Author: Samuel Stroud

A Student currently studying IT, Media and Science.

An Ending

We got some terrible news last night; my stepfather’s mother died last night.
I knew that he, my stepfather, was very close with his mother up until a about 6-7 years ago, when he moved away, to the South of England; whilst she remained in London.

Understandably, he’s devastated.
Regardless of how far you drift apart, or how far you move away from one another, nothing will ever prepare you for the loss of someone close.

“They’ve gone to a better place.” people often say at times like this. “They’re happier now.” I can only hope that’s the case.

It’s awful.

We go through our lives amassing vast amounts of objects, putting too much thought into money and material possessions, but what’s the point, when nothing you own can be taken with you once you’re gone?

Rather than doing this, we should focus on living. Spending time with the people we love, before it is too late.
We need to learn to live. To love. To work on one’s self, not one’s wealth.

We need to learn. Find joy. Happiness. Excitement. Fear. Anger. Sadness. We need to learn to feel.

“I knew she was ill,” he said “and still I sat here.” That sums up what I’m trying to say perfectly. Life is much to short to just put things off. It’s not worth to just keep saying “I’ll see her next week.”
Yesterday, you said tomorrow.

Please, appreciate what you have. Appreciate your parents. Your siblings. Anyone in your life who’s special, who’s close, because all too soon, it’s all gone, and there is no tomorrow.

I’m sorry if this post is all jumpy. If what I’ve said doesn’t make any sense.

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17th September 2014 – Nineteen Eighty-Four

Alright? I haven’t really been posting a lot recently, partly because of some design stuff I had to do, and also partly because I’m in the process of looking for a ‘proper’ job. I know, it sucks. Among everything that’s going on, there’s one subject that I cannot stop thinking about: the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I should start this off by saying that I’m currently reading it, and that it’s brilliant! Like, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything as powerful or as poignant as this. I should also say that I don’t really know where this post is going, so please forgive me if I ramble on about nothing in particular, which let’s be honest, is entirely possible.

Reading this has made me realize something: I absolutely love Dystopian narratives. Thinking about, almost all of my favourite books, films and games are Dystopian. 1984 (obviously), Fight Club, Brave New World, Battle Royale, etc. I don’t know what it is, it’s just a brilliant genre/style.

Anyway, because this book’s constantly on my mind, I can’t help but notice, or imagine, similarities between the fictional Oceania and the real world we live in. Think about it, we live paying tax to people who control almost everything we do. There are bodies that regulate the media we see/hear/read, they have total control over what we consume. Going down to a much more basic level, there are companies that charge us for water. That’s one of the essential things we need for survival, and it’s controlled by a few companies. Thinking about America for a moment, their government put up a false façade of freedom, but are able to control every aspect of their lives, without even being noticed.

If you haven’t read 1984, I won’t go into great detail about the plot as to not spoil it, I’ll only mention one thing. In the novel, the population is spied upon at all times of the day via devices named Telescreens, which are in all residences, with only the people of higher power being able to shut them off. Does this remind you of anything?

In Britain, there are CCTV cameras everywhere, and I mean everywhere. In fact, we’re the ‘most watched nation’. Yes, there may not be cameras in everybody’s house, spying one everyone all the time, but it’s almost guaranteed that there’s one on every road, at least in the built up, more populated areas. At any point, when you’re out-and-about in Britain, you never know if you’re being watched. Most of us try to put it at the back of our minds, but from reading 1984, I’m always on the look out for CCTV. Yeah, some people would argue that they’re a good thing, the cameras, stating that they prevent crime, but they don’t. If you live in Britain, and have never really thought about this, have a look around the next time you’re walking through town, I bet you’ll see more CCTV than ever before.

We’re controlled, there’s no question. Everything you’ve watched or read today, that’s part of the mass media, has been regulated, and potentially changed, before it was deemed ‘suitable’ to be broadcasted and shown to the masses. I think this is another reason that I like Fight Club. Tyler addresses this very thing, and makes plans to put it to a stop. He speaks about how money and wealth is just another way of controlling the masses, and making sure that the powerful remain powerful.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve thought about what the world would be like if there was no government, there was no money or no property. This would put everyone on a level playing field, so to speak. I do want to write something about this, but this post is not the place for it. Do you think it’s possible though, to get enough people on your side to spark a revolution? A revolution in the sense of Fight Club. Destroying banks, removing money and wealth?

Anyway, that’s about it. I’m sorry if I rambled on a bit. Thanks for reading! If you’ve any thoughts about anything like this, please comment below!

Until next time, be safe. ❤

26 August 2014 | Not Tired?

Here we are again. It’s four in the fucking morning and I’m not asleep. Such is life. This got me thinking though, is it possible to train your body to not need as much sleep as it normally would.

I mean, for the past, like, 5 months (?) I’ve been getting very little sleep, most of it through my own doing. And now, I really don’t need to sleep that much, at least not as much as I would have before all this. Take, for example, a couple of weeks ago. I was knockin’ about at a friend’s house, watching films, getting bevved, etc, and I got no sleep. Like none. I’m pretty sure she fell asleep at some point, but I know for sure I was up all night. The point to this is that the next morning, I was fine. I didn’t feel tired at all. Nothing was effected by the lack of sleep.

I know, 100%, that I never used to be like this. Back in the day, when I had school work to do, I’d often stay up super late getting shit done, at the cost of the next day. I was a zombie for the day after, which meant I was wide awake for the next night. “It’s a vicious cycle” as a friend once put it. Now, however, I often pull all-nighters, both for work and for why not? and be fine the day after. I did find, back when I needed to be up late for school, that’d I’d often produce my best work at these times. I’d have a certain point when I past being tired. I guess the adrenaline would kick in, and I’d get a boost of energy. At this point, working became so easy. If I was writing something, the words would just flow out, appearing on the screen almost with not effort. It was glorious.

I can still hit this point now, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. Nowadays, I need to get proper juiced on caffeine, like seriously juiced. I’ve only done this a few times, and although each time it’s been great (ridiculous work flow, insane productivity) I’ve crashed hugely the next day. At one point, I found myself falling asleep whilst using my laptop, like just nodding off. I guess it’s good I don’t need to do this too often.

Being able to stay awake like I can now does have it’s advantages though. I guess for a bit of backstory, I should tell you that I make Tumblr Themes, both for fun and to sell. More times than not, I’ve got ‘real world’ shit to do during the day, be it going out with people or whatever, so the only time that I get to work is at night. Distractionless coding at night is wonderful. Everything seems to come together a lot better than it does in the day. Don’t ask me why, it just feels like it does. One other thing that working at night is good for is listening to music. I tend to purchase shit loads of albums, most of which that I never get a chance to listen to, at least listen to properly. In fact, even now, I have Adobe Dreamweaver and iTunes open. A Theme half-built in one, and Mac Miller’s Watching Movies with the Sound Off playing on the other.

So, I guess to you can train your body to not need a lot of sleep, well, to some extent you can. I’ve always wondered what my threshold would be. I mean, how long would I be able to go, un-juiced, without sleep. Like, how many days would pass until I just couldn’t take it any more? I honestly doubt that I’ll ever test this. It would be cool to know my number, but I doubt I’d enjoy the experience. I kinda like the idea of hallucinating, without having to take anything. Presumably, there would be not long time effects of doing this. I mean, Randy Gardner did it, and he was fine after. But, as they say, no two subjects are the same.

I’ve wrote one of these posts for the last two nights, including this one. I probably won’t write one tomorrow, or any day next week. I want to get back to work properly and finish off a few Themes I’ve got ‘in the works’, so to speak. Besides, everything gets back to normal today. Yesterday was a Bank Holiday, so I didn’t need to get fully stuck into the programming, but the rest of the week, I will.

That’s about it for tonight. I’ve got a few idea for some more posts, so they could either be written tonight, or written some when else, who knows? But anyways, thanks for reading. Much love. <3.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

I should start off by saying that this isn’t a review of the film. Personally, I don’t think it’s right that you should write something that could potentially ruin/diminish someone else’s experience with the film. Yes, I have written reviews before, but they were for films that haven’t just come out.

Right, Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) is the latest release from Marvel Studios. For this next bit, I’ve taken the film’s synopsis from IMDb, so I don’t purposely add too much, potentially spoiling stuff. Let me just say, before we get too deep into this, I will say if there is going to be anything spoilerish in the post, to give you the opportunity to skip over it, without seeing the details.

Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted, Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

I love the fact that the description of the plot that IMDb gives is vague. To me, that’s just how they should be. I know that when ever I buy a DVD, or a Blu-Ray, I hardly ever look at the back of the box, at least until I’ve actually watched the production.

For me, the beauty of this film was that it included completely new protagonists, new in the sense that they’ve never been seen in cinema, as the main characters, anyway. Many people wouldn’t expect the first instalment of a new franchise to be any good, but it really was!

A bit of back story: I went into this film expecting it to be, how shall we say. not up to scratch with the rest of Marvel’s releases? Honestly, that was what I thought this film was going to be like. Some thing that’s a little bit like The Avengers, but not quite as good. But, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One of the reasons that I was a little expectant for it to be bad was because of the talking racoon. NON-PLOT SPOILER COMING UP! What’s a racoon? AMIRITE? THAT WAS THE SPOILER From the trailer, and all the publicity, the character made the film look a tad, dare I say, childish? But, once you get into the film (which is practically immediately, by the way) you realize that this doesn’t matter in the slightest. SLIGHT SPOILER? In fact, for me, Rocket was one of the most well-rounded, and most comedic characters in the film. END SPOILER.

For me, most Marvel films that feature a host of ‘main’ characters, often include one that doesn’t really bring much to the table, so to speak. For example, in The Avengers, for me, this character was Captain America. Like really, would the film have been much different if he wasn’t there. Of course, I only use The Avengers as an example as it’s the closest Marvel film to this one, aside from X-Men. I truly believe that GotG doesn’t have this problem. Each of the characters, BE WARNED, CHARACTER SPOILER, even the tree (Groot) was superb, and he says 5 different words in the whole film! END OF THAT ONE. 

I feel that is a testament to the filmmakers, YEP, ANOTHER ONE that they were able to make witty, meaningful conversations that include the character that only knows one phrase. This film includes all the typical Marvel humour, the quick one liners, the visual gags, etc. I don’t want to get super spoilery and quote some, but trust me, they are there. SPOILER BE GONE! 

There are two things for me that really sealed the deal. That made me 100% feel that this was the best Marvel film made. These were MINOR SPOILER Dave Bautista THAT WAS THAT, and the soundtrack.

Let’s start with the first thing on the list, shall we? POTENTIALLY MAJOR CHARACTER SPOILERS. The first time you see Bautista in the film, you get the impression that he’s just another wrestler-turned-actor who can’t really do the latter. But, as the plot progresses, and Drax (Bautista’s character) becomes more involved, you discover that the acting style is perfect for the role, and suits the personality of the character down to a tee. Truly brilliant. I’d absolutely love to see Bautista in more and more films in the future! OKAY, THAT ONE IS DONE.

The second reason that made me fall in love with this film is the soundtrack. It was unreal. The soundtrack is composed a number of 70’s and 80’s classics, that are such a juxtaposition to the movie that they work perfectly. For example MINOR SPOILER. There is a scene right at the beginning of the movie that features Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) exploring an abandoned planet. As you’d expect, the environment is desolate and dark. There are a bunch of alien looking animals walking about the place. Some small, rat looking? things attempt to bite Quill. But then, the incredible track Come and get Your Love, by Redbone, starts playing. Quill picks up one of the rat? things and sings into it like a mic. END SPOILINGS. That was both a brilliant way to introduce the soundtrack, and also a fabulous way to introduce the character.

So yeah, GotG was both far better than expected, but also, I think, one of the best Marvel films made. Like ever.

If you’ve seen the film, hit up them comments and add your opinion! Or even if you haven’t, chat to some people. Be warned, there could be spoilers.

Thanks for reading! ❤


As a side note, I was listening to the soundtrack whilst writing this post. I really is fantastic. Even if you haven’t seen GotG, you can’t help but not love every track. Have a lil’ listen, why don’t ‘cha?

A Challenge!

The other day, on Twitter, I set myself the challenge of designing and developing a Tumblr theme in one day:

This meant that I could not work on the theme at any point before or after the allotted time. I had never done anything like this before – I typically like to spend time making sure everything is looking good before I say it’s finished – so I had no idea how good the end product would look.

This process involved me doing three things, which were:

  1. Designing – A digital mock-up. I like to use Adobe Photoshop for this.
  2. Developing – This is the actual building of the theme. I like to use Adobe Dreamweaver.
  3. Testing – Arguably the most important part. This is where I needed to make sure that the theme was working on all browsers, and also that it scaled correctly on smaller devices, such as mobiles and tablets.

As you can see, there was a fair amount to do in order to say that the challenge had been a success, and to say that the end product is finished.

If I was to do this, I wanted to make sure that I did nothing out-of-the-ordinary in order to accomplish the task. So, I woke up at my normal time, and did everything that I would normally do in the morning. So, at about 9Am, I started work.

The first thing, as I have said above, was to mock-up the design. Doing this allows the designed to get an understanding of what he/she will be building when the time comes. Again, as I’ve said, I like to use Adobe Photoshop, so this is what I did.

There were eight things that I would need to design, which were:

  1. The Menu
  2. Text Post
  3. Photo Post
  4. Link Post
  5. Quote Post
  6. Chat Post
  7. Audio Post
  8. and Video Post

As I almost always do, I began with designing the menu. Doing this allows me to get a grasp of the size and dimensions of the rest of the theme, relative to the menu. This would be fixed to one spot, meaning that as the user scrolled, it would be constantly visible and accessible. The design for the menu, and also the area when the Posts will appear can be seen below.

01 Menu

 

As you can see, the menu of the theme is one left, and the area in which the content of the blog will appear is on the right, in a lovely shade of purple, I might add. After this, I needed to design the different Post Types. I’m not going to write about every one, as it is clear what they look like.

Text Post

02 Text Post

Photo Post

03 Photo Post

Link Post

04 Link Post

Quote Post

05 Quote Post

Chat Post

06 Chat Post

Audio Post 

07 Audio Post

Video Post – I pretty much always use Achievement Hunter videos in my mock ups. Both because I’m a huge fan of what they do, and also because it’s nice to have something good to watch when testing.

08 Video Post

 

The designing of the theme took me up to about 1Pm, which for me was great time. I usually take a week or more during this stage. Anyway, the next thing to do was the actual development of the theme. As I’ve mentioned, I like to do this in Adobe Dreamweaver, but really any text editor will work.

I only really came across one issue during this, which was the fixed positioning of the menu. I had never needed to have something that was fixed in one place, but also relative to the rest of the design before, but in the end I worked it out. But, to be honest, I’m not really sure how I worked it out. For this particular area, it’s a case of It works, but I don’t know why. 

The development stage took about three hours. Also here I was testing as I went along, to make sure that everything worked and displayed correctly.

A demo of this theme can be found here. It should be noted that neither the video or the audio are linked to the page, but one can get a sense of what they would do. Also, the link at the bottom of the menu section will bring you back to this blog. This is the only link that takes you anywhere, the rest are just for show.

That’s about it. I managed to designed and develop a desktop theme in one day. I’m currently looking to into putting it up for download, but if I were to do this, I’d want to refine a few things like, for example, the Tag and Clock icons not lining up correctly with the text to the right.

I said I developed a desktop theme because I didn’t have time to make it responsive (meaning that it displays correctly on every screen size), but, this is something I can work on if I were to put it up for download.

Thanks for reading, see you later.

Cocoon of Safety

The warmth, comfort and stability of my current surroundings are magnificent. Words cannot begin to describe how wonderfully gorgeous my current location is. There is near silence, with a slight, quiet sound of the breeze rolling over me. It’s bliss. I feels as though I’m floating, but I can feel something soft beneath me. I’m not even thinking consciously, it’s more like I’m simply being. I’m in a cocoon of safety.

This feeling remains for what feels like an eternity.

What’s that? A noise. Quiet at first, but then suddenly it rips through the serene calm air around me. The darkness has gone, replaced with a greyer, slightly lit blur in front of my eyes. The noise still pertains. I can’t quite locate the source of it. Where is that noise coming from?

It’s all becoming more focussed. My hearing is gradually becoming sharper and as for that noise, I think I’ve found it. It’s emitting from right beside me, to my left, I’m sure of it. My vision is coming back. I can make out lines of what looks like a soft material surrounding me.

I can’t take that noise anymore. It’s driving me insane!

Raising my left arm, I bring it down on what I feel to be the source of the noise. A monumental crash echoes in my ears. Almost too scared to look at what I have just stuck, I peer out of my slowly receding net of safety. What I see, I instantly recognise.

It’s black, with a rectangle containing what looks to be red digits, but I can’t quite make them out, my eyes are still a tad blurry. But then, complete understanding hits me, and I’m more scared than I have ever been. This is it I think to myself another day has begun.

I sit upright, push what I now know to be a duvet off of me, stand up and begin the process of getting ready for work.

What was I ever afraid of?

I Think This Might be a Regular Thing

I wrote about what I did on Friday, and it didn’t go too badly, and, more importantly, it was fun. It essentially involved my writing about all aspects of the day, from the point of which I went into school, to the end of the day when I sat down to write the post.

As part of my plan on getting better at written work, I would like to do this sort of thing everyday. It might be a push, because of the other work that I have to do, but it should hopefully pay off in the long run.

It’s still not decided if I would actually write the at the end of each day, or wait until the end of the week and post all five days (Monday to Friday) in one long post.

There may be one of these appearing tomorrow, there may not.