My brain is amazing

Right. It’s only March and this postaweek thing is getting decidedly difficult. Must. Carry. On. Even though I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not as though someone’s going to hand me a fat cheque on December 31st for doing so. Is it, WordPress? Is it?

I thought I’d post a very quick muse on my brain. I’ve never paid a huge amount of attention to it and I think the feeling’s probably mutual. It’s rarely there when I need it and flat-out refuses to remember anything more than 24 hours old.

However, a few weeks ago I mentioned on this very blog that I have started learning a number of songs on the piano for a performance with my dad’s band in September.

When you first start learning a song it’s inevitably hard work. You stumble over chords, forget which key you’re in and at times feel like flinging the increasingly meaningless collection of ebony and ivory keys out of the window.

Then, you stand up and walk away from the piano. For an hour. A day, even. During that period, something magical happens, because by the time you sit down again, the music flows out of your fingers like you’ve been playing it for years. It’s that much of a step up from your previous ham-fisted attempts that you would be forgiven for being a little shocked by it. I am, constantly.

I’ve concluded that during that period of rest, my brain is playing catch up. Silently, like a task running in the background on your PC, it computes the myriad of information you fed it earlier, and, without any cursing, shouting or head bashing to distract it, practices. Without a piano. How cool is that?

There’s probably a more scientific explanation for this process and if you know it, please let me know. I just think it’s fucking amazing, my brain.

Now Showing: Sky News Earthquake Coverage

Eamonn Holmes
Eamonn Holmes: I'm not a fan. As you can probably tell.

Slow fades. Booming rumbles and crashes containing enough sub-30hz material to rattle your teeth out. Stark, block graphics and text creating a sense of grandeur. There was even a cliff-hanger…

You would be excused for assuming I was watching the trailer for a new J. J. Abrams epic this morning. But, no, it was an advert for Sky News’ coverage of the earthquake disaster in Japan.

And not just ‘normal’ coverage. Oh, no. ‘Continuous coverage’, spat out the embossed and heavy font covering a black void which had moments before crossfaded footage of floating cars, shipping vessels being crushed like toys and destroyed villages. All that was missing was a few clips of Jason Statham chewing bullets whilst round-house kicking people in the face.

There is something deeply unsettling about Sky News and their insistence on making blockbusters out of real-life disasters. They seem eager – desperate, almost – for something horrific to happen just so they can create a new logo and theme tune to market it.

The fat, eternally nonchalant figure of Eamonn Holmes sat at his desk this morning, leaning casually on one elbow. They’d called in the thirty-sixth ‘expert’ in as many minutes and Eamonn was on a mission to make a nuclear mountain out of a safe zone molehill.

“So, what can you tell me now? What is the current threat to the people of Japan?” he asked the clearly agitated expert who could surely offer little more than some Oxford-educated nuclear predictions. He was in Coventry. That’s quite a long way from Fukushima. I forget his exact answer, but, roughly translated, it was something like, “I can’t answer that question, you idiot. I’m not in Japan.”

What’s more, moments earlier, the aircraft-carrier-sized former GMTV presenter had reluctantly and barely audibly informed us that the radiation levels were, in fact, falling. Great news, no?

No. Good news is most definitely bad news for Mr Murdoch and co. They thrive on drama and hearsay. News isn’t news at Sky unless it is stretched out to the nth degree of speculation.

It’s telling, however, that they appear to have abandoned one of their most irritating disaster coverage rituals: sending out roving reporters to every corner of the disaster zone. They’re nowhere to be seen this time around. As far as I’m aware, you can still enter Japan, so why haven’t they gone?

Ground-breaking news? Ground-breaking cowardice, more like.

My best wishes to all affected by the disaster.

Erm… I like the cover, Steve

iPad 2
iPad 2: A rare victory for accessories over the product for which they're intended

I wasn’t looking forward to the iPad 2 announcement this week. You see, I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that I must refrain from buying ‘buttons and technology’ this year due to the impending wedding bill that is, admittedly, far more important.

However, I love my iPad and I didn’t want to see it shuffle discreetly into the corner of the room, head bowed and gently weeping as it discovered it was suddenly an ‘old’ model. Wednesday’s iPad 2 announcement seemed certain to make that an inevitable consequence.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

iPad 2 is thinner. This means it looks 33% better than the old model. When you look at it side on.

It’s faster. The ‘old’ iPad is no slouch and as mine is used almost primarily for web surfing, reading the paper and task management, I’m not too fussed. I’m even less fussed about graphics that are nine times faster. iOS is, after all, a great gaming platform which is rendered as good as useless by the control surface (download any game which features an onscreen joystick and tell me otherwise).

It has cameras. I can’t think of a more awkward and dickhead-inducing way of taking photos than via an iPad. Facetime? I can do that on my iPhone and Macbook. Photobooth is hilarious but only for about fifteen minutes. Plus, I have that on my Macbook, too.

It comes in white. Granted. This is very cool (and not a lie, like the iPhone 4’s mysterious AWOL white brother).

Apple claim the new unit is unreservedly deserving of the number ‘2’ moniker. I’m not so sure. It is, quite clearly, a 3Gs-type upgrade. The real next generation iPad will be with us in 2011. And I’m happy to wait.

There was one thing, though. Something (as is always the case with Apple) highly unexpected; the case. Or cover, to be more precise in this instance.

In one, clicky, flappy, magnetised motion, they’ve done it again. The cover, which effortlessly attaches itself to the side of the iPad and covers just the screen, is almost enough to make you want to upgrade to what is essentially the same product you already own. It looks brilliant. The sort of thing you could just put on and take off again and again, all day.

Alas… I’m sticking to my guns and the advice of my better half. I’m off to reassure my iPad that it has nothing to worry about.

Until 2012.