Omg, I’m in love with Android Pie!

The excitement in my belly when my phone alerted me to the fact that Android Pie was being dished out to the Pixel phones was unreal. I’ve been waiting a while for this latest Android instalment because I was told not only would the UI be different but that I would find I’d be using my phone less, which naturally, I love the idea of because I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows for sure that they’re glued to their phone all day every day.

At first appearances, the UI wasn’t strikingly different. The edges seemed more round, which was nice. However, when swiping between apps and screens, I found the transitions to be much smoother and more fluid and it felt and looked miles better. The recent apps screen now displays in a card format which is easy to navigate, although I’m not loving the fact that I have to scroll through alllll my recent apps to get to the “Clear All” function.

I’m currently running Android Pie on a Pixel XL and it’s fast. A noticeable difference from version 8, which froze a little and on occasion juddered its way through opening apps, version 9 is a walk in the park and actually a genuine joy to use. The notifications which pop up at the top of the phone also look better and smarter which is a nice touch and thankfully, my phone now also asks me if I want it to stop displaying notifications from some apps. I still can’t seem to get to grips with the clock now being on the opposite side of the top of the phone though… BUT, I do love that they’ve brought the instant silent mode back. No more keeping your finger on the volume down key to put your phone into vibrate or silent, you can change it again, like before, with the press of a button.

I was told that Google had worked very hard on the AI which was built into the latest firmware and so far I’ve found that (and I’m not sure whether it’s just coincidence or not) but when I mentioned at work about having to put my Google Playlist on because the radio was awful, I opened my phone and my Google Music app was ready and waiting in the shortcuts list. Aside from this, and the fact that my phone is slowly remembering which apps I tend to open at certain times of the day and which apps have messages or updates waiting for me, so show up in my shortcuts in the apps screens, I haven’t actually noticed any “AI” to speak of.
When first announced, one of Pie’s updated features was its battery saving tech. Whilst I’m not overly sure how it manages this, I have noticed that my phone has lasted ever so slightly longer than usual.
With regards to “using my phone less”, Google has introduced something called “Digital Wellbeing”. I looked all over my phone’s settings for this and it turns out that because it’s currently in Beta testing, you have to sign up for it. So I’ve signed up and checked it out. You can set timers on apps so that they lock out after a certain time and I’m not sure that this is a feature I would use, like my mum used to unplug the landline to disconnect the dial-up modem when I was younger and she wanted me to come off MSN Messenger and go to bed. I do however really like the idea of the “greyscale” mode, helping you to wind down at night.

All in all, bearing in mind I haven’t managed to test the Digital Wellbeing mode yet, I am absolutely in LOVE with this new version of Android. Best. Android. Yet.

Painting the Girl Cave (Not a Euphemism)

I’m terrible for changing my mind.  I used to do my dad’s head in by rearranging the entire downstairs of our house on a regular basis.  He would come home from work and go to put the TV on, only for it to have reappeared at the opposite side of the room.  Sometimes I could see a flicker of confusion when he walked through the front door, which was already unlocked, into a room which now had a completely different colour scheme and furniture, wondering if he’d walked into one of our neighbours houses by mistake.

Since he moved out two years ago, my boyfriend has been the latest victim of my indecisiveness.  I’ve had him completely revamp our kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom – I mean painting the walls a totally different colour, buying new furniture and hanging new things on the walls.

When he first moved in,  my bedroom was where his man cave is now and I had the little box room as my office.  I then decided we’d move our bedroom to the master bedroom which my dad had just vacated and I would turn my old bedroom into my girl cave, giving him my little box room for his man cave.  I rearranged my girl cave a half dozen times and then six months later I changed my mind and wanted my little box room back.  So we swapped rooms again.  I had a lot of stuff to move.

I’ve not been happy with the little room since moving back into it, it was very cold and grey and not very welcoming at all.  I had also ordered a monster of a computer desk which shortly after being assembled and used, I decided I hated and desperately wanted my old, crappy, second hand wooden PC desk back from the depths of the dusty garage.  I didn’t have the heart to tell my boyfriend that, since he nearly lost a couple of fingers and mildly missed being decapitated while erecting the new monster desk.  The desk is also black and gets dusty really quickly, which used to drive my OCD insane.  I couldn’t wait to get rid of it.  And I could see the glint in my boyfriend’s eyes at getting the opportunity of a nice new computer desk, hand-me-down PC and getting set up to be a PC gamer (sort of).

I had decided from the off that I really wanted my new theme to be calming and relaxing as opposed to funky and techie.  We went to Homebase and I trawled the paint aisle, sending my best friend photo after photo of colours that I thought might be nice – pinks, purples, baby blues and pastel greens.  I decided on a calming purple (which was reduced to £7.50 because it was discontinued – bargain) and bought some wood coloured floating shelves to replace the current nasty black ones.

My old crappy PC desk was my next project.  Back when I had my girl cave, it had been a God-awful 70’s brown colour and my boyfriend had half-assed painted it white.  It still looked awful because he had only painted where he could see.  I took two tins of pastel blue spray paint to it and covered it, before applying a candy coloured backing plastic to the top.IMG_20180804_164210

I gave my boyfriend my old TV to use as his new monitor for his PC which cleared up some space on the top of my bookshelf and made the room less heavy feeling (IMO).  I put two happy plants and a blueberry crush scented candle on the bookshelf.IMG_20180804_164238

The rest of the additions included pastel pink voiles and an LED strip which I affixed to the underside of my computer desk and set it to rainbow mode to match my keyboard.  Top this all off with a lavender air freshener plug in and my entire room suddenly radiates calm.  I love being in it.  My cat also loves it because he’s spent the last two nights stroking my voiles.  He is absolutely enamoured with my curtains.  Bless him, he doesn’t get out much.

IMG_20180804_164223

When it comes to beauty scoring, I’m a solid 6

I came across an article today about a site which analyses a photo of you and tells you how pretty you are out of one hundred. The site has recently come under fire because not only does it score you out of one hundred, but it also lists every single imperfection you have, so you can see exactly why it thinks you’re fugly (or not, if you’re lucky enough to be that person). Apparently it’s bad for peoples’ self esteem and self confidence.

Naturally I was intrigued and having had self image issues for as long as I’ve lived, I was pretty hardened to anything it could throw at me. I’ve been likened to Spock (cos of my right elf ear), Harry Potter (from when I had short hair and glasses), my dad once said I looked like E.T in skinny fit jeans (I can always rely on you to tell it how it is Dad) and my boyfriend describes me as “over the hill”. So it’s all good. Hit me with everything you’ve got PrettyScale.com.

So here’s my results. Woohoo, 60%, so not a total write off. It also specifically says I’m “good looking” – but I’m unsure if it actually means “goodlooking” or if they’re using “good” synonymously with “okay”. Like I’m “okay” looking, nothing to write home to your mother about when you meet me. The postcard home would say something along the lines of:

Mum,

Travelling the world is really great, I’m having such a whale of a time. Met this sweet girl called Kate, she’s not much to look at but she’s got a heart of gold and good sized birthing hips.

Hope to see you and Dad soon,

Love From Your Son

I can deal with that, it’s all good. But what kind of made me feel a bit taken aback and slightly hurt (by a goddamn computer algorithm, not even a human being) was the list of imperfections that came with my score. They couldn’t just give people a score and be done with it, leaving people to wonder what they lost points on, could they?

So let’s tackle my imperfections:

  • Face too long – I mean, I’ve never exactly been called “horsey” but I guess now they mention it, my face is kind of long… I’d never noticed that before;
  • Forehead too big – again, this is something I’ve never thought because I’ve mostly always had a fringe/bangs so my forehead was always covered. I even uploaded a different picture and did it again because I thought maybe the angle knocked it off, but no. Apparently my forehead is too big. Like you could park a car on it;
  • Big inter-ocular distance I had to Google this because it’s a big word, although I had an idea that it was something to do with my eyes. Basically, my eyes are too far apart. Which is weird because I actually always thought that they were too close;
  • Wide Nose – yeah, I have to hand it to ya PrettyScale, my nose is the one part of me that I can’t stand. It’s faaaar too big. But great for holding spoons;
  • Bad Face Symmetry – so wonky face syndrome. This isn’t something I had noticed before, but then again, when you look at someone else’s face in a mirror it always looks wonky. So this one kinda hurt my feelings a bit.

On the plus side, I have a “normal mouth size” and “normal chin size”. They evidently don’t do compliments because it doesn’t say anywhere anything like “your little chin is adorable”.

60% is kind of neither here nor there, nothing to shout about but also nothing to cry solidly into my pillow at night about.

My boyfriend will be happy to know this score because he always said I was a “solid 6/10”.

Update:

I’ve decided this site is bullshit. I uploaded a different photo and got this result:

Here are the two photos I uploaded.

How social media and online friendship can aid mental health and positivity

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the rough times that lots of people around me are having, myself included. This month seems to have been a particularly crappy month for everyone in general. It’s easy to forget that most people wear their “mask of happy” (please don’t buy yours from the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda – he’s a bit of a con merchant) on a regular basis, purely to hide the perfectly normal and understandable emotions that we all have to deal with as part of everyday life. These feelings, until very recently have been a bit of a societal taboo and are often not widely acceptable topics of discussion. They should be. We all have shit days. We all feel down from time to time. Even people who already own a Nintendo Switch and Breath of the Wild (I promise I’m not jealous).

Mental health has started to become more acceptable in modern day life, as social media makes it easier for us to Tweet, “I need a hug, having a rubbish day”. Thankfully, because social media makes it so easy for us to reach out, it also means that the people watching on the other end of their screens can keep our chins up and make us feel better. I have lots of online friends who rather frequently find themselves sending me virtual hugs because I’m down. I do the same for them.

I find I’m genuinely surprised at the amount of people who come across as happy-go-lucky and upbeat, only to discover that it’s a facade because they’re having lots of life issues and are trying their best to maintain an appearance of Teflon – that everything bounces off them. It kind of makes me sad because those people are my friends and they’re so lovely and I hate that the world can make them sad and I can’t physically be there to give them a hug or take them for ice cream and make them feel better. But from a personal perspective, I do find that social media helps when I’m down.

This month has been a particularly difficult one for me. My boyfriend’s dad is in ill health, my immediate family are going through some tough times and we had my beloved cat at the emergency vets last weekend, to the tune of £400 in vet’s fees. He was in such distress that we couldn’t sleep for days.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting by on roughly three hours sleep a night, hardly eating because my appetite is close to non-existent and to top it all off we are now totally skint until payday. To say I am almost defeated is a bit of an understatement. It’s times like this that I feel as though it is never going to get better and I will be on rock bottom forever.

The reality is that it is normal for me to get the entire year’s worth of bad luck all at the same time and then be spiffy for the rest of the year. Whilst this sounds ideal, it’s pretty rough when the bad times arrive.

I once read a series of books by Phillipa Gregory based on the Plantagenets. In the series, one of the characters is alleged to be a sorceress and talks about the “Wheel of Fortune”. She claims that everyone rides the Wheel of Fortune and eventually we all get to the bottom and have a run of bad luck, but eventually, at some point, we will ride it back around to the top. I live by this because it is entirely accurate in my life. We seem to be riding the wheel at the bottom pretty hard this month. It keeps me going to think that it’s not forever and will all go back to normal soon, but I’m still battling through each day and so I appreciate the messages I get from my friends, or the video calls I get where my friends are telling me jokes or singing at me, or the stupid games of golf that have me howling laughing so quickly.

You’ve probably been in the same position, where hope seems lost. Always remember that you should never judge a person’s story when you’ve only read one chapter and that despite the fact that people might be wearing their mask of happy, doesn’t mean that you can’t still be there for them and make them feel as though they can show their real emotions in front of you and you won’t run away, you’ll be supportive and try and cheer them up and pick them up as much as you can.

Let’s start spreading that love and making sure all our friends, online, in real life or otherwise, know that we have their backs and they can lean on us. Mental health matters as much as physical health and can be the cause of a lot of physical ailments so let’s get spreading that love!

Amazingly Gross (and totally real) Ice Cream Flavours from Around the World

So whilst trawling through Twitter in my free time I came across this Tweet. And yes, it was “gag-inducing”:

I’m all for trying new things but this just flat out looks vile. And I kid you not, it’s real, no joke. It actually inspired me (after I’d stopped feeling sick) to peruse the net and see if weird ice cream flavours are actually a thing. Turns out – they are.

I compiled a few of my favourites and most disgusting flavoured ice creams below. I actually rather like ninety percent of all the foods listed, just not in ice cream format. Because that’s gross. Here we go.

#10. Cheetos

I haven’t had many dealing with Cheetos since they’re about as rare as rocking horse shit in the UK but I have tasted them before and I quite liked them. They aren’t Brannigans Ham and Mustard crisps, but they’re nice. What I don’t want however is Cheetos in ice cream format. Yuk. The brave people at Insider gave it a go though. I think it looks suspiciously just like Mr Whippy ice cream with Cheetos powder sprinkled on top.

#9. Vegetable Ice Cream Salad

Image result for vegetable ice cream salad

I’m really not a salad person. You can probably guess that. I prefer pizzas. Again, what I really don’t need in my life when I’m sticking at being unhealthy is an unhealthy form of salad. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it? The people at Foodmento.com don’t think so. You can grab the recipe for making their vegetable ice cream salad on their website and try it for yourself.

#8. Hawaiian Pizza

Introducing the Hawaiian Pizza Ice Cream Sandwich, Complete With Hunks of Real Spam

I don’t believe pineapple has any place on a pizza. I know lots of people would disagree with me on this one. It’s a Marmite scenario, I know this. Ham is perfectly acceptable but a curse on the house of whomever thought to add pineapple to the equation. And then a double curse to the person who took it one step too far and decided that pineapple on a pizza wasn’t enough – pineapple flavoured ice cream with chunks of spam in it, in the form of an ice cream sandwich was the way forward. You sick, sick individual.

#7. Curry and Mint

Both great flavours which I enjoy on a regular basis. Mint ice cream is also the bomb. However, I like my curries to be hot not iced. And also without mint preferably.

#6. Bacon

I’ve tried bacon flavoured chocolate in the past. It’s fucking gross. I won’t venture into the world of bacon ice cream, lest I vomit profusely.

#5. Corn on the Cob

Again, soooooo lovely to have either in summer or winter (BBQ food or nice winter warmer) – so juicy and hearty. I love corn on the cob. Corn on the cob ice cream? I mean, corn on the cob is meant to be eaten hot. Why on earth would anyone be eating this?

#4. Lobster

I’ve actually never had lobster, although I’m told it’s divine. I’m not a great lover of seafood, which is strange since I live on the beach. I genuinely feel like lobster flavoured ice cream however is a definite way to barfville. Seafood should not be an ice cream flavour for the love of God.

#3. Mayo

From the picture posted right at the start I think it’s clear why this is just gross. I love mayo and I have it with nearly everything. Just not usually my desserts.

#2. Goats’ Cheese

Goats’ cheese is one of my all time favourite cheeses. I love it so much that if someone said to me, “you have to choose one or the other – wine or goats’ cheese”, I’d be as sober as a judge from that day forward. If they asked me the same question but with goats’ cheese ice cream and wine, I’d be getting plastered every single day of my life (like usual then), wallowing in the depths of despair that if I wanted my beloved goats’ cheese I had to have it in ice cream format.

#1. Raw Horse Flesh

Image result for raw horse flesh ice creamAnyone who knows me will know that I am a hardcore animal lover. I can’t see any creature in distress and frequently save the bees at work that trapped indoors. So the idea of raw horse flesh in any shape or form makes me feel nauseous. The fact that it’s supposed to be a fun flavour makes me feel even worse. I wish this were a joke but sadly, it isn’t. This is one of several weird and wacky ice cream flavours you can get at an indoor amusement park in Tokyo.

Thunder Storms and Hearing Electricity

There’s a storm right now.  Not the exciting storm that the news played up we’d have, with crashes of thunder and lightning, just a low rumble and a couple of flashes.  But it’s still a welcome sound after how hot it’s been lately.  Clears the air doesn’t it?

I had a feeling there was going to be a storm.  My ears started ringing.  They always do right before a storm.  You know, kind of like a dog whistle?  My boyfriend thought I was going crazy when I used to say to him, “you’ve left the TV on standby, I can hear it”.  He would say, “you can’t possibly hear it, there’s no sound coming out of it”.  But I could, I swore down every time.

I just said to my work colleague, “I think there’s going to be a storm, my ears are ringing” and she looked at me like I was nuts.  I tried to explain that I could hear electricity – it’s the only way I can describe it, because of course I’m not actually hearing the electricity, but I Googled it to prove my point and some people can hear the frequency waves of the electricity – that’s what the high pitched dog whistle sound in my ears in.  Apparently I have a very high frequency shut off.  Yippee for me.  Since that means that you only have to leave a socket on in my house and it drives me insane to the point I can’t sleep.  It’s like constant tinnitus.

I apparently have the world’s shittest superpower.

 

The Sims 4 is Scarily Accurate

I’ve been playing The Sims since its release in 2000. I’ve been addicted. I’ve spent hours trawling the net for furniture mods, celebrity Sims, skins, outfits, hairstyles, etc. I’ve raised generations of families of Kate-Sims, built thousands of houses and demolished them (regularly) and killed my Sims in every way possible when I got bored of them.

The Sims has progressed massively since it’s first instalment. I remember very robotic movement, no facial expressions and basically robots moving around my carefully created house. I now find that The Sims 4 is scarily accurate if you make Sims of real-life people.

There are a variety of choices with regards to different aspects of your Sims’ personality. Whilst varied, it’s not excessive. I generally make Sims of myself and people I know.

Sims1For my own Sim, I always choose traits of bookworm, geek and tidy. My Sim gets a hell of a kick from cleaning the house and gets massively annoyed when things are untidy or dirty. Anyone who knows me will realise that this is also true about myself. My boyfriend has said on numerous occasions that he can see my “fun bar” going up whenever I’m scrubbing the kitchen. My Sim also gets really sad and gets withdrawal when she doesn’t play video games for a while. Again, also true.

Now this is where it gets odd. We all know that our phones listen to our conversation so they can tailor news feeds and adverts to us. But is it possible that our computer games are also tuning in on our conversations?

My boyfriend likes to lounge around and do as little as possible, spending a good deal of time in his PJs, eating bowls of sugar-loaded cereals, in front of his PlayStation. His PJs are so well worn that they’ve seen better days and are usually covered in food stains. He also hates showering so I like to think when I look at him in real life, sat there in his food stained PJs, eating his cereal with his mouth open whilst watching the TV screen, that I can actually see green mist emanating from him in a miasma of stink. When it comes to his Sim, I can’t for love nor money train him to get dressed himself. He leaves the bed unmade and the house a mess, leaving my Sim entirely stressed out. Every aspect of his Sim is true to life.

Sims2I thought this was about as close to life as the game got, but then I made Sims of my two best friends. One of them is very serious and gets angry very quickly, loves to nap, is obsessed with noodles and gets bored extremely quickly, whilst the other is so laid back he is horizontal and spends every second he’s not at work, on his PC. I have a lot of disagreements with the first and we do a good deal of fighting. So imagine my surprise when I move their Sims into my neighbourhood and send my Sim round to introduce herself and my laid back friend comes to his door with a massive smile, cheerfully introduces himself to her, shakes her hand and then invites her in, before quickly disappearing back upstairs to plonk himself down on his PC and get back to his games. I suspect he was playing Dawn of the Dragons.

In a strange house with no one to talk to, I get my Sim to say hello to Serious Friend. She begins conversation and he immediately yawns and outright walks away from her, leaving her mid-conversation and feeling a little more than awkward. He ventures to the kitchen and prepares himself some quick food, which looks suspiciously like noodles, which he eats in silence before disappearing upstairs to lie on the bed for a nap.

Irked at being so rudely treated, my Sim follows Serious Friend upstairs, wakes him up from his nap and begins to Discuss her Interests. He flat out interrupts her by saying “blah blah blah”, pulls a disgusted face, dramatically fake yawns and goes to walk away again. By this time, I, as the player am furious at him and hurt for my Sim’s feelings and ask her to walk up to him again and Insult him. She does. She jabs and pokes at his chest for good measure. He doesn’t take it well. He doesn’t even answer, he just dives on her in a cloud of smoke and exclamation/question marks. Happy Friend is blissfully unaware of the WWE sized fight going on at his feet, still sat at his PC, still happily playing his game.Sims3

When the fight is over, both my Sim and Serious Friend can’t even bear to be in the same room and she storms home. He goes back to bed for another nap.

Now I’m fairly sure I didn’t choose “likes noodles, enjoys naps, hates Kate-Sim” as traits for Serious Friend. That is mostly because those traits don’t exist.

It was scarily accurate and I’m confused.