Nokia Lumia 735 wallpaper gallery

Last year I got my first smartphone, a Nokia Lumia 735. I really like it, and I've especially enjoyed making it look nice with custom lock screens, Start backgrounds, tile layouts and so on. It really is a beautiful looking device when you show it some care.

This post contains my own favourite wallpapers, all photographs taken with my Nokia Lumia 735. I hope you like using them!

Read the rest...

April 15th, 2017
Blog Entry

About promises

Last year I was wrapped up in the idea of buying myself a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. I was really obsessed with it: I think I spent about two months researching and looking for deals, and I actually almost bought one twice – one turned out to be an eBay small ads scam, while payment for the other never went through.

All this was based on the promise that if I were to get my own portable touch screen computer with a flat keyboard, I could finally be as creative as I want to be. I’m one of those annoying people who likes to think of themselves as generally creative, but too busy to actually create anything. I wanted to make more music, and also write more, and maybe even dabble in a little art.

So – and I think you know where this is going – that was the promise.

Here we are about six months later, and that music hasn’t happened at all. It turns out (and this is where those two months of research really let me down!) there is no decent freeware music production software on Windows. I had assumed that something like Garageband would be available, but after a few very frustrating days trying to record from my keyboard via USB, I rather reluctantly loaded up the MacBook and Garageband. Surface 0, Mac 1.

On the writing front, well there I’ve actually been a tiny bit more successful with the Surface. I’ve written/polished a few more blog posts this year than I have in the past few years, so while I’m not exactly going to break any land speed typing records, I’m doing better and that’s a good thing. 1-1.

On the art front, I’ve also been a doodler who can only draw one thing, so I suppose the Surface wasn’t ever going to radically improve that. But I did draw the below sketch while on a plane, and as I never made anything artistic on the Mac, I suppose this one goes in the Surface’s favour.

But what of promises? That’s really what I wanted to write about today.

I think I’m smart enough to know that when I promise myself that a new product or activity will change my life, I’m willingly misleading myself because I love the idea that I’m only one purchase away from who I’d love to be. Of course, I knew that the Surface would basically just be a web browsing tool. I even reasoned with myself that if I really wanted to write more or draw more or be more musical, I already had plenty of tools to do that, and didn’t have to buy a new thing that would somehow make these pursuits possible. But that didn’t scratch that itch a new prospective purchase brings.

I remember a phrase from my brother’s old work wall: “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.” It’s something I should keep in mind. Products are not magical keys to unlocking who you are and what you want to do – and I’m not just talking about big purchases here: hands up if you also own far too many new notebooks that are 95% blank – but at their best they can give you new options and dimensions that might just edge you a little closer to that goal.

This happens with nostalgic items too. I’ve been looking at Neo Geo Pocket Colour consoles recently, for some reason thinking of buying my third machine (one at launch, and one back in February 2012 when they were much cheaper). But this is a promise that it’ll bring back some of that happiness I used to feel when I played those games almost 20 years ago. It won’t, though. I feel a bit sad about that.

So the end result? I promise myself that next time, I won’t buy into buying so easily.


March 19th, 2017
Blog Entry

Ten years of employment

On 30th October 2006, I worked my first day in my first job, a part-time sales assistant role at a games retailer in York. I’d finished my teaching degree earlier that year knowing I wanted to pursue my passions of writing and gaming. I basically took the summer of 2006 off, relaunching the site in WordPress in June 2006 and then publishing all sorts of odd bits and pieces: complaining about Vernon Kay, for instance. I won’t list the rest because it was weird and hardly seems relevant now.

I seem to remember I’d applied for a lot of jobs around that time but only got one interview, at Gamestation in York. I remember seeing my CV on the table with a big circle around “Employment experience: none”.

I really enjoyed myself there. I got games (and sometimes consoles!) a few days early, which in those days was incredible. I met a lot of really nice people, and struck up some good relationships. It was always cheering to see the regulars, and know they’d come in specifically to ask your advice or tell you how the last recommendation worked out.

After about three or four years, I had a chance to apply for a senior position. It didn’t work out, and I took that as a catalyst to start taking my writing more seriously again. I’d already been writing for a gaming website for some time, and knew that was where I wanted to focus my energy

Fast-forward to spring 2012, and for some reason, I wonder what jobs are going at Nintendo. I find an online editor position and think, “Hey, I’m an online editor!”. A nerve-wracking few months followed, but on 26th July 2012 I moved to Germany.

In the near-five years since then, I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing people, and on some fantastic projects. When I think about how my first job was a few hours a week in a tiny game shop in the UK, and now I’m part of an amazing team at Nintendo, I can’t really process how far my career has progressed.

I’ve been very fortunate to have such an enjoyable and fulfilling ten years of work, and there’s a lot for me left to learn and accomplish, to build and rebuild. It should be fun.


February 28th, 2017
Blog Entry

Forget about fresh starts

I’ve made about a dozen posts on this website in the past four and a half years or so. Generally when I do get the itch to write, I get a bit caught up and promise myself I’ll write more. Normally I come back to this site in January or February, romanced by the promise of the upcoming year, then forget about it a few weeks later when something else catches my attention.

The other day I posted about something about cycling home from work, which I’ve had on my mind for the last year or so. Four months before that, I wrote about B*Witched.

So, no more promises. I’ll write what I write, and forget about fresh starts and promises.


February 17th, 2017
Blog Entry

Cycling up that hill

I’ve cycled to work every day for about the last 18 months. It’s about 5km, and takes me around 20 minutes each way. My route takes me past a school, through a forest, and on a few quiet roads. It’s direct and I like it. In the morning it’s mostly downhill, and in winter, the rush of cold air is invigorating.

But every day when I come home, I come to the bottom of a long hill.

And every day a voice in my head says, “If you’re tired, or you can’t do this, it’s OK – you can get off and walk. It’s OK.”

And every day I keep cycling and make it up that hill.

Because my brain is quick to forget what I’ve already accomplished, but my legs remember. I tell the voice that I’ve climbed this hill hundreds of times. Every day it speaks up, and on my weaker days it’s tempting to say, “It’s OK to stop.”

But I keep going.


November 5th, 2016
Blog Entry

Opening Lines: C’est La Vie – B*Witched

Some people say I look like me Dad

As Elvis Costello said in that episode of 30 Rock about Alan Alda getting a kidney, “when someone starts talking in the middle song, you know it’s serious”, but even more serious talking comes at the start. Like this line from B*Witched’s 1998 masterpiece, “C’est La Vie”, such a gloriously bizarre way to start a pop career.

Apparently the band revealed a few years later that this song is actually all about sex, which makes that opening line even more enjoyable, because who doesn’t want to hear identical twins mention a resemblance to their dad?

More Opening Lines

I Run – Embrace
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Do You… – Miguel


October 29th, 2016
Blog Entry

Nokia Lumia 735 wallpaper gallery

Last year I got my first smartphone, a Nokia Lumia 735. I really like it, and I’ve especially enjoyed making it look nice with custom lock screens, Start backgrounds, tile layouts and so on. It really is a beautiful looking device when you show it some care.

I thought I could help out fellow Lumia owners with some wallpapers. So if you’re looking for Nokia Lumia 735 wallpapers, you’ve come to the right place.

The album below contains my own favourite wallpapers, all photographs taken with my Nokia Lumia 735. I hope you like using them!

Self-made wallpapers for Nokia Lumia phones


September 21st, 2015
Blog Entry

Opening Lines: I Run – Embrace

The water’s frozen to ice.

There was a time I believed Danny McNamara, frontman of British indie rock quintet Embrace, was a remarkably gifted lyricist, though this lyric makes that hard to believe. I looked up to him during my late teens and early 20s, when my hair was long and an acoustic guitar was the ultimate instrument of self-expression (these days my hair is rarely longer than a toothbrush bristle, and like most grown-ups I’ve realised self-expression is best eradicated.)

Having scrobbled Embrace tracks over 2,000 times, of course I was curious to listen to their self-titled return, released in 2014 some eight years after their previous album, This New Day.

Imagine you had eight years to write an album. That’s ages: the Olympics come and go twice in that time. It’s certainly long enough to develop the same rudimentary grasp of chemistry demonstrated in those opening lines.

I wish I’d misheard this lyric, or that this interpretation – as found on LyricsMania.com – was the right one:

The watre’s frozing to eyes

While researching this article to make sure I didn’t make myself look an idiot, I actually searched “is frozen water always ice?”, just in case there had been a huge advancement in our scientific comprehension of water in the years since I last opened a chemistry book. That’s how bad this lyric is: it introduced my Google search history to its most stupid question yet.

In the interests of fairness, the writing credits for this song are shared between Danny and brother Richard, both of whom should know better.

More Opening Lines

I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Do You… – Miguel


September 15th, 2015
Blog Entry

What running has taught me

For Christmas 2012, Hannah bought me a GPS watch. It’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received, as I’ve told her about a thousand times since.

I didn’t run much in 2013; I got to 10km once, thought that was good enough, and stopped. In 2014, though, I did a lot better, completing about 600km over the course of the year. In total I think it was about 70 hours of running (yep, I am very slow) which gave me plenty of time to think. I haven’t run at all this year because of injury, but I still wanted to post this. Here’s what I’ve learnt from putting one foot in front of the other.

Self-acceptance

I’m a slow runner. Really slow, in fact; I finished in the bottom 15% of the Great Manchester 10k in 2014. My average paces don’t even make it onto the pacing charts in my running diary. At my pace, I’d be lucky to finish a marathon before they close the course.

I am fine with all of this.

Determination

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get faster, though. After my disappointment with my result in the Manchester 10k, I started a half-marathon training plan. During the plan, I set a new 10k PB which, had I run it in Manchester, would have put me in the top 40% of the field. And I finished two 21k training runs, which I didn’t think I could have done in 2013.

Commitment

I do not get medals or awards for running. Nobody high-fives or cheers for me. I do it for myself because I enjoy it and I know it’s good for me. And if you do the next thing that’s required of you, you get a bit better, and so on, until you’re somewhere you’ve never been before.

Unfortunately it hasn’t taught me everything: it hasn’t taught me how to go easy on myself when I fail, or to think something other than, “I wish I was that fast” when people speed past me (I have that on my bike, too.) But considering I never thought it would teach me anything, I’ll take what I can get.


September 7th, 2015
Blog Entry

Opening Lines: I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton

If I should stay, I would only be in your way

A lyric we’ve all heard a hundred times – and one that sends me scrambling for the skip button, if I’m honest – but like most great lyrics, follow it back to the source and you find the real story.

That story is Dolly parting ways with manager and former duet partner Porter Wagoner around June 1973. The song wasn’t released until a year later: imagine having to reconnect with that emotion in performances a year after the fact, again and again, as the song grew more and more popular. At the song’s heart is strength masking vulnerability; in the Whitney Houston version, it totally overpowers it.

The song is full of difficult admissions – We both know that I’m not what you need, that (perhaps ill-advised) spoken word section – all stemming from that first realisation: that two people are stronger apart than together.

Interesting story: Elvis wanted to record a cover once the song became popular, but Dolly Parton refused to sign over half the publishing royalties in return. Not many people would say no to Elvis, but then, as this song shows, not many people are as strong as Dolly Parton.

More Opening Lines

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
Do You… – Miguel


August 30th, 2015
Blog Entry

Opening Lines: I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

Ooh, I bet you’re wondering how I knew
About your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before.
Between the two of us guys, you know I love you more.

In those first four lines we witness confrontation, envy, dismissal (“with some other guy” cuts like a knife) and what could be either a plea or a goodbye, depending on whether you hear “love” or “loved” (I can hear it either way, depending on my mood, and can’t seem to find the official lyrics online). “I bet you’re wondering how I knew” is a phenomenal line on its own: when secrets come out, the response is often “how did you find out? Who told you?” The song latches onto that paranoia from both sides right away, and keeps pulling on it: People say believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear.

The song’s lyrics never reach those early heights again, but then few songs since have even come close.

Note: I know this wasn’t originally Marvin Gaye’s song – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had their version rejected, then it launched as a song for Gladys Knight and the Pips – but it’s definitely his song now. Listen to the Gladys Knight version again, and the difference is thrown into stark contrast.

More Opening Lines

Do You… – Miguel


Complete Archives Older Articles »