Good Job, Brain!

This past Christmas at dinner we pulled our crackers and, after sorting through the little prizes and crowning ourselves with paper crowns, we started reading our jokes and trivia. The jokes went down as well as you’d expect, “What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?” “DAMN!” but I lapped up the trivia. This is because I love facts. I love little bits of information that colour our fantastic world. Most of the trivia at the dinner table I already knew the answers to, my friends were all suitably impressed. I admitted that I love trivia and that one of my favourite things is to listen to a podcast called Good Job, Brain!. It is awesome.

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The podcast is hosted by a colourful pub trivia team who’s specialities cover a vast array of topics. Each episode opens with a quick Pop Quiz for the hosts with a random Trivial Pursuit card – this is what hooked me initially. I felt clever when I knew the answer for one of the questions when the team didn’t. (For once my History of Art Degree came in handy!) After this each host has their own little segment based around the theme of the episode. This could be a little quiz, historical tale or scientific factoid. If you have the least bit of an inquisitive mind, then you should pick an episode related to a topic you like and enjoy!

My favourite thing to do is to listen to the podcast on the tube. However the gang on Good Job, Brain don’t take themselves too seriously. The jokes and laughs between Karen, Colin, Dana and Chris have me laughing on crowded tube trains at rush hour. I don’t mind though, I’m having a laugh and learning – what’s not to love?

Dots

“Eventually, everything connects.” – Charles Eames

This is what Dots is all about – as long as you only move vertically or horizontally, diagonals are not welcome. I was introduced to this game while in a waiting room that I would spend two weeks sitting in. I’m not saying it made things easier, but it did make things bearable. The game is quick and simple. Once you get the hang of it you will be addicted. The mechanics are intuitive, couple that with some competitive leaderboards with friends and you’ve got a good time.

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What I love about Dots, and what I search for in a lot of games and apps these days is the ability to play for free but have payments to enhance the experience rather than become a necessity. With dots, you can use the dots you earn from playing to buy power-ups. If you don’t want to play to amass dots then you can pay for dots. It encourages you to play and spend time getting more skilled at the game to earn your power ups. If you lead a busy life then you can pay for them. It works either way.

It’s fun to play and just so damn pretty I’d like to think that maybe Charles Eames would have it on his iPad were he still around today.

Doxie

I love technology, I embrace it at almost every opportunity. The more integrated my life can be with the latest and greatest of tech, the happier I will be. My favourite kind of gadget is one that is perfectly formed. One that is simple in design and easy to use. Often these days we want our gadget to be multitaskers. We want them to do it all, but I take great joy in something that does one thing, but excels at it. I love when a gadget puts my mind at rest, because it has perfected what it set out to do. I will never have to buy another piece of kit for this purpose. Doxie is the only scanner I will ever need for the rest my life.

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What do I need a scanner for? A number of things, but my main reason for investing in a Doxie was scanning my Instax Mini Photos. (I know it kind of defeats the purpose of having a real photograph but I like the best of both worlds!) However the scanner also was fantastic for a lot of other things. I like to scan my Christmas and Birthday cards with Doxie so I can recycle the physical card but still have a digital copy of the nice images and cherished messages. It’s also fantastic for going paperless with important documents, contracts, payslips, etc. Combine this with something like Evernote or Dropbox and you can have all your paperwork in the cloud for you to access anywhere and you will save space do your little bit to reduce your carbon foot print. You’re such a good person.

Using the Doxie is simple. Press the button to turn it on. Green light means 300dpi, press the button to turn the light red which means 600dpi. Feed your photo or document into the scanner and watch it do it’s magic. My Doxie, the Doxie Go model has the option of internal storage but both an SD card slot and usb port for flash drives can be used also. I like to use an SD card and then move my scans onto my iPad Mini with a lightning SD Card reader but I figure using a Eye-Fi SD card would be even smoother! The whole operation is a pleasure and of course the Doxie is battery powered and rechargeable so you can take it anywhere. What more do you want from it? It does everything so well. If you need a scanner in your life, Doxie is the one to partner up with.

I Hate the Marvel Comics App

Living within my body is every kind of geek you can imagine. Each day I struggle to hold them all inside. Often they escape when I come across a fellow Doctor Who fan, or when I find an interesting gadget in the kitchen section of John Lewis. My comic book geek had been kept dormant for a few years now. I hadn’t bought anything but the occasional Fables trade paperback since I was a teenager. However when I got my iPad and downloaded the Marvel Comics app. My bank account was not happy.

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The App is extremely easy to use, you create an account with Marvel if you’d like but otherwise you are free to buy ay comic via your iTunes account – which is where the problems lie for me. It is far too easy to download great comics at the touch of a button. There are so many great stories, past and present available to read. The Avengers Vs X-Men event was happening which I jumped aboard and now that the dust has settled I’m reading several titles that have been spawned from the huge event. As well as this I’ve been able to go back and read some stories that have piqued my interest for some time. For example I am now a major fan of both Runaways and Young Avengers – which I do recommend. I have also read X-Men: Days of Future Past in preparation for the upcoming movie in 2014 so I can sound smug when I’m leaving the theatre.

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You can read your comics page by page as normal or you can view it panel by panel, which highlights each speech bubble and is a great way to follow the story if you like to be surprised as you read or if you struggle to find your way around a complicated spread. (It happens to us all.) If I’m honest, I don’t hate the Marvel Comics App – I adore it. It allows me to read the comics that I love but not have to make the trip to the comic book store every Wednesday, and that works for me. I just wish it wasn’t so easy to keep reading and reading!

Keeping Life #WellPacked

I have a weakness for making sure everything I carry on my person is packed appropriately. Most recently I purchased two items that have brought me great joy and I would highly recommend.

The first is an iPad Mini case from Mujjo. I bought the Smart Cover immediately when I bought the iPad Mini. For me, it is kind of a necessity. However unlike its bigger brother, there is no Smart Case for the Mini, just the cover. So what was I going to do about protecting the back of my precious tablet computer whenever it wasn’t safely in my hands?

I knew I wanted a simple, elegant but protective sleeve that I could slip around my iPad while it was in transit. It had to be big enough to fit the iPad with the Smart Cover attached and it had to be affordable for me because let’s face it if I could afford a Smythson case I would get it. So my budget was about £40, stretching to £50 if it was a case I really fell in love with that also blew my mind. I searched etsy, and while there were a few cases I liked a lot – the price for getting something that was handmade was beyond my upper budget. However on etsy I did see the trend for cases made of felt and leather. This is a combination that really appeals to me. It’s somewhat organic. When the two materials are brought together they are wonderfully complimentary.

I found my star case with Mujjo. They are more commonly known for their touchscreen gloves but have expanded with a line of electronics cases called The originals. The line uses felt and leather to great effect and I knew the iPad Mini case was the one I was after. It was wonderfully designed and was completely below my budget. When I tried to order a case I was faced with the problem that there was no iPad Mini cases to be found in stock anywhere on the internet unless I wanted to pay huge shipping fees. This was a hindrance but it informed me that these cases were popular, I was onto a good thing. So I waited, and I couldn’t be more happy with the result.

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When wrapped in the Mujjo case, I completely happy to toss my iPad Mini into my bag. I am also completely happy to carry the case alone. With a second pocket big enough to store some earbuds and a couple of pens within the case too, I’d happily be spotted on the street. It’s so chic I’m sure some style blogger would have to snap me simply because of my great iPad Mini cover.

I lug my lunch into work every day on the tube. My over the shoulder bag is attractive but does not fit a lunch box, water bottle, diary, notebook, iPad, kindle and so on. I needed a backpack that was well made and fit with my personal style. The day my Herschel bag arrived was a happy one. The print is modern, different and fun. I really feel confident with this on my back every day and it is a comfortable fit.

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The Claim style bag in the camp print I’ve got is ridiculously spacious. The pretty red fabric lined inside can be filled to the brim with plenty of stuff. The front pocket is also large and has plenty of organisational components built in to keep all your gear in check. This year I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling and I’m really pleased and comforted by the fact I will have this great bag to carry everything safely. My one little gripe comes from the fact the main pocket has a drawstring enclosure. It’s charming most of the time but sometimes when I want to pull something out of the main pocket really quickly I can’t do it. A zip compartment would be quicker but it’s not such a huge issue. Perhaps I have to take everything in my life a little slower.

Always Accessorise, Even while Brushing.

I have a new love in my life. It was love at first sight and we’ve been seeing each other for nearly a month now. Things are going great between us, every morning when I wake up and each night right before I go to sleep I am happy to see and use my Philips Sonicare DiamondClean. This tooth brush is the top of the line and rightfully so. It is beautifully designed, comes with many different cleaning settings and leaves my teeth looking and feeling better than ever. I spend more time rubbing my tongue across my smooth shiny nibblers than I do anything else these days. This should be enough of a recommendation to get you to invest in this toothbrush – but dear god the accessories are so fantastic and geeky I can barely contain my nerd jazz hands when I talk about them.

First of all, the toothbrush comes with a very fetching glass to store it in while it is at rest in your bathroom. To charge the toothbrush, you pop the glass on a little silver pedestal and it does the business as if by magic. It must be black magic because it is by the the coolest and craziest charging method I have ever come across.

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But dear God wait there’s more! The toothbrush comes with a lovely hard case for when you’re traveling with it. It has a slot for the handle and two slots for your brush heads. Wait, what’s this USB mini port doing at the bottom of this end of the case? Shut the front door – you can charge your toothbrush via USB without even having to take the thing out of it’s travel case. I can’t handle this! Why doesn’t everything electronic have a mini USB port in it’s travel case? It makes so much sense! I can barely handle this toothbrushes genius anymore. Let’s talk about something else before I pass out from the brilliance of it all.

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This past Christmas I discovered the wonders of Etsy. I always knew the website existed and appreciated what it did for crafters but I never actually shopped on it. That is until I realised it is the best place to find gifts. I ended up getting to presents for a couple friends on Etsy, and of course I gifted myself something too. The Etsy shop is called hajimedesign and it is choc a bloc with incredibly charming ceramics that would be welcome to any home. I picked up the single bug porcelain vase. This is a tiny vase made for a single bloom or a tiny piece of flora. I have it currently sitting on my windowsill and I love plucking little bits when I’m out walking to display in it. I highly recommend this shop, they have great customer service. When I move to a bigger place I will definitely be investing in more of their designs. Visit their website for more info!

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Instant Photography Forever

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I have been taking pictures with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 50S for nearly a year now, and while the experience has been completely brilliant – there are some things you really need to get used to when operating the camera. The first thing is that you need to do is love every photo that you take. There is beauty in every single frame – even if it only teaches you what not to do. I had never owned a film camera before – I have grown up using digital since I was a teenager. When using film, particularly instant film like this which is expensive, you have to make every shot count. However do not take this to mean the camera is all serious, it has a whimsical side to it that I adore. With every click and flash the camera noisily whirrs and spits out a credit card sized photo which slowly develops in front of your eyes. The anticipation, excitement and physical photo you’re left with is what make this camera such a joy to wield.

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This camera definitely takes some getting used to. The problem with this compared to digital cameras is that it costs you money to figure out how best to use it. You could go through an entire pack of film (which contains 10 frames) just figuring out the settings. The most important thing to note is that the flash always fires. No matter what setting you place the camera on, the bright light will always shine. This is because if there is not enough light, the film will not develop so Fujifilm probably thought it best to make sure you always got some sort of a picture – even if it is a really washed out one.

This brings me to my second point. The camera has a feature to either lighten or darken the film as it develops. My advice is to never not have it on the darken setting. Once in a while I forget to do this and I’m left with a hazy, washed out colour on my prints. But I love practically every photo I take with this thing and I can’t help it. I was gifted a pair of Mini Photo Albums for Christmas this year and every picture has a place in those albums. I haven’t even managed to fill one completely yet but I look forward to shooting hundreds of photos instantly with this camera because it’s fun, addictive and strangely satisfying.

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I have been obsessed with using this camera, almost as much as I have been obsessed with my new boots. They were a Christmas present to myself. From Bershka, it’s my second pair of boots from this brand and hopefully they will last as well as the pair I got last year did. This pair weren’t as difficult to break in either – which my feet were thankful for. They’re good because they can be worn with a smart outfit on a night out or with something more casual – which I appreciate. All my clothing items should be able to do double duty.

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