehearsal we didn’t have the live bands or the massive firework display of the real opening ceremony we were lucky enough to be the first people in the world to experience the £26 million show, along with its creator Danny Boyle, and its an experience I won’t forget.



The Olympic Torch Comes To Dunstable

Today the Olympic Torch came to my home town of Dunstable, for some reason it was scheduled for 7:30am — but it was well worth getting up for.

The first thing that came into sight were the Police motorbikes, to be fair all of the officers from Bedfordshire police looked genuinely happy and seemed helpful, even high-fiving people as they drove past and holding peoples babies for photos. After the bikes was an Olympics car and bus. The bus held about 10 back-up golden torches and some of the relay runners who were going to be running the torch later in the day.

The Olympic BMW
The Olympic BMW
The Olympic Bus containing Torches and Runners
The Olympic Bus containing Torches and Runners

Before you see the actual torch there is a precession of several vans from each of the relay sponsors – Coca Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB. To be honest it sort of annoys me that nothing can be pure nowadays and without an “official drink sponsor”, “official banking partner” etc., but I understand why it has to happen — these games aren’t cheap and to be honest neither is something as “simple” as a torch relay.

The First of the Sponsor Vehicles - Samsung
The First of the Sponsor Vehicles – Samsung
The Second Sponsor Vehicle - Coca Cola
The Second Sponsor Vehicle – Coca Cola
The First "Sighting" of the Flame ;)
The First “Sighting” of the Flame 😉
The Over Enthusiastic Women from Coca Cola "WE ARE COCA COLA"
The Over Enthusiastic Women from Coca Cola “WE ARE COCA COLA”
Finally The Last Sponsor Vehicle - Lloyd's TSB
Finally The Last Sponsor Vehicle – Lloyd’s TSB

You can see a lot of effort went into planning the whole thing, getting a big enough police presence and making sure everyone had fun, safely.

Police Motorcycle - He later went on to 'High 5' members of the crowd!
Police Motorcycle – He later went on to ‘High 5’ members of the crowd!

After all that we finally got our first glimpse of the torch itself with a runner who we were told was called Sarah.

The Olympic Torch - Dunstable - Sarah
The Olympic Torch – Dunstable – Sarah
The Olympic Torch - Dunstable - Sarah
The Olympic Torch – Dunstable – Sarah
And off she goes...
And off she goes…

Once the woman had gone past us my Dad and I ran through an area known as the Quadrant to get to the other main road in the town, just in time to see the torch handed over from Sarah to a man who was disabled from the neck down — it was quite an inspirational moment.

The Start of the Handover
The Start of the Handover
Handover - New Torch Being Lit
Handover – New Torch Being Lit
And we're off again!
And we’re off again!

And here is a video of the Torch being ran by the man

A thoroughly enjoyable day for all! I look forward to seeing the torch again soon as I was recently informed that thanks to my Olympics games maker interview I have been given a ticket to the rehearsal of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, which will be absolutely fascinating! I can’t wait!



Having Too Many Plans

I was just talking to my dad, in my room, about the sacking of Luton Town Football Clubs manager, Gary Brabin. As he was walking out he took a look at my Rebellion Ticket. Unfortunately it seems to date I was going to the Olympics is bang smack in the middle of the Rebellion Festival weekend.

I assume everybody knows what the Olympics is — lets be honest, it would be hard not to with the amount of advertising for it, and controversy surrounding it in the last few years — but many of you may not know what the Rebellion Festival is.

The Rebellion festival is an annual event at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool playing host to over 200 Punk and Alternative bands, for example last year the headline acts was The Adicts, this year the headliners are Rancid and Public Image Limited, who are headed by Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols Fame. It spans over 4 nights and has a special atmosphere I haven’t felt elsewhere, you can dress, dance and act how you want a no-one would bat an eyelid. It’s strange but great.

Seen how I’ve always been more into seeing bands than watching sports I think I’m going to go to go to Rebellion Festival instead of the Olympics, it’d be much more fun for me. I just hope I manage to get my Game Maker oppertunity so that I can still be involved with the Olympics this year 🙂

It’s a shame when things clash, but that’s life.


New Years Eve on Westminster Bridge

I think the above image sums up a great new years eve night in London! Yesterday the lovely Jess and I headed up to London for a day out followed by the amazing London New Years Eve Fireworks show. This years event was particularly special because its this year that London will be playing host to the Olympic Games.

During the day we visited Covent Garden and Camden Town and stocked up on supplies for the evening. After our dinner at Nandos near London Bridge Jess and I attempted to meet her friend Rachel, but this was somewhat difficult due to sheer scale of the event with literally millions of people in and around the city centre, It was hindered further by the multiple road and bridge closures which had to be made by P0lice for crowd control.

After giving up on the search and looking at several “Designated Viewing Areas” including behind The London Eye we found our way on to Westminster Bridge. This was arguably the best place to be in London as we had great views not only of the Thames and the London eye, but the “Big Ben” Clock tower on the Houses of Parliament as well. This year was the first time fireworks had ever been fired from the clock tower itself and it was incredibly impressive.

The Fireworks Kicked off as soon as Big Ben struck 12:00 Midnight and continued for a full twelve minutes with probably thousands of fireworks. The whole event lasted 5 hours, we found our place on Westminster Bridge around 10pm and only got back to our hotel at 3 due to the, understandably, overwhelmed public transport system, but we had a great time regardless and I’d definitely recommend that everyone does it at least once!

Below you can see more pictures of our outing including pictures of Jess and I trying on a Policeman’s helmet!