Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trapped in a cycle of self destruction

So here goes, I have a problem, I know I do and I am so damn desperate to get out of it it's unreal.. but right now I honestly can't. 
Depression comes in many forms, and manifests itself in many ways. One of the most common if for the person to lose interest in their own welfare, stop caring for themselves, and go on a downward spiral of self destruction. And right now, that's where I find myself.

Over recent months, probably stemming back to late Jan early Feb when life all got a little crazy for me, my eating habits have quite simply gone to shit. I have gone from a health crazy, pretty fit 39yr old, to a sack of crap, junk food eating, exercise dodging cuddly guy, and that's putting it nicely.

Each week I promise myself that THIS is the week I get back on the wagon, this is the week I start caring, but it doesn't change. I buy crap food, chocolate, biscuits, snacks of all kinds. Probably spending 3-4 times a day more than the sensible options would cost. By the end of the day, feeling sick from all the crap I have eating, I kinda hate myself for doing this to myself, and go to bed bloated and feeling almost physically sick.
But the next day I do it all over again.

I have proven to myself and others time and time again that I have willpower, determination and great mental strength, but right now the whole lot has simply abandoned me.

I'm not sure if it's a coping mechanism, just blocking out all the stresses and bad things in life right now, a co-conspirator with depression, or just a phase I'm going through. After all let's face facts, I do yo-yo when it comes to weight.

Whatever the case, I'm sick of it, I don't want to be this person anymore. I want my fitness back. I love that feeling of tight muscles, aches from training, definition slowly creeping through, and all around feeling good about myself. 
BUT, yes, another but... I can't bring myself to fail again. I don't want to try and fail within weeks. I'm lacking motivation right now, even though health and longevity of life should be more than enough for me.

I need to draw a line in the sand, set a plan, find some internal or external drive. Right now, I need a life preserver, quite literally. To stop this spiral, to stop me heading for the gutter, and to get me back on my feet again.

I'm trying here, getting it out there. Recognition and admission of issues are usually the first step to salvation, so let's hope this blog entry is just that step.

Thanks as ever for reading.

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fanatical, radical, extremist....

So obviously the next two words are 'muslim terrorist'... Or are they?
Actually no, they are not the next words, but they are the words that you would expect a child in today's society to associate with the first 3 words, or indeed the words that some people in society would like you to  think of every time you hear those words.
The current generation of kids and young people are bombarded with this word association game all the time, in conversation, on the TV, and in the newspapers. Everywhere we look we are being told that fanatical, radical or extremist is just another word for 'muslim' Just as past generations have dropped 'vacuum cleaner' for Hoover, or other items and activities for a brand name, so today's generation are fast believing that all radical fanatics will obviously be Muslims too. This is a serious issue, and one which anyone who cares truly about their country and younger generations should care about also.

First off, lets see what the words REALLY mean.

Fanatical...
describes someone whose admiration for something is considered to be extreme or unreasonable:His enthusiasm for aerobics was almost fanatical.Gary's fanatical about football.

Radical
believing or expressing the belief that there should be great or extreme social or political change:He was known as a radical reformer/thinker/politician.These people have very radical views.

Extremist
someone who has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable:a group of extremists (= people with extreme opinions)

OK, so none of the above cite a particular race, religion, nationality or anything else specific for that matters. What it DOES describe is a group of people who's views are NOT shared by the majority. People driven by  beliefs not shared by the mainstream, and groups who are seen as outsiders so to speak by the majority of society.

I can totally understand where the anger towards sick people who carry out vile actions against other humans comes from. It makes me as angry as the next person, and I don't want to share my society with people like this. But the key here is 'people' like this, not races or religions like this. We all have many tags and live under many banners in life, from our support of sports, to our choices of foods. Clothes we wear, brands we buy, hair colour and style, but we rarely find ourselves branded by these things.
Its only when groups or individuals start to categorise people, start to group them together, and make associations that things start to go wrong. But of course, depending which group you belong to, the beliefs can be very right or very wrong.

In the 80's and 90's in the UK, the country was FULL of groups like these, groups we seem to have forgotten about quite conveniently in order to focus our attention and in some case, our hatred, towards Muslims.
Growing up in those times I don't ever recall hearing chants of 'go home you pale white Irish terrorist wanker' to every Irishman who walked the streets. I refer of course to the long forgotten and seemingly forgiven IRA, who carried out dozens more attacks on British people and British soldiers. Allow me to draw your minds back to this event... See who can actually remember it for starters..

The corporals killings was the killing of corporals David Robert Howes and Derek Tony Wood, two British Army soldiers of the Royal Corps of Signals, on 19 March 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The out-of-uniform soldiers were shot by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), after they drove into the funeral procession of an IRA volunteer. Three days beforehand, loyalist volunteer Michael Stone had attacked an IRA funeral and killed three people. Believing it to be another loyalist attack, dozens of mourners attacked the soldiers' car. During this, Corporal Wood drew his service pistol and fired a shot in the air. The soldiers were then dragged from their vehicle, beaten, driven to nearby waste ground, stripped and shot dead. Because it was fully captured by television cameras, the incident has been described as one of the "most dramatic and harrowing images" of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

This is one simple example of a whole host of actions carried out by a terrorist group who came long before Al Qaeda, by Christians, possibly against other Christians, but all clearly justifiable right? Do we go on today preaching how Christianity is an evil and vicious religion, and that Christians should be driven 'back home' to where they came from. Or worry about 'radicalised Christians' ? Why ever not?

The fact of the matter is, people choose to use religion as a tool or terror for one simple reason. Mass belief. Not in their causes, but of their apparent faith. And by the media and hate groups constantly associating hatred towards people of the UK with Muslims, the ignorant hate groups, the nationalist groups who believe they are somehow representing the people of the UK, this whole cycle is perpetuated until its a violent, hate filled., bloody mess that it is right now.

Lets take a step back to the nationalist groups for a second.
Lets flip things here shall we. The media and bigots would have you believe that Islamist and Muslims are evil and violent, and filled with hatred towards the people of the UK.
HOWEVER...
The EDL, and other nationalist groups would like all foreign nations to believe that the whole of the UK follows the beliefs of the EDL, and that their ideal are shared by the masses..... Well they are not!
And for that reason alone, you find yourself in an awkward position. Let me recall now, 'a person or group with radical views considered by the majority to be extreme'... This actually almost puts the hate groups in the same leagues as those carrying out hate crimes against the UK.

My point here is, ANYONE trying to force and extreme view into the mainstream. Anyone who uses hate and lies against another group of people, makes threats of violence, and demands the removal of another group from society simply for having a religion, or being born into another race, in my eyes is an extremist, and should be treated the same way all other extreme groups are. With contempt of a civilised manner.

I could go on all day, but those who believe they have a cause to fight for will never agree, and those who are open minded enough to form their own opinions, live by decent morals, and respect the masses will do just that. For that reason, we should agree to disagree, and leave it at that.

I have no religion or faith, I am familiar with losing loved ones to illness, accident and hate. I have experienced quite a few cruel and sickening things in life, and consider myself to be just another member of the human race. A race which has no place for gangs, thugs, or hatred without cause. Just for one second, take a few deep breaths, take a few steps back, and take society in general for what it is. The masses go about their daily life without issue, interacting with people of all colours, races, beliefs and both sexes without thinking twice. Its not hard to treat people as individuals, and 99.9999% of the worlds population just want to live a long and healthy life.

Stop with the media hysteria and sensationalism of these stories, stop the sheep like following people have believing everything they are told, and form your own opinions, don't be fed it by others.

2 men brutally murdered another man in the streets of Woolwich this week. They CLAIM it was in the name of Islam, they CLAIM it was revenge for treatment of Muslims. They were also born and raised right here in the UK, educated in the UK, socialised in the UK. But wait, they were black, so that's a bad sign right? And they claim to be of the Muslim faith, so they are terrorists of course.... So many associations with so many groups, but does not detract from the truth, that 2 men killed another man. It happens around the world daily. Maybe not as brutally and blatantly, but evil killings occur daily. But for some ideological reason, it is not until the words Muslim or Islam are uttered that anyone pays the slightest bit of attention.

I'm going to stop now, as thinking about the ignorance that surround us is really quite frustrating and upsetting.

Simple message.... Be your OWN person, your own leader, and not the follower of someone else.




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Isolation within a crowd.Marbles in my mind.

Having had days to dwell on how im feeling right now, I have finally stumbled across this explanation  which I might add is an old one. Have you ever stood in a crowded room, surrounded by people you know, yet still felt alone? If so, then welcome inside my head right now.

Its a strange sensation, feeling like if you screamed for an hour, no one would hear it or even know you are there. While you hold conversation with the people around you all day long, and spend the whole time talking, at the same time you feel like there are conversations within you that cannot be had, exchanges of words needed, but no one to share them with. Its like being trapped inside your own head, with no one else to talk to.

By not being able to mentally reach out, all the conversations you are having in there just bounce around aimlessly. As we all know every good conversation leads to other conversations. So now put that inside a trapped mind. Imagine a marble rolling around in a box, each time a new conversation arises, another marble is added. And so it carried on, until instead of having that annoying nagging thought, or marble rolling about, it is dozens of them, crashing around inside your mind, making so much noise that day to day happenings seem impossible to deal with.

Its strange, hard to explain, how I can carry on functioning with doing things like writing this blog in a way which seems to make sense, but at the same time, other things, simple things from my day to day life just seem impossible to cope with or carry out. This morning I found every excuse possible not to walk the dogs, to avoid interaction with people, as it would just irritate me. Yet an hour later I was fine to get on a train to come to work and sit in a noisy office. And maybe thats just it...

Maybe the noise around the office, the strangers on the train etc all add up to be a distraction from ME! Not needing to engage in personal conversations, not having time to think about my life and myself, is just what I need right now, So for that I am very grateful.

But at the same time I am still left with the marbles. Ultimately they all need a way out of my head, all need dealing with, however at this time there is no logical way to get them out. Offers from friends to chat are gratefully accepted, but I feel like a burden to sit there saying 'me me me' all day long. It reminds me too much of people I already loath for doing just that. So I am still left with the quandary of how to get these thoughts out.
The big issue is the sensation of loneliness even WITH company. Dog walks in the evening have recently fallen silent with me just keeping my thoughts to myself, not wanting to touch on certain situations and conversations which have already been had a thousand times. But the problem is, half of the marbles in my mind are about these matters. Matters I cant control or change, but are driving me insane and eating away at my actual soul on a daily basis.

I guess time will take care of most of these things, then when the root is killed off, the weeds will die, or at least I hope so. If not I might just go completely crazy.

So for now, as I close this blog, its like a snail going back inside its shell. I just came outside into the wilderness to share these thoughts, and maybe even try and feel a little better by putting them out there. But now its time to go back inside, and back to the darkness of my mind, and the noise of the marbles crashing about inside my mind.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 20, 2013

At war with my demons.

Once again my demons of depression rear their ugly heads, and the pit of despair opens wide to try and swallow me up. Small things becoming the teeth of the demons, ready to consume me in a single vicious bite. An all too familiar feeling for me, and as usual there is no true reason for them to have broken free of their shackles.

My part here is to know what is happening, fight back, and refuse to allow them to catch me this time. Knowing all the warning signs of these bouts is key for me to fight back like this, and getting a grip on it early is important if I stand a chance of escaping without a mark on me.

Lack of energy, happy to sleep forever, no drive, and a touch of self loathing from time to time. Not to mention being emotionally delicate, and living on a short fuse. All the signs that things are going badly wrong in my head at this moment.

Why you ask? I have NO idea at all. Yes I have some stress in my life at the moment, but nothing worthy of feeling like shit. But I have a plan.

Not ignore it, not run away and hide, but to fight with every conscious thought I have each day. Refusal to let these little things weigh me down with doubt, anger and sorrow. Instead, turning negatives to positives, making the most of any situation thrown at me, and working towards the brightness of sunshine and happiness that awaits me on the other side.

As Waiting all Night (Rudimental) suddenly cues and plays into my ears, I picture the video and remember that the key to overcoming adversity and barriers in life is a two step progress. Positive mental attitude, and surrounding yourself with great people. Well I have the people, and I have the self belief, so it's just a matter of mixing them properly now to make it work out for me.

Typing furiously here, trying to get all these thoughts out of my mind and onto the WWW is a battle in itself, but something I need to do from time, now more than ever.

My name is Michael Snasdell, and from time to time I struggle with depression. I'm not ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to admit it, and nor should anyone be.

Thank you for reading. That in itself helps, believe me, being heard, seen and recognised is part of the process here. 

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Sunday, May 19, 2013

And so it began. Tribute tattoo for Aunt Joan

My last entry kinda hit on the fact that I was heading off to get a new tattoo started, my Welshanese Dragowl as I like to call it. The date has been set for a while now, and the plans were in place, so getting it started was paramount to me.
Would it help get my head straight, would I begin closure, would it look right side by side with mum on my chest. Well, the answer is yes, to all of the above, and I am seriously relieved about that.

Everything isn't rosy now, my head is still a bit messy to say the least, but the important thing is, it's on the road to recovery.

As far as the tattoo goes, finally having the template laid out was great to see, and realise just how big a piece I had asked Michelle to do as a starter piece. All the aspects were present, on the right scale, and in the right layout. All I can say at this point is, after 3 hours of having it all lined in, I am stoked to see how this is gonna turn out now. I already have additional plans for it.

Speaking of those plans, allow me to elaborate a little . Florian Karg, a fantastic artist with quite a unique style, has inspired me to add a piece between the two pieces tying them in together, and helping them make sense. The co-ordinates (in degrees) for Puffin Island, where the ashes for mum and Joan will be scattered, on my chest, possibly in smoke as a background, in a very unconventional style, both type face and layout. 

So, I shall leave you with the pictures of the first session.

Thanks for reading.


Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The canvas is ready, bring on the ink!

Another tattoo project begins, this time my right chest plate, pec, moob, whatever ya wanna call it.
This piece is a tribute to my late Aunt Joan, who passed away in Feb. It will sit next to mums tribute piece (her sister).

The theme is Welshanese aka Welsh and Japanese. With a Jap style dragon in Welsh flag pose. Along with an owl in the background, a favourite of my aunt.

So here is the canvas, let's get going.

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hello Tweetonians.

Just thought I would say hello in person to anyone visiting my blog from Twitter today, thanks to the #FF from Blackberry UK which I received, awww :)

The tweet went a little like this.

Fame at last eh.

Feel free to have a nose through some of the entries about both the Z10 and Q10. Good and bad points, and honest reviews of my experience with them both.


This week's goes to who's been taking awesome snaps via his &

End of another week.

As I board the train for one last trip to work this week, a smile radiates from within, with the knowledge that after the next six hours I will be free to be me again. And I can't wait!
Drifting off into my own little world on my BlackBerry while travelling to work, with the sounds of Chris Brown in my ears, I'm ready for whatever the day has in store for me. I know it's not going to be a pretty one, and the weekend is going to seem a long way off in half an hours time, but the goal is worth it.

Tomorrow afternoon I start another tattoo project which I have named the 'Welshanese Dragowl' The name explains it's roots and meanings really. A Japanese themed piece with undertones of Welsh. Featuring a Japanese Dragon in the pose of the Welsh dragon, and an owl in the background.

I am hoping that having these first three hours of the piece will help me work towards the closure on the matter that I really need right now. Dragging on forever is the only way I can describe what's happening right now. And like all other big things in my life, marking it with ink is a must, and always helps me remember why it's important to me. The bleeding during the inking is almost the bad of the situation bleeding out of me and freeing me of its poisons. Thats my thought on it anyway.

So tomorrow at 2pm it all begins, as ever with the wonderful Michelle Collenette  of Innocent Needle Tattoo's in Croydon.

So that's me, as we approach my station, it's time to face the work that stands between me and my freedom. As usual, expect pics and text to follow with updates on the ink. 




Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blackberry Q10 sunlight display test.

While sitting on a train platform this morning, browsing through Crackberry, a common gripe came up again, the brightness of the screen in sunlight, so I thought I would take some pics with the Z which doesn't currently have HDR, so all pics are true.

Excuse my face being in the pictures, but as you can see the reflection coming off the screen is rather harsh. So it serves a purpose. I also snapped the skies at the time too to show what the screen was being exposed to at the time.

With the screen set to its usual 30% brightness, and my sunglasses on or off, as usual I am able to use the phone with ease on a range of screens with no issues at all.

Needless to say, trying to pick out fine details in a colour picture would be a little challenging and require an element of shading from the sun. But general day to day use, BBM etc on the move is absolutely fine, for me at least.

I don't think anyone doubts that there are a few handsets out there with screen issues. And also it's no secret that there are other devices out there which have better sunlight legibility. 
But this blog is for those wondering if all the negative reports they are reading are true. For those doubting my previous comments that I can use my Q10 on a bright day without stress, and to back up the others who say the same as me...

The BlackBerry Q10 in direct sunlight is NOT useless, it's usable, clear and the AMOLED is fine.

We all have different expectations of our devices, and I think the feedback the Q has received has shown this. But the screen being poor in sunlight is just a myth! One of many I might add.

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The woes of Type and Go on BB10 10.1

For anyone with a BB10 device running 10.1 software, you will of course know about Type and Go. Universal search on steroids as I call it. The ability to type a few letters from any home screen and start carrying out an action from that point. For example 'tw hello' will generate a result screen offering to post a tweet saying hello. (as pictured) 'em' will offer composing an email and so on.

Now this is fantastic, and rather than opening the twitter app, pressing compose new, and then starting to type, you can just start to type. Saves a few swipes, which will be great news to those who moan about all the swiping they have to do on this new OS.

However, if you dare to venture to things like 'em dav' or 'ca dav' the results are not quite so silky smooth. Calling Dave or emailing him should be a simple command, but using Dave as an example, most will have more that one of them in their phonebook. So instead of a simple result list of the 3 Daves in your phone book, it will list them all by every email address they have combined in there. If you have the contact linked to Facebook and other contact populating apps, you could find yourself presented with 10 email addresses, over kill maybe?

The solution here would be to have to results display the actual contact, as a singular name, from which you could then decide to pick the home, work, or private email of the person, rather than listing them all at once.

It's the same with the results for calls.

The solution is really quite a simple one, and I shall explain but not before saying this.

For years now, the act of sending an email has required a few presses here and there before we are ready to compose it, that's nothing new. So it really frustrates the hell out of me when an idea is put forwards to save a few milliseconds of your day, and sadly it doesn't work as well as was hoped. STOP being so bloody lazy and just do it the old way, it's really not a big deal.

For example, to start this email, from the home screen I typed 'em', compose email popped up, selecting that the compose screen appeared with the cursor in the address field, it typed 'bl' and it auto completed blog, and I got typing. Is that really a big deal? Seriously? Still seems pretty darn convenient to me.

Once again, I am aware that the address field of the compose email screen also digs through ALL your contact lists to offer you the email addresses of your contacts. And agree this is something that needs to be allowed to be filtered from a search setting. But that said, to others it's perfect. After all BlackBerry gave BB10 Balance which if being used would not be mixing in your private Facebook contacts with you business contacts list.

Something does indeed need to be done to allow the user some control over what appears where, but for now I offer a simple work around solution.

The contacts toggle screen pictured below allows you to sort out what shows in your main contacts list, so Facebook can be filtered out for example. The only real solution I can think of at this point, a quick fix, is to filter out the rubbish from your main contacts feed. Then when calling someone it may be easier to type 'co' select contacts from the results then start typing their name from the contacts screen. Slightly longer winded but effective all the same. Sadly these filters will NOT change what appears on the main type and go screen. 

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10


Monday, May 13, 2013

The final curtain

So, it's been a long journey that's for sure, over the past 6 months I have gone from visiting my aunt for her final Xmas with, spending time with her as she declined and moved into the home for a very short stay, and then finally spent time in Wales again to tie up the formalities and deal with all her affairs, with the assistance of Chris, for which I am eternally grateful.

Following the funeral in March, and the following visit to clear the house, the only remaining thing to come is the boat trip to Puffin Island to scatter the ashes of my mum and Aunt Joan.

I have to admit, for a multitude of reasons, this is probably the biggest dread of mine to date. So much going on, so many emotions on tap, and a few unknown quantities, which is something that always un-nerves me. So going it alone it really gonna suck. 

The plan is to spend the weekend in Wales, and to spend the respectful amount of time in the right places, and spend the rest of the time unwinding, reflecting and relaxing. With the date set towards the end of July, the weather should be quite forgiving, so the chance to spend some time in the wilderness will be nice.

Alone or with company, I'm sure I will cope, but one thing for sure is making the most of the time there, as this will be the last time I really visit Wales for something family related. There will be the sorting of the headstones etc, but this is the last specific family duty that will be carried out in Wales, period.

Right now I am just reflecting on the trip, thinking about what to expect, and filling up with a little dread and a hint of depression and stress about it all. All of which I'm sure will pass soon.

Lots of thinking to do right now, but that probably explains the poor nights sleep, and the hours spent listening to music til the early hours.

That's me for now.

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

My gripes about BB10 and the handsets

So before I get started on this entry I just want to make one thing clear as day, I am NOT taking a dig at Blackberry here. I just thought with all the fanboi style posts I have made recently, it was about time I balanced the books a little and made an entry about the 'not so good' aspects of BB10 as a whole, and its devices, the Z10 and Q10.

I have spent a lot of time on Crackberry recently, trawling through the forums, and getting into discussions here and there about things I feel are genuine issues, from my experience with the handsets and OS at least.
Now that I have used the Q for a couple of weeks now (getting there anyway) I thought now would be a good time for this. So lets get going.

First up, the debate over screen size and quality. With 17,000 views and over 350 replies, for a balanced discussion about these matters, this thread is the place to be.q10-vs-z10-screen-size-debate
The intention of this thread was to simply hear some opinions about why some chose the Q with the physical keyboard over the Z and touchscreen. And to see what made people sacrifice some screen real estate for the experience of real buttons. As you can see, it became quite popular, and for the main part actually quite interesting to get an insight into how people use their handset, and what they demand from them.

For me, this is how I see it.
The Z and Q both have superb screens, both to view, and to operate inside the BB10 OS. Ultimately one of the two devices is going to be my favourite, or daily driver. And it wasn't long after opening the box to the Q10 that I knew which it would be. Having spent a couple of months with the Z, and got to know its keyboard pretty well, there is no doubt that the Z10 touchscreen keyboard (TSK) was quite simply the best TSK I have ever used. Trying to switch between that and the Galaxy S2 screen is a nightmare, with the S2 seeming slow and unresponsive, let alone unforgiving. 
The Z really does put most others to shame, in fact I will go out on a limb and say its the best TSK on the market today. With its predictive word suggestions learning how you speak, and its forgiving nature and smart auto correction, you can make a real mess of a whole sentence, and the Z will get what you mean, and sort it out. A bit like the relationship between doctors and pharmacists.

BUT, this is a gripe post remember, so lets get into the nitty gritty here.
As intelligent as the software for the TSK is, it can get a little carried away at times, and its intelligence and smart learning becomes its achillies heel. Make a typo too many times for a word it doesn't know to auto correct, and it will learn the typo, and use it to replace other attempts at the right word.
Example, I have a bad habit of typing 'ypu' instead of 'you'. By pressing the spacebar after making the typo after a while will actually confirm the word is indeed RIGHT. So it will now replace you with ypu on a regular basis. This is partially my fault for not seeing the word appearing and correcting it, and over time I can correct it in one of two ways...
1/ clear all the learned words and start over. Removing a single word from the catalogue is not an option at this point. 
2/ watching the space bar, and concentrating each time I type the word, and each time ypu appears, correcting it until the phone learns not to use it anymore.
Sadly both solutions require me to be less productive to solve a simple issue, admittedly of my own making.

The next issue with the touchscreens now moves onto the Q10. Like the 9900 was at launch, the screen of the Q10 is a little desensitised, and the last few mm's of the edges seem to have no real abilities. The line between bezel and beginning of the display is the issue here. The most common issue users are reporting is the lack of response to the End Call key. Frustratingly hammering away on the red part of the screen, long press, short burst of presses, but no end to the call. 
I have to be honest here and say that since the OS went from .238 up to .273 it seems less of an issue for me at least. There are other times when the screen seems a bit awkward to use, with the selection of small areas at the edge of the screen being problematic. On the odd occasion by pressing the very edge of the screen, you will actually select something that is just OFF screen. Almost as if the phone thinks it is displaying a slightly longer or wider image than it actually is. (if that makes sense)

Staying on the theme of screens, the other complaint that seems to be getting touted about is screen legibility in daylight. With the Q10 packing a sharp and crisp AMOLED display, the legibility of the screen for me on a bright sunny day has never been an issue for me. That said, if you don't keep your screen clean, that's when I notice the legibility becoming an issue, as the smears more than anything else cause the reflective issues. Others however state that regardless of how bright the settings are put at, reading the screen, along with the dark theme are simply impossible. Now we all have different eyes, and live in different countries, so I'm not going to doubt anyone here. But at the same time others, some well respected commentators on Blackberry and mobile devices, state they have NO issue whatsoever with reading the screen, day on day, in rather sunny parts of the world.

Like everything, all opinions are relative, so there is no right or wrong anywhere in this blog, just my own observations, and quotes from others with similar findings.

Lets get away from the screen now and dig a little deeper. How about the depths of the OS?
Now one of the big selling points of BB10 is the 'active panes'. For those not familiar, let me explain quickly. All mobile OS's these days claim to have true multitasking, leaving one application running properly while another is opened and used. The Blackberry way of doing this is to use active panes, this is where an application is minimised on the screen along with other apps that are running. Each of these applications is then capable of displaying a condensed version of its content while minimised. So for example a weather app will show a summary, a news feed will show individual headlines. 
I have to say the active panes are a great little thing, especially for watching for replies to tweets, or keeping an eye on the weather without constantly opening the apps. 
But again, this is about gripes so here goes again.
3rd party app devs seem to have really grasped the concept well, and made the active panes really used full, Blaq, CB, BeBuzz, all having great active panes.
BeBuzz, what is generally a notifications app have had the sense to use their active pane as a battery monitor, a great and helpful little tool especially with its 'time left' section.
However, Blackberry, the creators of these great little panes seem to have done very little with them at all. 
My example would be a simple one, the native clock.
Now the clock has 4 views. Normal clock, World Clock, Stopwatch and Timer. The most common one for me to keep open is the timer, being able just to flick the screen on to see how much time is remaining. Frustratingly, the native app minimised to the clock app only. So regardless of what display would be of use to you, you are left with just the simple clock view. I'm sure there has to be a way that the timer and stopwatch could minimise into usable active panes. If 3rd party devs can do it, come on Blackberry, sort it out.
Digging in a little deeper we start to find a few more little frustrating niggles that really get a bit irritating.
Type and Go function as a whole is a great idea, and can really speed up certain processes, such as sending a simple tweet, or FB update from within the OS. Simply typing 'tw' then starting to compose the tweet will see Type and Go offer the 'send tweet' option when you are done typing. Press it, and its done tweet sent. No opening apps, pressing compose etc, its all done simply and effectively from the home screens of the OS.
BUT (gripe time)
If you want to send an email you have a couple of options, and this is where it gets a little sticky. Typing 'em' will prompt the device to offer 'compose email' at this point. So you can press the option there, then immediately start typing the contacts name, which will present the list of options matching the letters entered, or after 'em' a space then start typing the contact name. Now both these are super efficient ways of getting an email started, there is no doubting that for a second, the problem however lays with the search function itself. Now I should add here that until the issue was raised, I had not noticed it. But once it was mentioned it is something you just become aware of.
Throughout the search settings of the device you can tell the OS where it should look for the information. Different apps, areas of the phone, and indeed 3rd party databases too. Sadly for some reason, the search parameters do not apply to email, so as you start to type the contact name, it will offer every contact matching the characters, including from apps like Facebook and Twitter. 
For those only using their devices for personal use, this is nothing more than a minor irritation. For those using it as business and personal, it becomes a little more of a headache. Contacts who have linked profiles within your device, it will drag down and offer every email address for them. Some might find this helpful, others a hindrance. Either way, it would be nice to have a little control over it.

The next issue for me, again deep within the heart of the beast is notifications.
Back in the days of OS7 the notification settings were so very simple. A little bland to look at, a little too simple maybe with drop down menus and separate sections of in and out of holster etc. The drop downs would offer a whole list of sounds which on selecting it, you could then hit 'try' and you would hear what you had chosen. 
For some reason with OS10 Blackberry have decided that simple was not the way, and nor was having options. Instead the new settings allow a few choice sounds and very little more. To get anything other than what they offer, you need to start browsing the device, and in doing so you dive into a complex sub menu after sub menu of places to find sounds. You are not able to preview the sound, instead you select it and return to the notifications screen. Upon which, if the sounds is not to your liking, you start over again.
I would love to have the simplicity of the notifications back. Heck they even took away all the sounds most of us were so familiar with.
Even the volume of the notifications is dumbed down to one simple slider that is the master control for all sounds within that notifications status, be it normal, loud, work etc. I loved the control of making one email far louder than the rest, hard to miss, and in my face, but at this point OS10 isn't going to allow that at all!

Along with notifications comes my beloved BeBuzz, the custom LED app which gives a custom colour flash to notify of emails from each account, and 3rd party app notifications too. For years now it has been my backup notifications, so if I miss the sound, I would have a visual notification which would repeat. Even with the phone on silent, I knew exactly which notifications awaited me without having to pick the handset up. Sadly with OS10 this isn't quite as smooth as it could be, mainly because the app must remain in an active pane to allow it to work. One simple closure of the wrong app results in NO LED notifications.
My gripe about this? Well its simple. With later versions of OS7 allowing this as a native app through certain carriers (so I am told), I was really hoping that the all singing and dancing OS10 would present us with the coloured LED options from within notifications settings. Alas, its not the case. So notifications are stripped out, dumbed down.... and still on boring old RED !

With all that said and done, I am still left applauding Blackberry on their amazing transition from being old and stuck in their ways, to the modern day, all singing, all dancing devices. People will always have a pop, whatever the state of the OS. When OS7 was the current system people commented on how out of date and boring BB now was, and how if they didn't move into the 21st century BB would fail for sure. Boring interfaces, physical keyboards, and tiny screens. 
Out came the Z10, lovely screen, great new OS in its infant stage, and a true new kid on the block, stepping the game up with its buttonless design and gestures for navigation. Needless to say, the opposition said it was a failure before it even got going, the legacy hardcore users said it was an insult to Blackberry, and the people in the middle bought it and formed educated opinions of it.
My opinion has always been simple. If physical keyboards stopped existing tomorrow, I now know I would have the safety of the Z10's beautifully thought out TSK to turn to. My productivity would drop, my web usage would plummet, but I would be able to use a device without wanting to smash it on the floor.

Then it was the Q's turn. The TRUE next generation of Blackberry in my opinion. Taking a proven system, a great form factor, and firing it way into the 21st century. Again, unable to please all of the people all of the time, there have been again been critics who feel it is blasphemy against all that Blackberry stands for, to launch a device like this. Complaining that keyboard shortcuts are missing which make the device SO unproductive, that other features are not present, and that its not a proper Blackberry without them.

Well, I guess to a degree I join those whiners, with my rant and gripes above. But with one key difference.
My comments, feedback, reviews, and suggestions are just that. I accept that BB10 is a new OS, and has a long way to go yet. Heck no OS has even been perfectly rolled out with no changes needed to it. And in its first few usable releases, I think OS10 has proven itself to be something that will really grow into something great. My comments are not meant to mock or put down this infant OS, but are there to create conversation, to put across my point of view, and hopefully in some small way, contribute towards the direction that the OS takes as is continues to evolve.

One final thing though...

BBM Groups, what the hell happened there?
After not having used groups for years now, I thought it would be nice to have a group for photography a few days ago, so out went the invites. After 10 or so joined, a few friends started commenting that they could no longer see the group, or had received weird notifications saying they could not join 'another' group as they were already at their devices maximum... then showing NONE! 
Being kicked out of a group is one thing, but what happened next is where it all gets worrying. Reports then started that peoples phones, from BBM to the whole OS had dramatically slowed down, some saying it was almost unusable. A couple even resorting to restoring their handsets, and one returning theirs to a store for an exchange, so bad had the issue got.
All issues that I am aware of occurred on a Blackberry Z10, most if not all were running OS 10.0. My Q10 on 10.1 seems unaffected by the issue. Either way, I hope the rollout of the fix for this is swift. Mainly as the BBM Groups function is now rather lovely, and I would love to get a group up and running again, but don't want people screwing up their devices to join.

Right, that will do me for now, I'm sure I will have other moans and songs of praise over the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dear Blackberry trackpad

My dearest trackpad, old friend, and great companion.
You came into my life in 2009, replacing my trackball, and making so much sense. An optical device replacing a physical ball that was oh so prone to getting clogged up when using the phone with greasy fingers or dirty hands. The way you reflected sunlight with that beautiful purple glow. Functioning with or without gloves, in all conditions, you changed the way I used my Blackberry forever.

Being able to zip around the screen with ease, selecting text, and accurately placing the pointer over the smallest of links, your accuracy was super. No more stuttering and spluttering across the screen as the trackball registered, then didn't, then did......

As first people doubted your ability to do what the faithful trackball could, like the move from a mouse with a ball to an optical mouse, its a big leap of faith for some. But the package the 8520 offered, complete with you, made it worth that leap of faith. After months of becoming best friends, you made your way onto the 9700 which just had to be mine.

As time went on it seemed like trackpad and Blackberry were a match made in heaven, but then this happened.... That's right, you know what I'm talking about.. YOU! You left me!

The first new handset to appear without you was the Z10, and of course it made perfect sense that you were not there, its a touchscreen after all. But then rumours of the Q10 appeared, and you were no where to be seen. They told us we would be OK without you, that things had moved on, we had changed and grown apart, but I wasn't so sure. When the day came when it was time for the Q10 to come into my life I was worried, would I cope?

So a week after getting my hands on the new love of my life, I thought it only fair to write you a letter to tell you how I am getting on without you, and to be honest, most of the time I don't think about you too much. But from time to time, there are those moment when I remember how you felt to use, and how easily we did some things together. Selecting text in long emails, selecting multiple messages to delete or move, and all those delicate and intimate things that only you could do.

Blackberry have given us options to move on from you, and I have to say I think I'm falling in love all over again, but I cant deny you were an important part of my life, and I will always remember you, and occasionally pine for you.
Thank you for everything you did for me, and all the fun times we had together.






PS for those a little worried, this is just a light hearted entry, and I have not lost the plot.... I lost that a LONG time ago!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One week later... My Blackberry Q10

Well its coming up for a week now since the mainstream launch of the Blackberry Q10, and I thought it was time to hammer the keyboard of the laptop for a while and give the Q a bit of a break. So while Z and Q sit on the side and rest for a bit, lets take a look at my first week (almost) with my latest Blackberry.

So, the Blackberry Q10 is the second handset to be launched from Blackberry since they changed their name from RIM. Sporting the almost entirely new BB10 operating system, its a far cry from my first Blackberry which was an 8320. Not quite as ancient as some out there who rocked the side scroller, but certainly old enough to remember how very different the operation of a Blackberry was then. That was WAY back in 2007. In fact its only in writing this entry that I had any idea I have been using a BB for 6 years now. Then again, given just how many of them I have got through in that time, maybe that's about right.
For those not in the know, this is an 8320..


Back then I could send and receive email while I was on the move, and occasionally if needed, check things on the internet. Browsing then was more necessity  than social and passtime. Oh how things have changed. But very quickly, if there is one thing I have never got over, it has to be the contrasting keys. With the numerical keypad being reverse colours, making it easier to type numbers. Small issue, and would totally ruin the current Q10, but that's my gripe over with.

So, leaping forwards a few years, and blasting past the 8520, 9700, 9900, and Z10 that all followed the first one, and we arrive at the current day. The first fair thing to say is, having experienced the progress from one device to the next, going from a trackball to the trackpad, and then to the trackless device, the progress has been tiresome at best, sometimes sitting so still, that to be a BB user felt like you were in a timewarp and heading backwards while the world around you shot forwards.

Well those days are gone now, and finally it feels like us BB users are on an even playing field with the rest of the smartphone users out there. I would even be so bold as to say that in some respects, we are a step ahead. In one respect a Q10 user has one asset to their disposal that no other real smartphone user has, and that's a physical keyboard. Sure there are other phones out there with physical keyboards, but at this point, none have the same processing power or abilities as the Q.

So, back on track, there was a first week with a Q10 meant to be going on here...

Receiving the box from the courier, the package was very small, and remembering how the Z10 had come packaged I knew what to expect. A phone, a battery, a SIM, a data cable and charger plug, and a cheap pair of headphones. So on opening the box and taking everything out, I was delighted to find a pair of the new premium headphones in there, and a week later I am still over the moon with them. The right balance between sound quality while maintaining some awareness of whats happening around you, like traffic.

Putting the phone together it was then time to see this glass weave battery cover there has been so much talk about. Having been torn between white and black handsets and finally settling for black, I was relieved when I finally felt the back cover in my fingers. Having used a Z for 2-3 months, I have grown used to the level of grip the back of that offers. All the preview images showed the glass weave for the black, and the Z10 style textured back for the white. Having never been happy with the back of the 9900, I was concerned the Q10 would be slippery with its glass weave... WRONG. Its lovely waxy and soft feel give it great grip in the hands, and belay any worries about letting it slip. So off to a good start then.

Powering up for the first time, I knew most of what to expect, with having been baptised into the world of BB10 with using the Z for a few months. All that was left to see was how well the gestures, screens and software would work with this new, non smiling physical qwerty.
Once the introductions were made it was time to get on with the formalities of setting the device up. First up, time to set up a new account, as you obviously cant run two devices on one Blackberry account. Even with the demise of BIS, things like Blackberry World, and Protect require you to have an account for each live device you are running. Obviously a straight device swap would just require logging in with your existing details. With new username and account running, it was time to get to know the Q.

Starting with what most would consider THE important part of a smartphones soul.. Apps! Personally to me they are a nice addition, but I am pretty content with the standard package of native apps on the BB10 devices, they do most things I want to do on a day to day basis. However, having already added a good few to the Z10's arsenal of weapons, I thought it only fair to equip the Q equally.
I would have liked to have done this, but sadly there are a few apps which have not yet ported over. Yes, its that age old problem, right OS, wrong device. And with the different form factors of the two being so far apart, it would be wrong to expect all apps to work out of the box. The only one I actually pine for right now is BeBuzz, no relation to Bieber!
I did however hear that Blackberry are helping the devs out by testing and automatically porting over any Z10 apps that are Q ready, and this should take place in the coming weeks. I sincerely hope BeBuzz is in there.

Speaking of native apps and software, I thought this was the right time to mention all is NOT well. While the 'shortfallings' of the Hub have already been discussed, I thought I would quickly touch on Twitter, and its native app on BB10. Yes its simple and easy on the eye, but its also pretty bland and a touch dumb too. The way it interacts with the contacts list for composing a tweet with a mention in it, the limited actions available from the app it self. It has a habit of repeating tweets, so on opening one, as it builds it will create a long list of the same text over and over. I wont go on for ages, but in short I find the native Twitter SO irritating, I wont use it. Instead I prefer to use Blaq, with its much nicer and more user friendly interface. Mentions on there are dealt with by a progressive search, with suggestions appearing at the top as you type the names. Unlike the native app which insists on opening a contacts list.

So working with the actual device on a day to day basis, I can only say its an absolute delight to use. I still switch between the Z and the Q, depending on which is closer to hand. The other deciding factor is what I am planning to do with the device, browse, view video or having a long blogging session or forum session.
I wont say gaming as that's truly not my forte, but know it is important to some people, and appreciate their needs.
Needless to say, having been housebound for most of the past week, forums like Crackberry have been my main haunt, and with the Q being the new kid on the block, the choice was pretty obvious. Me and the Q have spent some quality time over the past few days, putting it through its paces, and seeing what its really made of. Testing the battery to see what sort of beating it can take on a full charge. The camera seeing how all the different settings work, and what gives the optimal results, and of course the most important thing to me, seeing how well I can manage going back to a physical keyboard after months away.

With regards to the keyboard, a few days before the Q arrived I picked up my old 9900 for the first time in ages, and immediately became attached to the feel of keys under my thumbs again, could the Q really match that feeling. Well the short answer is yes! And exceed it too. Even though the difference is measured in millimetres rather than centimetres, the loss of the smile from the keyboard made me wonder how different typing would be. Well maybe its coming from the flatness of the Z, or maybe its just the difference in unnoticeable, but either way the new flat lines of the keyboard work fine, and typing is a joy. I am back in my old ways of typing for the sake of typing, and not having to stare at the sensationless buttons of a touchscreen while I do it. So keyboard is a big thumbs up.

Camera, I wont go on too much about it, but as I have said in previous entries, it is a more than capable camera, and pleasing for the average point and shoot user. If you are not happy with the results of the pictures, you probably need to start looking at using a proper camera rather than the relying on the camera on a cellphone and hoping for DSLR results. Yes there are other camera phones out there which have more scope, but the emphasis here is on the simplicity of the use of the Q10's camera.
Read more here... Q10 Camera Test

Speaking of what you see, the screen on the Q, the super AMOLED display is a lovely thing. Some have complained about the whites being grey, or there being saturation of blues, but somehow with all their knowledge, seem to have overlooked the technologies behind AMOLED. It is sharp, crisp, clear and bright. Sunlight legibility is fine with the right brightness setting, although mine resides around 30%

The battery, well I think it is fair to say that it unsurprisingly manages to out perform that of its counterpart. For someone who uses their phone every few minutes for something throughout the day, the Q does a fine job of lasting out the day without a charge. Managing beyond 12 hours for me by modern day standards is really quite a feat. Of course as I have said numerous times, there are many contributing factors to how long a battery will last a day, and it doesn't take a power user to drain a battery in under 12 hours. Process sapping apps, poor network connection, unused connections NFC, Bluetooth, Wifi, etc can all lead to the early demise of the battery too.

So in summary, before this day passes me by.
The Q10 is a very capable device, and should certainly meet all the wants and needs of the die hard physical keyboard fans. You don't have to be old or a technophobe to want to use a physical keyboard. its just a preference. Its productive, its comfortable, and lets be honest, its nice to be a little different. Although with the instant success of the Q10 I'm not sure how long you will stand out for, before you are running with the crowd.
Blackberry have done well with the device, making it current, powerful, and pleasing to use. Ticking all the boxes from both looks and performance stand points, the Q is here, and ready to shake up the smartphone market just ever so slightly, and prove one thing for sure..... The days of the physical keyboard are FAR from over, and as an additional note, Blackberry is very much alive, and here to stay....

Sorry haters :)

More discussions about the Q10, and more of my comments can be found on a popular thread on Crackberry, or on link below.

http://forums.crackberry.com/blackberry-q10-f272/q10-vs-z10-screen-size-debate-802693/

Thanks for reading.

Taming the Blackberry 10 Hub

Since the launch of the Blackberry Z10, there has been so much talk about The Hub. We saw it in the previews, and heard so much about how it was going to revolutionise the way we work with our mobile devices. Peek and Flow, gestures, unified inbox on steroids, we heard all of the comments, and in the demo's it sure did seem the best thing since sliced bread. Being able to peek into your inbox regardless of what you were in the middle of seemed ideal.

For some, the transition over to the hub has been pretty smooth. All the social accounts you use, all in one place, filter them by type if you so wish, or whack them all in together in The Hub itself. In general, I am one of those who is quite happy with the way it performs, and it does what it says on the box. It simplifies the way you communicate across multiple social platforms, all from one single place.

BUT... of course there is a but, this is me!
There are a few things, that possibly for the sake of sanity, or maybe just for functionality reasons that are not as I would like them certainly, so I shall go into a few now before I go on.

The first thing I noticed was a Twitter feed thing. On OS7.1 and before, periodically I would get a notification from twitter into my unified inbox that would say there were new tweets to view. Alas this does not happen with the hub. Now the reason for it is quite simple, only things directed at YOU will appear in the hub. Messages which may require you to respond are the only things of interest to the hub. Naturally it didn't take long to get used to this 'short falling' if you can call it that.
But while talking about Twitter, there is another thing. Mentions. When composing a new tweet and mentioning a contact in it, the long winded approach to adding their @ to the message is quite simply horrible. I don't want a drop down of all my contacts to appear, so I can then enter their name in the search field. What was wrong with the old way, or indeed the way Blaq manages them. Type an @ then start to type the name, and as you type the options appear to select from.
This plus the rather basic and lethargic layout of the whole native Twitter app are the reason I bit the bullet and got Blaq instead. Multiple accounts, real time feed, nice interface, and simple mentions.

After the Twitter thing was overcome, the next thing to understand was how the other apps integrated into the hub. Facebook for example, for a while I thought that I would be able to update my status from the hub also, but this again is not the case. You can compose direct messages on the hub for Facebook only. The same I should say is the case with Twitter.

In short, for those not quite au fait with the hub situation. The hub is ONLY used for direct communication with people, be it SMS, BBM, email, or via social networking apps.

Once you understand what it can do, the next thing to do is get it doing the things you want it do do for YOU, customise it.

This is where the confusion around the hub really starts, and if you were keeping up with what I have been rattling on about so far, hold tight, its about to get a little crazy around here.
Notifications in the hub are for all the native apps to the Blackberry 10 devices, and a little more, as shown below.



As you can see, quite a list there indeed. So can you cope with updates and history from all these feeds showing up in the one single inbox? Well apparently most cant, and it gets a little heated and hectic. The problem is, or is perceived to be, that if you turn them off in the hub management, you then lose the ability to use the feed. But this is not the case, allow me to explain a little. First up you need to get into the hub settings, the following sequence shows where you go to do this.

Firstly, go into the hub, and select the overflow menu, 3 dots, bottom right of the screen. Select settings.

Next up, from settings you want hub Management.

Once you have entered the hub management, you will be presented with the following screen. I'm pretty sure 90% have already seen all this, but just to be sure.

Right, now you are ready to decide what shows in your hub feed and what doesn't. There are important things to know here, so read carefully.

First up, emails, the hub is the only place on your Blackberry 10 device you can access these, so it is important to have your main accounts switched on. If you have other accounts that receive a lot of junk, but periodically get used for something more productive, I would say turn them off. I will explain why in a bit.
Next up are other forms of messages, BBM, SMS. This is where the options start. The BB10 devices come with BBM and texts available from stand alone icons. BBM from the actual app, and texts from its own icon to open JUST text messaging if you so choose. These applications do NOT have to be left open and running in an active pane to receive messages if you turn them off in the hub.

Same applies to your social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquares and so on.

Now to explain how to go about this.

By turning notifications OFF in the hub for any of these applications does not mean you wont receive messages through them, you will, and the hub will still take care of this for you. You just have to understand the slightly complex way in which it works. By turning them off in the hub, it simply means that the notifications will not automatically populate the hub. So when you turn twitter off for example, the device will still receive and acknowledge direct messages, and it will still tell you that you have them. It just wont display it.

An example for you to make it a little clearer. I have Twitter turned OFF in my hub, purely because I don't like the native app as I have explained before. Instead I use Blaq which I will usually leave running in an active pane, as I tent to use Twitter quite a lot. The Blaq app shows within the active pane if I have any mentions or direct messages, as well as new tweets to read. But what if I close the app, then how will I know if I get a message or mention.
While it is turned off in the hub, I wont see the message, but I will get a notification still. I will get an LED flash if set up for that application, I will get an icon on the lock screen, and I will also get a spark on the hub menu button (as pictured below)

Soon also I am hoping that we will see BeBuzz for the Q10 arrive, which will also allow you to have the addition of a specific colour flash on your LED.
So now you have your notification, its up to you to decide how you deal with it.
You can go to the hub and choose the particular inbox for that application, and view it there, or you can open it in the stand alone app. A BBM can be opened in the hub or on the app for example. One thing to note here is that third party apps wont update the hub. So if you get a mention on Twitter and open it in Blaq, the notification spark will remain in the hub until you acknowledge it.

So I guess what I am trying to say here is The Hub is actually a very clever and versatile notifications centre, which is highly customisable, but it is for the end user to make the effort to spend a few minutes going through it properly, setting up what you want to simply be notified of, and what you want to actually see populating your hub.

I hope this hasn't confused you more than it has helped.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Phone porn!

Just a few snaps of the sexy new BlackBerry Q10.
That's right, slow evening, but I liked how the pictures came out..

Taken on my BlackBerry Z10 haha

Regards
Michael

Sent from my BlackBerry Q10

Out in the wild, a proper test for the Blackberry Q10 camera

So after yesterdays quick test of the camera on the Q10, I thought it was time to get out and about an give it a bit of a better run through its paces. HDR vs normal, architecture, nature, people and motion (burst mode)

All pictures were taken in 16:9 aspect ratio, and with the mixed HDR and normal mode switched on.
I am not posting ALL the images taken in both HDR and normal for the sake of people reading. So will instead post a few examples of both, then the rest of the shots will be MY preferred picture of the 2.

So here is what became of the test. First up we have some simple landscape shots, across the open expanse of Blackheath towards the village. HDR and normal.



Next up, a walk through the entrance to Greenwich Park offered some lovely perspective shots, and some tree images which always appeal to me. One in particular is the picture I snapped of a single tree back in the winter. Sadly without the original image as reference I was unable to recreate the shot, but got a summer shot of it with the Q10 all the same.


Just for good measure, here is the winter shot too.


Next up, from the lookout point over Greenwich, and the historic buildings, right out to the Thames, it was time to get some landscape shots with far focal points, and varying subject matters. From long grassy fields, surrounded by the buildings, to close up shots of the architecture. The aim, to see how the camera can capture lighting differences, depth of field and colour reproduction. Again, I think it faired pretty well here. So a selection of my favourites.




Of the shots of the architecture, this following shot has to be my favourite. The normal mode of the camera capturing just the right balance between light and shade, and really pulling out the character in the buildings. All while working well with the bright skies above it.

From here, it was time for the obligatory columns and stair shots, so lets get them out of the way. Not my favourites by far, but thought it only fair to share the weak along with the strong shots.




Again of all the shots from this sequence, the following was my favourite, purely because of the way the image pops so well. Credit to HDR there.

Moving onto the world famous Cutty Sark, restored to all her glory, a perfect chance to see how much detail the camera can capture, while working with the lighting conditions. Again all shots were taken in both modes, but I have picked the ones I feel came out the best. The balance between a pleasing image, and decent level of detail. The rigging of the boat is the real test for the lense.


The second image I have posted in both normal and HDR, you can be the judge of what YOU like and dont like. I know which I prefer.



Onto the final sections now, thanks for hanging in there.
The walk back to the car took us through the local market, and I grabbed a few shots to really see what colour reproduction was like. I think its fair to say the colours really pop out of the pictures nicely here, and show what the camera can do as a simple point and shoot.




Right, last selection here, and its a few images taken on the road through the park. Some perspective shots using the yellow lines on the road as a subject, and the point closest to the camera as the point of focus, producing a pretty pleasing shallow depth of field, and the nice blurred back ground.
Finishing off with a couple of images of skateboarders racing down the hill, using the burst mode on the camera. I think it fair to point out that by this time I was getting a little tired and hungry, so rather than waiting for the right scene, I just did a few bursts and chose the best. Maybe burst is something I need to re-visit at some point soon.






So let me summarise now.
First up, this is the Blackberry Q10, the work horse of the family, and not the media loving Z10. Both are very capable units, and the Q currently benefits from having the newer OS 10.1 over the !0.0 of the Z. Which means it has slightly tweeked camera settings and the advantage of HDR (for now)
For such a handy little phone which already packs a huge punch with its physical QWERTY keyboard, its great social integration into its Hub, and its powerful web and messaging presence, to have a camera this capable on it is a true delight and bonus.
Coming from the abomination that was the 9900's camera this is chalk and cheese, night and day... you get the picture (no pun intended)
Its no DSLR, its not a crazy spec'ed Galaxy S4 with masses of settings and options.
Its a simple camera with the following choices
3 aspect ratios 1:1 4:3 and 16:9 (as used today)
4 modes, normal, stabilisation, burst and HDR (the handset also allows capture in a combo of HDR and normal at the same time, producing 2 images to choose from)
Flash, on, off or auto
And 5 scenes, Auto, Action, Whiteboard, Night and Beach or Snow

Compared to even the settings on my S2, the Blackberry Q10 is VERY simple to say the least, but images on the BB are more than acceptable.

Over all, I have to say I am impressed. I am sure that if the conditions were controllable, like indoor environment, and it was put up against some of the bigger dogs out there, there would be some surprises and maybe even some upsets here and there.

If anyone wants full size versions, or both HDR and normals of a specific shot, just let me know via comments or email.

But for now, thats the Blackberry Q10 camera out in the wild, and now back home safe and resting from its adventure.

Also, if you want to see the video camera being testing out in the wild today, the full HD test is right here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZv6d4cjWpE

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A quick Q10 camera test

After a couple of days of messing about with the phone, I thought with the arrival of some sunshine, maybe it was time to give the camera a field test.

So without further discussion, here goes.

First up some simple shots.

The pairs of pictures are examples of HDR vs standard camera pictures. I am torn between them. Sometimes the HDR over corrects the image to almost make it too even. See what you think.

More detailed blog to follow about the camera soon. But for now, enjoy the first of the bunch.