J Lou's Blog

Bold outbursts of communication…

What a night with “Date Night”

Date Night Poster

Date Night” directed by Shawn Levy, is a heart-warming, hilariously funny film that will have you in hysterics right from the beginning. The plot revolves around a boring couple Phil Foster (Steve Carell from “40 Year Old Virgin“) and Claire Foster (Tina Fey) from New Jersey, who are stuck in a marital rut. Their days consist of going to work and caring for their two children. However every Thursday evening they make time for each other, otherwise known as date night; going to the same restaurant and ordering the same food.  One date night, Phil decides to have a ‘spur of the moment’ concept to revitalise their marriage and the couple head into the city to try a new fancy restaurant ‘Claw’. The plot thickens as the couple cannot get a reservation and instead pretend to be couple that don’t turn up (the Triplehorns); this is where they night twists and the drama begins. They soon wish they were back to their boring lifestyle!

I must admit I’m making this summary sound rather uninteresting, however the comical genius and charismatic charm of Carell and Fey is enough to keep you seated, captivated  and ‘loling’ (laughing out loud) throughout. With an appearance from Will-I-Am and a somewhat strange almost pornographic dance from Carell and Fey in a strip club; you will no doubt be gasping for air with this outrageous comedy.

The Telegraph claimed “Levy has a lot of comic talent at his disposal and-mostly squanders it”. I personally think the Telegraph is wrong; Date Night is pure comic gold that will have you in stitches all night long. Carell and Fey continuously play off each other and the hectic combination of scenes keep the audience hooked. It is energetic, fast paced and erotically rude, including references to vagina’s and nipple clamps.  This is a definite must see!

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May 3, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , | Leave a comment

Website analysis: The Times Online

Screen shot of The Times Online

Kaushik (2007) noted the aim of a website is to “service your customers”. Within this analysis the Times Online website will be critically analysed in terms of its usefulness and benefit to its consumers; determining the website’s effectiveness through analytical aspects. 

Searchability 

Using Google and Yahoo, and entering the term ‘The Times Online’ or ‘Times’ the website is easily found. The site appeared as the highest ranked item, therefore has good searchability. 

Usability 

Jakob Nielsen (1993) defined Usability as “…a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use”. The Times Online site is technically stable, while navigating through the site the links work efficiently. However, one inconsistency of the usability factor is waiting for the site’s videos to load. 

Navigation 

Navigation tabs are marked horizontally at the top of the page and when clicked on each heading, subheadings emerge. A search engine is included and useful links to the most recent news on the main homepage are segmented into different areas; helping users navigate to specific articles. 

Design 

Chaffey, Ellis-Chadwick, Johnston, Mayer (2009) revealed “website designers…need to add persuasion…into the design”. The design uses a simplistic yet effective white background, combining lime green and blue colour codes throughout. A limitation is the site is almost too cluttered with numerous news stories, pictures and adverts. 

Content 

The Times Online is constantly updating the site with the latest news stories, therefore providing up to date information. The writing style for headlines are clear and concise, allowing users to examine listings and comprehend what each headline links too effortlessly. 

Video and Audio 

Walter (2008) denoted “audio and video are very desirable for users”. The site’s video tab is not clearly displayed; the tab is in the subheading under news. The videos take a while to upload, however do not need buffering. Yet when clicking on links for audio, a page is brought up with “HTTP 404 Not Found”. 

Interactivity and UGC 

Readers are encouraged to become increasingly interactive through Twitter, comments, blogs, online profiles and RSS feeds. The site allows users to create a strong community by commenting and posting their own opinions; whether they are in favour or disregard an article. 

The Times Online website does exert the elements of a successful website, maintaining good user loyalty and meeting customer requirements. However aspects of usability need to be re-addressed as this could ultimately deter users due to frustration of faulty links. 

May 3, 2010 Posted by | University Work | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dresses: this season’s must haves

Girls, let’s get one thing straight. We love to shop, we love to spend and we love to look good. So get your purses ready (or maybe daddy’s credit card) and let’s go shop surfing for this seasons must have dresses online. Spring/summer 2010 is all about patterns, prints, see-through and sheer fabrics and a dose of the ’80’s. Let’s face it, summer is approaching so drop those leggings/tights and get those pins out in some of these stunning numbers.    

Dress 1    

This glamorous, elegant and beautifully made dress is from French Connection. Now I must admit it is rather expensive (this is where daddy’s credit card would come in handy), at £170 I almost fainted but you cannot deny this is a good investment. The capped sleeved mini dress with sequins on the front panel will bring ultimate glam to any night out.    

French Connection: Graingers dress

Dress 2    

The flower panel dress with sweetheart detail is right on trend for this season. The combination of see-through black fabric and sweetheart pattern create a unique but girly look. The dress is from Topshop and is more reasonably priced at £50. Excellent, your (or your dad’s) bank balance in still in-tact.    

Topshop: Flower panel sweetheart dress

Dress 3   

A denim dress is a definite necessity for your wardrobe this spring/summer. For a quirky and individual take on the denim dress, Miss Selfridge offers this cream based floral print denim zip through front dress at £40. The neutral pastel palette create a feminine, pretty outfit ideal for a lunch date.   

Miss Selfridge: Cream floral corset dress

Dress 4   

For a va-va-voom sundress, this is a must have summer sizzler from ASOS. The use of bold colours and parrot prints create an 80’s look; bang on trend for this summer. If that doesn’t convince you, you can purchase this dress for only £30. Now that’s what I call a bargain!  

ASOS: Bright parrot frill hem sundress

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Fashion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Jeremy Kyle’ effect

The Jeremy Kyle show

 In recent years it has become obvious, that washing your dirty laundry in public (so to speak) is no longer considered a taboo within society. A Times Online article discussed how ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ was in fact one of Britain’s “most loved and talked about shows”. We the British public, seemed to love assessing and watching, what can only be the majority of the underclass, fighting, and verbally abusing each other over child paternity tests or adultery.  

We have reached, what should be acknowledged as the ‘Jeremy Kyle effect’ of family values. Britain seems to no longer pride itself with the sanctity of marriage; rather our sense of family values, which were once bestowed upon us religiously by societal influence, seem to be lost. Families no longer sit around a table for dinner, instead this element of primary socialisation has been replaced with trays in front of the telly (no doubt, watching repeats of Jeremy Kyle).  Carol Midgley’s article in the Times Online, denotes “the public’s lust for confessional, Jeremy Kyle-style shows was a way of trying to replace old-style neighbourhoods where people would gossip over the garden wall”. So have we always wanted to get the ‘up-to-date’ gossip on other individuals relationships? Britain most properly has, yet society was once discrete and rather more gracious concerning these matters.  

Headline: 'Can lie detector results save our marriage?'

The Guardian revealed the number of divorces peaked in 2003, at a staggering 153,176. However in recent years divorce rates have dropped, but is this due to not as many couples marrying in the first place? Experts have established this fall is related to the amount of people delaying marriage, therefore older couples are considered much wiser when it comes to relationships. Considering this factor, family life is more likely to be more stable in latter life. Stability is clearly not the case with the amount of teenagers appearing on the ‘Jeremy Kyle Show’. These teenagers can’t seem grasp the concept of monogamy; with such headlines including “Has my girlfriend had an affair with my uncle?”, I’ll let you think of words to describe that one.   

Clearly, our once prided, family and marital values have diminished amongst society. Maybe there ought to be a television show celebrating how families cope and marriages stay strong? However, to be honest there would hardly be any viewers worth mentioning compared to the popularity of the insidious drama that is Jeremy Kyle show.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Media, Society | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The fruit debate

Currently I am looking for an amazing, ultra-technical, practical yet stylish new phone out on the market. My phone contract is coming to an end, so I thought it was time to browse the retail deals going on at the moment. I must admit there is a wide variety of new phones available; from Nokia there is the 5800 XpressMusic and from Sony Ericsson the Xperia X10. But to be honest there was only two that I wanted to look at and they were the Blackberry 8900 Curve and the Apple IPhone 3GS. These were the top ‘celebs’ as you might call them, of the mobile phone world. No doubt you have heard of them, if you haven’t then I have to ask (in the nicest way possible) have you been living under a rock recently?  

The Blackberry and Apple IPhone war

But which fruit do I chose, the Blackberry or the Apple?  The Blackberry is durable, well-built and ideal for the business industry. Most of my university friends have a Blackberry and I know for a fact they could not live without it. So much so, one of my dear friends Leah Allen has blogged about her love of Blackberries. However IPhone users argue that the IPhone beats the Blackberry for many reasons; a wide variety of applications and games to download, sleek physical attributes and excellent personal use. The Apple IPhone is considered to be more of a luxury to have fun with, rather than being suitable for the business industry. Therere it may be more appealing and suitable for a younger generation. But still this does not answer my question, of which phone I should get, or (to put it better) which craze to follow. 

To be honest I think the Blackberry and Apple IPhone debate is just a popularity contest concerning the latest fashion trends of mobile phones. Mobile phones are no longer (ONLY) used to communicate by calling and texting, they are used to present fashion, hierarchy and prestige within our society. As I take my old LG Cookie out of my bag, however practical it is, I can’t help but feel embarrassed as through I have a brick in my hand. 

Personally I am not sure which phone I want or prefer; thinking to the future when (hopefully) I am in a good paying job, a Blackberry would be ideal. But to be honest I’d properly have both if I had the choice, but with a student budget I don’t think that’s going to happen!  Both phones offer a variety of features and technological advances that suit alternative needs, but which one do you prefer?  

April 11, 2010 Posted by | Fashion | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A short story- ‘Who am I?’

Short story writing

For the Professional Writing unit of my course, Communication and Media BA (Hons), we were required to write a 1,000 word short story. The short story could be about anything you desired, so here is my attempt.

      What could I have become? The next Marilyn Monroe, an explorer, an astronaut, or maybe just an average individual with an average job and an average lifestyle? Yet mine was not a life to live in. I had no future, no determined path, no being. Would my mother and father love me? Would I annoy them with childish behaviour? Would they laugh at my playfulness or would they be proud of my accomplishments in life? These are all questions I will never have answered. They too will never know who I am, what I am like or how I feel; these are the heart-rending thoughts my parents will have to deal with every hour, every day and every year for the remainder of their lives.

      I was meant to bring happiness to a family who had suffered greatly; suffered from the death of a loved one, suffered from money worries, suffered from abuse and dissatisfaction of a relationship. Would I have brought in contentment, warmth, fulfilling their lives with a new and exhilarating prospect? Or would I have heightened the worry, apprehension and pain in their lives? I’d hoped my family would have loved, cherished, treasured and appreciated my being. I would have returned this love and contentment, would have valued their opinions and decisions. The thought of being a part of a family, being included in a world where I can rely and depend upon advice, guidance and assistance when I most needed it, was only a thought I could dream about. Yet I hoped that, whether I was bullied in school, had boy troubles or was struggling with exams, I would know who to turn to, who to rely and depend upon.

“But, who am I?” I cried. I am nothing now.

      I was a limp, fragile and delicate body lying in the arms of my mother; blue, cold and unresponsive. Her hand carefully supported my comatose head; the other tenderly stroking my small check. Coldness shrouded her wishful hand; coldness which should have been warmth, love and excitement. A tear tickled from her inflamed, puffy eyes, once shining with anticipation and enthusiasm, now full of despair and misery. Despair and misery I knew was my fault, yet I could do nothing to alter this feeling of desolation. I only lay there in silence; unable to speak, unable to move, unable to feel the love from my mother. A type of love that only a mother and child can have with, yet this was stolen from me. My life was stolen from me.

I too could have taken my mother’s life.  My empty vessel could have destroyed not only my mother, but my family as well, my father, my grandparents. Would I have been considered a murderer? Would my father have blamed me?  Blamed me for the loss, if my mother had resulted in dying too. I cannot bear to think of these repercussions and aftermath. Yet these ramifications only result in more questions that are left unanswered for me. I can only assume, assume that my family would care for, adore and feel affection for me.

      I should have opened my delicate, fragile eyes to glowing smiles, ecstatic gestures and blissful thoughts. The thoughts of what the future may hold; brothers, sisters, university, even my own children. However these thoughts and hopes of contentment were no longer present.  Instead of being greeted with love and appreciation, I was greeted with death. Death which cloaked my diminutive, feeble wilted body.   I didn’t experience an adoring, warm and tender first moment with my mother.  In its place was my mother’s first moment with me, holding a limp, lifeless body in her arms. My unconscious, motionless corpse should have been a living, healthy baby. A baby whose precious heartbeat was considered the most valuable, beloved and dear prize a family could have been given. My expectations, hopes and dreams and what I hoped my mother would have felt, were truly deceased and shattered. My life had departed.

“But who would I have become? I can never know”.

      My tiny, miniature hands and feet were used to make impressions into a mould; used to sustain a memory, memories of hope, optimism and prospect. My fingers  were spread to mark my existence, my being. My life may have been abruptly taken, but my soul and body still are present. Does this mean my mother wanted to preserve my memory? Does she truly, deeply love me, even though I only lay without a response? I only hope, wish, long that I have not caused too much hurt, too much pain, too much anguish.  The type of anguish that I can never forget;  for my soul can never forget the ache I have had to endure; leaving my life, leaving my family, leaving only hand and footprints for a memory. Photographs capturing my life beyond this time, will never exist. My childhood, adolescent and adulthood will only be ‘what could have been’; my person, self and personality will never be known.

      I wanted to know how my father would have reacted to holding my cold, detached, inert body. Would he have touched my hand, in hope of warmth, felt my chest, in hope of a faint heartbeat? Would he have done anything to save me? Save his daughter?  I wish he had done. I wish he had saved me, but I am to blame for my death. My body could not cope; my body let me down, let my mother and father down.  Now I am only a soul, a spirit of a child that had no being, no determined path.

      Did my soul escape my body for a reason? Was this a life that was not meant to be lived? I do not know.  Was my fate destined for doom so that death was an escape; a lesser of two evils? I can never know. My only wish is for my parents to understand that I am a life, a life that will always remain in their hearts, footprints that are left in their memories. 

“But what am I? I am stillborn”.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | University Work | , , | Leave a comment

And we have ‘Lift Off’…

Bracknell Forest Council organised a dance festival, ‘Lift Off’, from Friday 12th March to Sunday 4th April 2010, to present  Bracknell’s finest dancers. My dear friend, Ashley Walters, was one of the dancers included, with her dance crew Vanquish. The dance event, Youth and Community Dance Platform, took place at South Hill Park, Bracknell, Saturday 13th March. I followed the Vanquish Dance Company on the day of their performance for ‘Lift Off’, capturing their amazing ability, sleek timing and fluent movements.

Here is the programme of the "Youth and Community Dance Gala"

Dan Little, dance choreographer and presenter, founded the Vanquish Dance Company in 2007, Reading, with the assistance of Kirsty Armstrong and Kirsten Jadine. To begin with, Vanquish aimed to train local amateur, non-trained dancers, now they perform across the UK. Performances have included the Aspire Showcase, 2009, and they will be performing at Wokingham Winter Carnival Festival this year. The dancers exert intense energy and creativity with an innovative new style. They perform a range of diverse choreography and performance styles, including urban, contemporary and hip hop. Here I have captured many shots of the Vanquish crews’ dedication, swagger and originality, within their rehearsals for their dance performance “Music for the Eye”.

The Vanquish Crew

Vanquish's technical run

Rehearsals

Rehearsals in the 'V' formation

Checking timing of the dance rehearsal

Rehersing Again

Changes in levels

Moving into next section of the routine

Quick movement section

The jump

Practising the lift

The contemporary section

Here is a short clip of Vanquish’s rehearsal, this section was choreographed by the lovely Ashley Walters. Enjoy!

Vanquish before the performance. V's up!

Me and the Vanquish Crew!

Their performance on the night was astounding, every movement precise and perfect; receiving the loudest applause from the audience. I would just like to say a big thank you to Vanquish, for letting me be apart of their day.

Finally, I have one last thing to say… V’s UP for Vanquish!

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To straighten or not to straighten? That is the question…

Model advertising straighteners

 As I sit here in my living room with no make up on and “un-straightened” hair,  I have begun to notice that I feel strangely uncomfortable and very aware of my lack glamour. I have no one to impress, I am not going out anyway, yet I have this feeling of ‘ugliness’ and the urge to hide away. Even though most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid at seeing me in this state (well I hope) and I know it doesn’t alter the person that I am. But even with these thoughts in mind I still uphold this insecure feeling, almost as though I was standing naked in a field and everyone laughing at me.  

 Is the reason for this due to peer influence, magazines such as ‘Vogue’,  television or all elements of the media? Personally I’m going with the thought that it is because of the media. Girls in today’s society have the constant need to ‘doll’ themselves up,  to be thin, and groomed.  We are bombarded with models in magazines, how celebrities are stigmatised for putting on weight but congratulated when they lose weight and woman in music videos. Now thinking about it I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman bigger than a size 10 in music videos. It is even becoming apparent that younger girls are now having to deal with these insecurities too, rather than like i use to, run about in park getting messy and not caring that I had “un-straigtened” hair.    

It was only the other day, when I was watching ‘What Katie did next?’ with Katie Price (aka Jordan), that I realised how extreme the importance of looks had become, in particular with Katie’s daughter Princess Tiaamii. Katie Price seemed to think it was acceptable to straighten a 2 year old’s curly hair.   

Princess Tiaamii with straightened hair

The gorgeous little girl is soon to grow up with insecurities if she is put into the environment where perfection is the ideal. Katie Price had too put make-up and fake eyelashes on the two-year old. Personally I think this is disgusting behaviour of a mother! I’ve never not like Katie Price, I’ve always admired her for being a strong independent women who does well to deal with the press and publicity, yet she has taken beauty too far with her daughter. If this is what young girls are being shown no wonder girls have such low body image perceptions. It sickens me to admit that I am one of those girls; I could never leave the house without a face of make up and straighten hair. Am I as bad as Katie Price? Maybe not, yet it seems society may be moving into the direction that beauty is determined by how you look not who you are.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Media, Society | , , , , | Leave a comment

Q & A: Hannah Jackson, this is your life

The lovely Hannah Jackson

Hannah Jackson: (pictured right) is a second year student at Bournemouth University, studying Communication and Media BA (Hons). A quick Q & A interview reveals her lifestyle as a student, family life and what she intends to do in the future.

Me: Where did you grow up?

Hannah: I was born in Ireland and lived there for a year, but then moved due to my dad’s job. I then moved to Billericay in Essex, for another year, then moved to Chelmsford. I was about ten, I think.

Me: Did you always want to go to university?

Hannah: Yea, I’ve always wanted to go to university, because I want a good job.

Me: Did you always want to go to Bournemouth University?

Hannah: Yea, even though I did look around at other universities, none of them where as good compared to Bournemouth. As soon as I walked around the campus I knew this was the university for me.

Me: What made you choose Communication and Media BA (Hons)?

Hannah: I knew I always wanted to do something with the media, but wasn’t sure what sector I wanted to go into. I did want to do journalism at first, but then changed my mind and thought this course would offer a wide range of choices for future jobs.

Me: Did you take a gap year?

Hannah: No I didn’t,  because I knew if I took a year out I would never return to education.

Me: Do you want to go travelling?

Hannah: I want to go travelling after I graduate. I was thinking of travelling either to America or Europe, or maybe even both.

Me: What has been your favourite holiday then?

Hannah: I think I would have to say going on holiday to Zante, with the girls from my sixth form. We had just turned 18 and wanted to go wild. Also would have to be when I went to Jamaica with my family. It was amazing because it was the first time in ages we have had a family holiday.

Me: Are you a family orientated person?

Hannah: Yea, since my sisters moved out and I’ve been at university I appreciate seeing them more and realise how much I miss them.

Me: When you graduate what would you want to do?

Hannah: I’d loved to work for Heat magazine, or in PR. I was thinking maybe to do with fashion as fashion is one of my main hobbies.

Me: What other hobbies do you have?

Hannah: Well dancing, going out, socialising and music. The main sort of music I like is hip hop and R’n’B.

Me: How long have you been dancing for?

Hannah: I’ve been dancing since I was about 7 and I have done modern, tap and ballet. Currently I’m attending a commercial street dance class at Bournemouth University.

Me: Finally, has your experience (so far) of Bournemouth University been enjoyable?

Hannah: Definitely, I love the night life and the university itself. Everyday is different and I’ve met some amazing friends here.

February 18, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Timeline: history of social networking websites

Social networking has become increasingly popular in recent years, with the introduction of websites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Most individuals can now access each other all over the world, simply through using these social networking sites. Craze’s and trends have led these sites to become the new online ‘fashion’, especially amongst the younger generations.

Here is a timeline detailing how these social networking sites have elated:

1995: Classmates.com was created by Randy Conrads, which helped members find old friends and acquaintances from primary school, secondary school, college etc.

1997: Sixdegrees.com was based on the Web of Contacts model, users could keep in contact with friends and families within their first, second and third degrees. Also finding their connection to any other members on the site.

2002: Friendster was introduced by Johnathan Abrams and Cris Emmauel, to allow members to contact each other and maintain those social contacts. The social networking site was also used for dating, new events, bands and hobbies.

2003: Hi5 was founded by Ramu Yalamanchi. The site operates an online profile for users, showing their interests, age, and profile picture. Users can post comments on others.

2003MySpace became the most popular social networking website within 2006, whereby users could create an online profile through html. Members could reveal their emotions, hobbies, interest, music interests, post blogs and comment other members profile. MySpace however was overtaken by Facebook with its popularity in 2008, now MySpace is now mainly used by bands and music lovers.

MySpace logo

2004: Facebook was created by a Harvard University student, Mark Zuckerberg and his room mates. Facebook provides members with an online profile, whereby you can upload photo albums, update status’, add friends, post messages, create events and groups, and join networks, such as the cities you live in. Facebook has become increasingly popular, in January 2009 Compete.com ranked Facebook the most used social network used globally.

Facebook logo

2005: Bebo (Blog early, blog often) created to provide users with a profile whereby members can comment and leave messages on friends, families and acquaintances profiles. Younger generations generally use Bebo, whereby they can post blogs, complete their friends polls and post music videos which reflect their music interest.

2006: Twitter is a relatively new social networking and “microblogging” site, where members can post and read 140 word messages. These messages are known as tweets. Members can follow each other, and keep up to date with each other. Celebrities, such as Katie Price and Peter Andre, use this social networking site so fans can follow them on a more personal level and can gain an insight into their lifestyles.

Twitter logo

2010: Googlebuzz is the latest of the social networking sites. Google designed this social integration site in competition with Facebook and MySpace. Googlebuzz is a messaging device, created by google through using gmail. Users can share messages, get involved in threads, upload pictures and videos.

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Media, University Work | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment