Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Blogging events

The one with the 41mp camera phone

Penguins!I don’t think blogging events come much better; free entrance to London zoo, lady of the manor and little monsters invited too, food and drink, a chance to meet reindeer and the icing on the cake a free phone. Unsurprisingly this was an event I said yes to very quickly both for the chance for a great family day out but also to have a play with a phone I’ve been curious about for a while.

Some of you know that I work in the tech industry, so Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are things I hear a lot about but have never had a proper chance to actually play with. If you follow the tech industry at all you’ll know that this latest version of Windows hasn’t had the greatest reviews but I’ve always wondered if that’s simply because the testers aren’t used to a system that relies on touch so much.

Once the lady of the manor was settled at the event with the children and a whole pile of toys we were given an overview of Windows 8 and handed a very bright and yellow Nokia Lumia 1020. Not my personal choice in colour but actually quite nice using a handset that wasn’t simply another ‘me too’ device. It looks and feels very different from an iPhone that’s for sure.

Having had a Windows phone now for a couple of weeks I’m going to sit on the fence a little and say I’m still undecided. It’s such a different design to Android and iOS (which let’s be honest are essentially the same) that I need to give it more time in use before deciding if I like it or not. Is different good or bad in this case is really the question. But no matter what the final decision it does have some really nice features.

Bright enough for you?

Bright enough for you?

Kids Corner

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has children that see their parents using their smartphones and want in on the action. I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has had a child send an email or text from said phone while playing with it. Technology is a good thing and has some great benefits to our children’s learning but sharing a phone or tablet with them isn’t always easy.

This is where kids corner comes in, you can set up a separate profile on your Windows 8 tablet or phone where you can choose what apps your child has access to. This means no more sending emails to your boss containing gibberish of course managing to rack up some costs through using apps etc.

On my shiny new Nokia this means swiping to the right once set up and another log in screen appears. Your child can then swipe up to log in as you normally would but they see only the features and apps you want them to see. Now I’m not how much I truly want to share my phone, I already resist doing this today but that’s mainly because a phone to me is personal. It’s ‘my’ device so I don’t want someone else using it, but maybe that’s an adjustment needed as phones get bigger and more powerful.

Windows phone home screen

But for a tablet this feature would be perfect, I’m sure you could achieve something similar on other tablets but the fact this is already built into the software makes it very easy. Plus I would expect it to be more robust set up this way than simply a normal profile and you adjust the settings.

Customised start menu

The tiled start menu takes a bit of getting used to, but in terms of being customisable it’s streets ahead of anything else. You can choose exactly what to see on that menu, what size it should be and where it’s located. I’ve gradually tweaked mine until I have all the apps exactly where I want them based on my usage.

The resizing in particular I like and how it isn’t just horizontal rows of apps, once you’ve used it for a while it feels like it’s more intuitive and efficient than what I have on my iPhone.

Henry at London zooThat camera

I can’t finish without saying something about the camera, it’s quite simply awesome. I’m still learning about all the controls and settings I can adjust but in its simplest form as a point and shoot (which let’s face it is the main use of a phone camera) it takes some incredible shots. You’ll see a few here taken on the day at the zoo, the focus is fast and the colours on this autumnal day were captured really well.

If you want you can play with the ISO, shutter speed, aperture etc much as you would with a DSLR. I haven’t spent enough time on that but it certainly gives you the opportunity to get rid of anything but a DSLR. Sure we’re probably heading that way already with smartphones but this should at least mean you don’t have to compromise on picture quality.

That’s all for now, I’ve also been testing out some of the children’s apps so look out for a review of those soon. That’s if I actually let Matilda touch my shiny yellow phone!

Me and my boy

Walking into the lions den – a dad’s view of Britmums live

If I was a Daily Mail journalist that is definitely the headline I would have gone for, I’m not of course but it was probably the topic of the most common question I was asked in the last 2 days. That is ‘what’s it like coming to an event full of women?’, well I hate to disappoint but I didn’t turn up a nervous wreck worried about what would happen after 6pm when everyone had started drinking.

Kirsty Allsop key noteI was one of probably 10 guys at an event where there are 400+ women, what’s not to like? All those mums who write incredible blogs and are trying to stand out, yet all I have to do is quite literally have the balls to turn up and immediately people want to talk to you.

The parent blogging community in my experience is nothing short of welcoming and supportive, you only have to listen to some of the stories being told to know that. But beyond that every mum who blogs that I’ve interacted with online or in person has genuinely been interested in a dad’s viewpoint and to hear about what being a parent is like from our perspective.

I’m not entirely convinced that the brands at the event have quite understood that it’s a parent blogging event rather than a mum blogger event though. There were some very suspicious looks as I walked up to a number of stands and where were the male clothes TK Maxx? Those dresses are never going to suit my runners legs and you definitely didn’t have any shoes that would fit my size 9 feet.

Lewis looking confusedHigh points were the social side of things, loved catching up and talking in real life with people I talk to on twitter and whose blogs I read. There is always a worry that the relationship won’t quite be the same when you meet in person but thoroughly enjoyed talking blogging, parenting and life in general especially with Capture by Lucy, Babberblog, Diary of the dad, A party of seven, Hello wall, Bod for tea and Mama bear with me.

Oh and have I mentioned that Katy Hill and I are now best friends? Just being sat on a table with me at the BIB awards was enough to make her want to follow me on Twitter.

For me the workshops themselves were a bit hit or miss, the using your smartphone to make video session was tremendous and full of useful advice on both equipment and the how-to. I also thought Story of mum gave a great talk on storytelling, I hadn’t come across Pippa before but she was very insightful into how to use storytelling on a blog and I’m fascinated by the story of mum project. There isn’t yet a story of dad equivalent so perhaps something for us blokes to think about?

Nigel Camp video tipsI think the workshops are probably great if you’re a newish blogger but talking with people who have blogged for a couple of years or more there seemed to be a general feeling that there was a lack of sessions that were more advanced. Even the wordpress session that was in theory advanced covered how to install a plugin, not quite my definition of advanced.

All in all a fun couple of days away, but I do wonder if that is more for the chance to sit and talk over a beer with some great people than the event itself? Seems like there is a gap in the market for an event aimed at bloggers who want to talk in more detail about using wordpress and code or transitioning from a blogger to a writer for example. Or even simpler just being social. Perhaps these events aren’t the right vehicle for that and we need to look for alternatives?

Maybe I should find the time and energy to organise a weekend of food, beer and music for bloggers to have a good chat and discussion amongst friends? I certainly learnt a lot from those type of conversations today.

Finally I must say that a 6.30am run is definitely the best hangover cure, especially when you get the chance to take photos like this.

Happy blogging everyone.

Millenium bridge and St. Paul's