Jules Bianchi (1989 – 2015)

Jules Bianchi - 1989-2015

Following shock news reports, the world lost a true icon in the world of racing one month ago. Jules Bianchi sadly passed away on the 17th July 2015, coming just 9 months after a racing accident which had left him with severe head injuries. Jules’ death comes just 21 years after the former Formula 1 racer, Ayrton Senna, lost his life in the 1994 San Morino Grand Prix, following an accident whilst on the track.

This came as a shock to the racing world, and it had also shocked me, because I hadn’t realised just how bad his head injuries were until they announced his death.

This tribute article will take a look back on Jules Bianchi’s life as it unfolded, and will also include the highlights of his career up until his death.

Jules Bianchi (3rd August 1989 – 17th July 2015)

Jules Bianchi was a French motor-racing driver who had raced for the Marussia F1 in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Jules Bianchi had previously raced in the Formula Renault 3.5, the GP2 Series and Formula Three, and was also a Ferrari Driver Academy member. He had entered Formula 1 as a practice driver in 2012 for Sahara Force India, and in 2013, Bianchi had made his debut in driving for Marussia, finishing 15th in his opening race in Australia, and ended the season in 19th position without scoring any points.

His best result that year was when he came 13th at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and in October 2013, the team had confirmed that he would drive for the team the following season. In the 2014 season, Jules Bianchi had scored both his and the Marussia’s first points in Formula One at the Monaco Grand Prix.

On the 5th October 2014, during the Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi had lost control of his Marussia in damp and dismal conditions, and had collided with a recovery vehicle, suffering from a diffuse axonal injury as a result of the accident. He had immediately underwent emergency surgery and was placed into an induced coma, and had remained comatose until his death on the 17th July 2015. Jules Bianchi is the first Formula 1 Driver since 1994 to be killed as a result of an accident during a race event since Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Jules’ Personal Life

Jules Bianchi was born in Nice, in France, to Philippe and Christine Bianchi. He had two siblings, his brother, Tom, and his sister Melanie, and had been in a long-term relationship with his French girlfriend, Camille Marchetti. In later times, media reports had also referred to a German girlfriend, Gina, who had moved to Nice.

Jules Bianchi was the grandson of Mauro Bianchi, who had competed in GT Racing during the 1960s and also three non-championship Formula One Grand Prix in 1961. He was also the grandnephew of Lucien, who had competed in 19 Formula One Grand Prix’s between 1959 and 1968, and won the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, before dying during Le Mans testing the following year. Jules Bianchi’s favourite racing driver was Michael Schumacher.

Jules’ Early Career

Jules Bianchi’s exposure to motorsport had started at around 3 years of age through karting, and he was facilitated by the fact that his father had owned a kart track. Since the age of 17, Bianchi was professionally managed by Nicolas Todt.

Formula Renault 2.0

In 2007, Bianchi had left kart racing and had raced in the French Formula Renault 2.0 for SG Formula, where he had finished as the champion with five wins. He had also competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup where he had one pole position and one of the fastest laps in three races.

Formula 3 Euro

In late 2007, Jules Bianchi had signed with the ART Grand Prix to compete in the Formula 3 Euro Series, and in 2008, he had won the Masters of Formula 3 at Zolder, and had also finished third in the 2008 Formula 3 Euro Series season.

Jules Bianchi had continued in the F3 Euroseries in 2009, and had also leaded ART’s line-up along with the rookie team-mates, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrien Tambay. With eight wins, Bianchi had sealed the title with a round to spare, at Dijon-Prenois. He had then added a ninth win to the final round at Hockenheim. He had also driven in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Monaco, after the SG Formula had acquired the cars that were formerly run by Kurt Mollekens.

GP2

Jules Bianchi had driven for ART in the subsequent GP2 Asia season and the 2010 GP2 season, and he had competed in three of the four rounds of the GP2 Asia championship. In the main series, Bianchi had taken two pole positions and a number of points positions before he was injured in a first lap crash at the Hungaroring.

In the feature race, Jules Bianchi had spun into the path of the field, exiting the first corner, and was struck head-on by Ho-Pin Tung, sustaining a fractured second lumbar vertebra in the process. Bianchi was fourth in the drivers’ championship at the time of his injury. Despite the initial pessimistic injury assessments of the severity of his injury, Bianchi had recovered to take part in the next round of the championship.

Jules Bianchi had remained with ART for 2011, and was later partnered by the 2010 GP3 Series Champion, Esteban Gutiérrez. There, he would star in the first two rounds of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series, holding off Romain Grosjean for victory in the feature race and gaining fourth in the sprint race, but was later penalised. He had finished as the runner-up to Grosjean in the drivers’ championship. In the main series alone, Jules Bianchi had finished third in the championship, behind Grosjean and Luca Filippi.

Formula Renault 3.5

Jules Bianchi had opted to switch to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for 2012, following his one-off appearance in the category in 2009, and he signed for the Tech 1 Racing team, and was partnered with Kevin Korjus, and later on with Daniel Abt.

Jules Bianchi’s Formula One Career

Ferrari & Sahara Force India (test roles)

In the August of 2009, Jules Bianchi was linked by the BBC and other various media outlets to the second Ferrari Formula One seat that was occupied by Luca Badoer during Felipe Massa’s absence. Jules Bianchi had tested for Ferrari at the young drivers test at Circuito de Jerez for two of the three days over the course of the 1st & 2nd December 2009.

The other drivers that were tested on the 3rd December had included Daniel Zampieri, Marco Zipoli & Pablo Sánchez López as the top three finishers in the 2009 Italian Formula Three Championship. Bianchi’s performance in this test had led to him becoming the first recruit of the Ferrari Driver Academy and signing up to a long-term deal to remain at the team’s disposal.

On the 11th November 2010, Jules Bianchi was confirmed by Ferrari as the team’s test and reserve driver for the 2011 season, which would replace Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené, as well as confirming that he would test for the team during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi over the 16th & 17th November. Bianchi had carried on his GP2 racing, as Formula 1 allows the test and reserve drivers to race in parallel in other competitions. On the 13th September 2011, Jules Bianchi had tested for Ferrari at Fiorano, as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, with the fellow academy member and Sauber F1 driver, Sergio Pérez.

Jules Bianchi had completed 70 laps and had also recorded the quickest lap time of 1:00.213. For the 2012 Season, Ferrari had loaned him to the Sahara Force India team, for whom he had driven in nine Friday free practice sessions over the course of the year as the outfit’s test and reserve driver.

Marussia F1 – 2013

On the 1st March 2013, Marussia had announced that Bianchi was to replace Luiz Razia as the race driver, after Razia’s contract was terminated, due to sponsorship issues. Jules Bianchi had qualified 19th for the Australian Grand Prix, also out-qualifying his team-mate, Max Chilton, by three-quarters of a second. Jules Bianchi had overtaken Pastor Maldonado and also Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap, and he had eventually finished 15th on his debut.

He was 19th on the grid again in Malaysia, 0.3 seconds away from Q2, but Bianchi had fallen behind the Caterhams at the start of the race, but moved up the order after the pit stops, eventually going on to finish 13th, ahead of his team-mate, and both the Caterhams. As of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Bianchi had beaten his team-mate in all of the qualifying sessions and also all races that both of them had finished. In the Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi and Charles Pic of Caterham were given the ten-place grid penalties for receiving three reprimands over the season, and at the race, his race had ended early after a collision with Giedo va der Garde.

Marussia F1 – 2014

In the October of 2013, Marussia had confirmed that Jules Bianchi would stay at the team for the following season, and after starting the season off with struggles in Australia, in which he was not classified, Jules Bianchi had overcome the odds to score his, and his team’s first World Championship points by finishing 9th at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Out of the nine races that Bianchi and Chilton had completed without retiring, during the 2014 season, he was the quicker driver in eight of them, establishing his status as the first driver. Chilton had retired twice, and Bianchi five times, with three of Bianchi’s retirements being due to mechanical failures.

Just days before his fatal accident, Jules Bianchi had declared himself “ready” to step into the Scuderia Ferrari race seat should the team need him amid the looming departure of Fernando Alonso.

The 2014 Suzuka Accident

The 2014 Japanese Grand Prix was held on the 5th October 2014, under intermittent heavy rainfall that was caused by the fast approaching Typhoon Phanfone and in fading daylight. On the 43rd lap of the race, Jules Bianchi had lost control of his car and had veered right towards the run-off area on the outside of the Dunlop Curve (turn seven) of the Suzuka Circuit. He had collided with the rear of a tractor crane tending to the removal of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber after Sutil had spun out of control and crashed in the same area a lap before.

The spectators’ video footage and photographs of the accident had revealed that the left side of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia car was extensively damaged and the roll bar was destroyed as it slid under the tractor crane. The impact as such showed that the tractor crane was partially jolted off the ground, causing Sutil’s Sauber, which was suspended in the air by the crane, to fall back to the ground. The race was then stopped altogether and Lewis Hamilton was declared the winner.

Jules Bianchi was reported to have been unconscious after failing to respond to either a team radio call or the marshals. He was treated at the crash site before being taken by ambulance to the circuit’s medical centre. Since there was no possibility of transport via helicopter, due to the precarious and dangerous weather conditions at that stage, Bianchi was further transported by ambulance for 32 minutes, under police escort. The nearest hospital destination available was the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, which was some 15 km (9.3 miles) away from the Suzuka circuit.

The initial reports by his father, Philippe, to the television channel, France 3, were that Jules Bianchi was in a critical condition with a head injury and was undergoing an operation to reduce the severe bruising to his head. The FIA had subsequently said that the CT scans had shown that Bianchi had suffered a “severe head injury” in the crash, and that he would be admitted to intensive care following the surgery.

Among his first hospital visitors immediately after the Grand Prix were Marussia’s CEO, Graeme Lowdon, and the team principal, John Booth (the latter staying by Jules Bianchi’s side even after the inaugural Russian Grand Prix), as well as Ferrari’s team principal, Marco Mattiacci, and the Formula 1 driver, Felipe Massa.

On the 6th October, Pastor Maldonado and the manager, and also the assistant manager that he shared with Bianchi – namely, Nicholas Todt and Alessandro Alunni Bravi, respectively, also visited the hospital. Bianchi’s parents had arrived later that day, and were joined three days later, by their other children, Mélanie and Tom, as well as Jules’ best friend, Lorenz Leclerc.

The family had released a statement the next day, expressing their appreciation for the outpouring of support from the public, and for the presence of the Professor, Gerard Saillant, the President of the FIA Medical Commission, and the Professor, Alessandro Frati, the neurosurgeon of the Sapienza University of Rome, who had travelled to Japan at the request of Scuderia Ferrari. They had also provided a medical update, which confirmed that the injury Jules Bianchi suffered from was a diffuse axonal injury, and that he was in a critical, but stable condition.

The initial media reports made in October 2014, which were said to be based on the information obtained from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) documents, claimed that the speed at the moment of the loss of control was recorded at 212 km/h (132 mph), and that the impact had generated 92 g0 (900 m/s2). This data was sourced from Jules Bianchi’s g-sensors in his earplugs, however, it was then understood that these earplugs had slipped out at that crucial moment.

The subsequent calculations in July 2015 had indicated a peak of 254 g0 (2,490 m/s2), and the data from the FIA’s World Accident Database (WADB) – which sources the information from racing accidents worldwide – also indicated that Bianchi’s impact had occurred 2.61 seconds after the loss of control, at a speed of 123 km/h (76 mph) and at an angle of 55 degrees. According to Andy Mellor, the Vice President of the FIA Safety Commission, this is the equivalent of dropping a “car 48 meters to the ground without a crumple zone”.

The Team & Driver Reactions

Following the Russian Grand Prix, Marussia’s CEO, Graeme Lowdon, had confirmed that the team would return to a two-car operation for the remainder of the season, however, the team had entered administration prior to the next race, the United States Grand Prix. The team’s financial backer, Andrei Cheglakov, had later revealed that Jules Bianchi’s crash was a key factor in the Russian’s decision to end his financial support of the team and quit Formula One.

After the 2015 Australian Grand Prix in March, John Booth, who is now the team’s principal of the newly established Manor Marussia F1 team, paid tribute to Jules Bianchi’s point performance at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, since the prize money that was won had enabled the team to stay in Formula One. In addition, coinciding with the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix, Manor Marussia had continued to show support for Jules Bianchi with the use of special red wristbands that had the inscription: “Monaco 2014 P8 JB17”.

The FIA’s Reaction & Investigation

Following Jules Bianchi’s accident, the FIA had began an investigation and had also considered the appropriate changes to the safety procedures, such as those at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where the location of a tractor crane serving the Senna S chicane was altered.

The FIA had also released its initial findings at a special conference, which was held during the inaugural Russian Grand Prix on the Saturday after the Japanese Grand Prix’s weekend. Among many other things, it was quickly revealed that Bianchi had slowed down at Suzuka’s Turn 7, but without disclosing by what margin or the speed of impact, and that the journey to the hospital by ambulance took only an extra 37 minutes relative to the helicopter, without any adverse effects on Bianchi’s condition.

Furthermore, the FIA had confirmed ongoing research into closed cockpits for the Formula One cars, with the possibility of fitting protective skirting to all recovery vehicles, as well as ways to slow down cars in the crash zones more effectively than double yellow flags. With respect to the latter, the FIA had moved to quickly consider the introduction of a virtual safety cars – or VSC system – which was then effectively tested during the season’s final three Grand Prix in the United States, Brazil & Abu Dhabi – based on the Le Mans racing “slow zone” arrangement that did not neutralise the race proceedings as much as the safety car periods. The following week, the FIA had reportedly emailed all of the teams to request that they retain any information that was related to Jules Bianchi’s Suzuka accident, for exclusive use by an accident panel, established by the FIA to investigate Jules Bianchi’s accident.

A week later, the FIA had announced a review panel that would investigate the cause of the accident, which was made up of former driver and team principals, and published its findings four weeks later. The report had found that there was no single cause of Bianchi’s accident. Instead, the contributing factors were found to have included the track’s conditions, the car speed and also the presence of a recovery vehicle on the circuit.

The report itself had also made several suggestions to improve safety when recovering the stricken vehicles – which were subsequently introduced for the 2015 season – before concluding that it would have not been possible to mitigate Jules Bianchi’s injuries through the changes to the cockpit design. The report had also revealed that the fail-safe for the car’s brake-by-wire system had failed, and despite this, Marussia was found to not be responsible for the accident.

For the 2015 season, while on safety grounds, the FIA had also implemented the measures to alter the start time of certain Grand Prix’s by requiring that it is not less than four hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of official night races. In July 2015, Peter Wright, who is the Chairman of the FIA Safety Commission, was quoted as saying that a closed cockpit would have not averted Bianchi’s head injuries, while the Vice President, Andy Mellow, had also confirmed that attaching impact protection to the recovery vehicles was not the feasible solution.

Jules Bianchi’s Medical Treatment & Updates

The first family update which followed Jules Bianchi’s emergency surgery was made by his father in the week beginning the 13th October 2014. Jules Bianchi was reported to be in a “desperate” condition, with the doctors describing his survival as a miracle. Even so, his father had openly stated that he had drawn hope from Michael Schumacher waking from his coma. Marussia had also issued regular updates on Jules Bianchi’s condition, while rejecting the initial speculation about their role in the accident.

While he was hospitalised in Yokkaichi, Jules Bianchi had remained in a critical, but stable condition, and had also required a medical ventilator. He was taken out of his artificial coma in November 2014 and had began to breathe unaided, making his relocation to France for admission at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (fr) (CHU), possible. There, Jules Bianchi had remained unconscious and in a critical condition, but more accessible to his family for their daily vigil. On the 13th July 2015, Jules Bianchi’s father had publicly conceded as becoming “less optimistic” as a consequence of no significant progress, and the lapse of time since the accident.

Death

Jules Bianchi sadly passed away on the 17th July 2015, aged just 25, from his injuries which were sustained at the time of his accident in Suzuka 9 months prior. His death had made him the first Formula 1 driver to be killed by injuries sustained during a Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna in 1994.

In their official statement, Jules Bianchi’s family said:

“It is with deep sadness that the parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, his brother Tom and sister Mélanie, wish to make it known that Jules passed away last night at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Nice. Jules fought to the end, as he has always done, but yesterday his battle ended. We feel an immense and indescribable pain.” – Jules Bianchi’s Family

The funeral service was held at the Nice Cathedral on the 21st July 2015. Jules Bianchi lies at rest in his native city.

Tributes

The widespread tributes had followed from fellow past and present drivers, such as Bernie Ecclestone, the French President, François Hollande, and other sports personalities. The Manor Marussia team had also published a statement on their Facebook page, and they described Jules Bianchi as, among other things, “a magnificent human being” and a “shining talent”.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association had announced that it had felt a responsibility “to never relent in improving safety”. The FIA President, Jean Todt had also announced that race number 17 would be retired from the list of those available for Formula 1 Drivers, as a mark of respect.

While he paid his respects, Luca di Montezemolo had also stated that thanks to the GP2 experience and the fine performance with Marussia and in test sessions, Jules Bianchi was the racing driver that Scuderia Ferrari had chosen for the future, even while he was described as being a would-be replacement for Kimi Räikkönen.

Chilton had dedicated his maiden Indy Lights pole position and race win, which he had scored on the same weekend as Bianchi’s death, to his former Marussia team-mate.

A one-minute silence was held on the grid before the start of the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix in Jules Bianchi’s honour, and also in the presence of his family surrounded by the current drivers. The commemorative stickers on the helmets and the cars were the other leading tributes at that race. The race winner, Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, had dedicated his maiden Hungarian win to Jules Bianchi and his family, acknowledging that the Frenchman would have been a part of the team in the future. Daniil Kvyat had also dedicated his maiden podium finish as did the third-place runner-up, Daniel Ricciardo.

This tribute article comes to an end, I will miss Jules Bianchi, not just for how much of an impact he had on the racing world, but also the impact he had on me and everyone else as well. You will be missed dearly Jules, but you will never be forgotten for the wonderful legacy you’ve left behind. We miss you, but you are always remembered in our hearts forever.

Alex Smithson

Windows 10 | Your definitive Windows experience. Redefined.

Windows 10 - Your definitive Windows experience. Redefined - Final

Following the longed-for release of Windows 10, which hit all laptops and PCs running Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 with Bing, I am absolutely delighted to write this article as a way of thanking Microsoft for really nailing the best of both operating systems in one OS.

If you’re on Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 with Bing, get ready to relive the nostalgia of the old Windows, as Windows 10 officially brings back the much-loved Start Menu, which has seen a massive upgrade in design. The Windows 10 Start Menu does away with the controversial Windows 8 Start Menu, as many users felt uncomfortable with the Windows 8 Start Menu layout, given that a lot of the main features were moved around.

I personally thought the Windows 8 layout was alright, I didn’t have a problem with it, apart from a few small bugs, but now that Windows 10 is finally here, I will miss the Windows 8 Start Menu layout, but it’s had a good ride. Now that Windows 10 is finally here, I can, for the first time in a long time, relive the nostalgic days of Windows 95, 98, XP, Vista & 7 all in one operating system alone.

Microsoft have taken the best bits of Windows 7 & Windows 8 and put both of them together to create Windows 10, and with the way they’ve done it, they have actually nailed it 100% spot on. I absolutely love Windows 10, as the voice assistant, Cortana, is now a part of the operating system, and for the first time, Microsoft has now given every user the ability to add new desktops while on the same user account, meaning that you can open a new desktop, and use any other software applications that are not on the original desktop.

Microsoft’s successor to Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, is also a part of the release of Windows 10, and I can say that it is perfect, in fact, it’s much better now than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I have noticed now when I use Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome that they now seem to slow down a bit more than they did before. Microsoft Edge really has put the icing on top of the cake for Windows 10.

Microsoft Edge debuts with a brand new, and refreshed look, and is also similar to the design aspects of both Mozilla Firefox & Google Chrome, but is efficient for everyday use.

Statistics showed that after Windows 10 was released on the 29th July 2015, 14+ million users have since downloaded and installed Windows 10, due to unprecedented demand. This is an extremely positive outlook for Microsoft, as Windows 10 has been welcomed to mostly positive reviews, despite critics, as they had made sure to iron out all the bugs in Windows 10 before its general release.

Since I upgraded to Windows 10, I’ve not only used Microsoft Edge frequently, but I have found that Microsoft Edge is now a lot faster than Mozilla Firefox & Google Chrome.

As well as this, I have also found that opening software programs are a lot faster now, and not only that, but it’s much quicker now to get to certain parts of the operating system that I couldn’t get to as quick as I did before.

In light of the update, Windows 10 was also released for selected phones that are compatible with the update, and this is useful for Microsoft because they want to make sure that they can get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10, given that Continuity is now an official feature.

Windows 10, since it’s release on the 29th July, has been welcomed to massive positivity across the world, as Microsoft have been tweeting the Twitter hashtags: “#UpgradeYourWorld” and “#DoGreatThings”, which are both encouraging many users around the world to upgrade to the best Windows update yet.

Upon start-up of Windows 10 for the first time ever, you will notice instantly just how much Windows has changed since it was first released on the 20th November 1985. On start-up, the login screen has been given a much needed overhaul, as the user account or user accounts that are on your computer are now located at the bottom left of your computer screen, and to make things a lot quicker to access, the power button is in the bottom right corner, along with other options that you can use on your computer. Also on start-up, your display picture, name and email address will appear straight in the middle of your computer or laptop screen, with the password bar underneath for you to sign in.

It has been confirmed by Microsoft Corporation that Windows 10 is the last major version of Windows, with all of the subsequently important updates being issued in regular installments.

For a limited time, Windows 10 is completely free to download and install as of the 29th July 2015, and the limited time offer comes to an end on the 29th July 2016. If you haven’t yet downloaded and installed Windows 10 on your laptop or PC running Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 with Bing, then I strongly recommend that you go ahead and install the update whilst you can, because after the 29th July 2016, if you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10, then you will be expected to pay for the Windows 10 Operating System. So please, if you haven’t already, Upgrade Your World of Windows to Windows 10 for your definitive, yet redefined experience.

My final thoughts? This update is fast, reliable and has improved my own way of using Windows altogether, and I have had absolutely no problems with it at all since I downloaded and installed it on my laptop. Microsoft Edge is also fast and reliable, and since I made the jump to Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge, I haven’t looked back since.

If your computer runs Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 with Bing, please make sure to download and install it now, and if you have the latest version of the Windows Phone, please make sure to download Windows 10 on that as well, as Windows 10 Mobile is now available for Windows Phone.

Speed: 10/10

Microsoft Edge: 10/10

Windows 10: 10/10

Overall Performance: 10/10

Reliability: 10/10

Alex Smithson

© Microsoft Corporation 2015

© The Official Windows 10 Wallpaper, the Windows 10 Logo, the Microsoft Logo and the tagline used in the Featured Image are courtesy of Microsoft Corporation. No Copyright Infringement Intended.

Mother Nature | Noticeable Changes: Readability Made Easy.

Noticeable Changes Made Easy - Mother Nature

Some noticeable changes have been made to improve the readability of articles on this website. You might have noticed quite recently that I’ve changed the font choices to Oswald & PT Sans, as the previous fonts used were suitable for use, but were starting to look dated, but, to give Mother Nature a fresh new face and lease of life, I have changed the heading font to Oswald, while the Base font has been changed to PT Sans, to accommodate for better viewing.

In contrast, I’ve made sure to choose these fonts as I know that Mother Nature could do with a bit of a slight refresh, so that all of you have much more of a better chance to read the articles I publish. I’ve taken the sizing of the fonts into consideration for those of you who may find it hard to read the articles I publish, as I understand entirely some of you may be suffering from impaired vision, or from a different type of eye problem that may be affecting your way of using this website.

You can now change the original fonts that come with WordPress’ themes to a font of your choice, and this is all thanks to WordPress, as they have, in the last few days, given all WordPress bloggers like myself the chance to customise and change the fonts to better suit the website or blog that that person may have. This is a fantastic add-on because it means you won’t have to buy a custom design upgrade just to get near enough the same thing, which is an extremely positive move from WordPress. If you want to find out more about the use of free typefaces for your blog or website, please click here to be sent to WordPress’ Hot Off the Press Blog for further information on this latest feature.

I feel absolutely thrilled that WordPress are doing this, as this will give bloggers, writers and photographers, like myself, the chance to make something go from just one idea to endless ideas.

There are endless possibilities to creating something of your own, it’s just about how you apply yourself to it at the end of the day. – Alex Smithson

As the changes are already in place, the fonts are much easier to notice now, paving the way for much better readability for viewing in the future.

Please let me know what you think of the noticeable changes in the comments below, and if you enjoyed reading this article, please make sure to like and share this article with everyone you know.

Alex Smithson

Mother Nature Blossoms Her True Colours for a Hot Summer!!!

Mother Nature Blossoms Her True Colours for a Hot Summer!!!

As the hot weather is officially back, it’s safe to say that Mother Nature hasn’t slowed down just yet, she has decided to provide us some hot weather, despite the humidity, and the hot weather is proving to be almost as hot as it was at the beginning of July this year.

Today is a lovely day, and it was the perfect time to take some photos. I also took some photos towards the end of last month, and Mother Nature doesn’t disappoint at all, she has created a trail of happiness, slight destruction, given the preparation of the hot weather, and not only that, but she has certainly made the path to Summer feel beautiful.

It’s amazing how Summer has come around so quickly, because last year was hot, but when you think just how hot the weather was two years ago, this hot weather doesn’t come anywhere near as close to the scorching hot weather of 2013. The hot weather of 2013 was hotter than it has been this year, and if you want me to be honest, last year’s weather was actually okay, because the weather wasn’t too warm, but was near enough just the right temperature for me to deal with.

The weather this year, however, has been relatively okay, if not just a little bit too hot for my liking, but I can deal with it for the time being, while the hot weather lasts.

If you like the photos, please feel free to download and use them as wallpapers for the designated device of your choice, and if you like how the photos have been taken, please feel free to share this article and if possible, please make sure to leave a comment underneath this article based on what you liked about this article and what you think stood out the most in this article overall.

Alex Smithson

Welcome to August!!! A Relaxing, Peaceful & Joyous Month Awaits!!!

Welcome to August!!!

Welcome to August on Mother Nature!!! With this month being set to be the most relaxing month, despite the scorching hot weather that will be impacting the UK soon, it’s safe to say that this month will be full of joy and relaxation, given just how lovely the weather has been so far.

In light of recent events however, I will be making a tribute article soon to pay my respects to the Formula 1 Racer, Jules Bianchi, who recently passed away on the 17th July 2015, coming just 9 months after a racing accident that left him with severe head injuries.

I will be making sure to make the most of the free time I still have before I re-enrol for my second year at Croydon College, as I want to make sure that I can get as many articles published on Mother Nature before I go back to college next month.

It’s hard to believe how this past year has gone so fast, it’s really scary, don’t you think? Though, truth be told, they always say that time flies when you’re having fun, working hard and enjoying yourself, and having laughs with many of those that you know. The time element has gone way too fast for my liking, though I just hope that the time element slows down for now.

You might have heard in the past 24 hours about everyone installing Windows 10 on their computers, well, in almost the past 72 hours, Microsoft have managed to reach 14 million downloads, due to unprecedented demand of those, like myself, who have reserved and downloaded the free copy of Windows 10, courtesy of Microsoft Corporation.

I must admit, I prefer Microsoft Edge over Google Chrome & Mozilla Firefox, because I’ve been using the all-new browser since Wednesday, and it is actually better than the semi-active Internet Explorer, which has always been slow. Give credit where it’s due, Internet Explorer had a good time whenever I used to use it, but it’s journey, as we all know it, has reached the end. Microsoft Edge…Welcome!!! We need you.

Moving on from the subject, with this month being set to be a relaxing, peaceful and joyous month ahead, I can’t wait to get some articles published on Mother Nature for all of you to read.

Until then, welcome to August on Mother Nature!!! A Relaxing, Peaceful & Joyous month awaits!!!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: July 2015

31st July 2015 - Monthly Roundup

To round off what has been an exciting, eventful, energetic and incredible month, I will now take a look back on the articles that have been published over the course of this month.

1.7.2015 – I welcomed you all back to Mother Nature for what would be a scorching hot July. This month was set to be an energetic and relaxing month, despite the hot weather. I also mentioned that my third book was finally reaching the completion stage, which was a fantastic sign, as I was itching to get the book finished and ready for release.

2.7.2015 – After a year of hard work, studying and revision, I was absolutely pleased to tell all of you that I had officially, as of this day, passed my UAL Level 2 Art & Design Course with a high Merit grade. This news came in light of the 8 units that I had completed and passed, with a Distinction on my research, which had resulted in me getting that high Merit grade for the whole course overall. I was also delighted to tell all of you that I had also received two certificate from Croydon College that day, one of which celebrates the outstanding achievement in terms of my exemplary attendance, while the other had celebrated my outstanding achievement I’ve made in terms of excellent achievement.

3.7.2015 – After 9 months of working on Book #3, I was absolutely pleased to tell you all that: “My Journey Through a Lens” would officially be out on Independence Day at 6:00 PM. The news of this book release finally came, as I had just finished up work on the book that day (and night), which had left me then to just prepare it so that it was officially ready for release the following day.

The book would contain over 400+ pages, and this book was indeed my largest book to date. It was originally going to be released towards the end of May, but because of the fact I had my college studies and revision to worry about, I had to hold off the released of the book to allow myself a lot more time to finish up the book and to also finalise it, so that it would give me a lot more time to work on it.

In terms of this book, some of the book would focus mainly around the photographical work that I have published on Mother Nature, and not only that, but most of the book itself would also focus around my own interests, as well as Croydon College.

4.7.2015 – After 9 months of hard work, effort and designing, My Journey Through a Lens finally became available as of this day. As the book was over 400+ pages long, this book was indeed the largest book I had ever made, which followed up from my previous book: “A Year in Photography”, which was released on the 1st September 2014. In this book, I talked about 6 historical icons, as well as musicians, from Ben Haenow to Madonna, and not only that, but I had also dedicated this book to a small number of people that I mentioned, including those that had passed away most recently. As of this day, you can now officially download my third book: “My Journey Through a Lens”, which is available now under “Free Books“.

9.7.2015 – Spinning back the clock to 1998, Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the 3rd, most popular installment in the series of Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot: Warped continues from where Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, left off. I wrote this review because I thought it would be good to relive the nostalgic days of gaming, when games were much better compared to some of the games that are around today. Some of the games that are around nowadays tend to leave little to the imagination, especially for those that are younger than the age that is given on the game’s PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating. Overall, I think the game is perfect, and it is one of the top-of-the-class games that you just can’t miss. To end this review, I gave the game an overall rating of 10/10.

13.7.2015 – On this day, the world lost a true gaming icon. Satoru Iwata of the worldwide gaming company, Nintendo, sadly passed away on Saturday 11th July 2015 at the age of 55 from cancer, following complications from a bile duct growth. On the same day, Nintendo had issued an official statement, which had documented the news of Satoru Iwata’s passing. To me, this was a massive shock, as I had only just found out the news of his death on the same day, and not only had his death shocked me, but his death had also been a massive shock to the gaming world. To pay tribute to Satoru Iwata, I would take a look back on his life as it unfolded, and the highlights of his career up until his death.

On that final note, thanks so much for an energetic, eventful, relaxing and perfect month, and I’ll see you all in August :-).

Alex Smithson

P.S. Here is the book in its physical glory :-).

0195b36fe57b959fb06841a1e76d12cc29020ff429

Satoru Iwata (1959 – 2015)

Satoru Iwata - 1959-2015

With such shock and sadness, the world lost a true gaming icon. Satoru Iwata of the worldwide gaming company, Nintendo, sadly passed away on Saturday 11th July 2015 at the age of 55 from cancer, following complications from a bile duct growth.

Today, Nintendo issued an official statement, which documents the news of Satoru Iwata’s passing, which can be viewed by clicking here.

To me, this is a massive shock, because I have only just found the news of Satoru Iwata’s death today, and not only has his death been a massive shock to me, but his death has also been a massive shock to the gaming world.

To pay tribute to Satoru Iwata, I will now take a look back on his life as it unfolded, and the highlights of his career up until his death.

Satoru Iwata (6th December 1959 – 11th July 2015)

Satoru Iwata was a Japanese businessman and also a game programmer who had served as the fourth President & Chief Executive Office (CEO) of Nintendo. He had worked as a programmer at the HAL Laboratory earlier on in his career, as this would help him to go on to develop the smash-hit games, such as the Super Smash Bros.’ series, the Kirby series and the Pokémon series, before joining Nintendo in 2000.

Satoru Iwata had also succeeded Hiroshi Yamauchi as the company’s President in May 2002, and he had directed the company to pursue the development of the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii consoles in 2006, which would help the company to become financially successful among many of the other game console manufacturers. He had served as the company’s President until his death on Saturday 11th July 2015.

Satoru Iwata’s Early Life

Satoru Iwata was born on the 6th December 1959 and was raised in Sapporo, in Japan; his father was a municipal mayor. He had expressed his interest in the creation of video games earlier on, and had began to produce electronic games at his home during his high school years. The several simple number games that Iwata had produced had made use of an electronic calculator that he had shared with his schoolmates.

Following on from high school, Satoru Iwata was admitted to the Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he would major in computer science. While he was attending the school, he did do a lot of freelance work as a programmer for HAL Laboratory, Inc., a game developer that had often collaborated quite closely with the international gaming company, Nintendo.

Satoru Iwata’s Career

HAL Laboratory

After he had graduated from university, Satoru Iwata had joined the HAL Laboratory company in a full-time capacity. Here, he had become the company’s co-ordinator for software production in 1983. Some of the video games that he worked on were Balloon Fight, EarthBound and the Kirby games. With the company itself being on the verge of bankruptcy, Satoru Iwata was promoted to be the President of HAL Laboratory in 1993, and in turn, he had helped to turn the company around and also stabilise its finances.

Satoru Iwata had assisted in the founding of Creatures Inc., which was established in 1995 by Tsunekazu Ishihara. Although he was not part of Nintendo at that time, Iwata had assisted in the development of Pokémon Gold & Silver, which were both released for the Game Boy Color in November 1999. Simultaneously, Satoru Iwata had aided in the programming of the Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo 64 by reading the original coding that was found in both Pokémon Red & Green, and reworking it for the new game. Satoru Iwata had also created a set of compression tools that were utilised in the Gold & Silver Versions of the Pokémon series.

Satoru Iwata & Nintendo

In 2000, Satoru Iwata had taken the position at Nintendo as the head of its corporate planning division. When Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company’s president since 1949, had retired on the 31st May 2002, Satoru Iwata had succeeded as Nintendo’s fourth President with Yamauchi’s blessing, and Yamauchi would then advise Iwata over the course of the next few years. Satoru Iwata was the first Nintendo President who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage. Iwata had also continued to help out at HAL Laboratory as a consultant.

At the time of Satoru Iwata’s promotion, Nintendo wasn’t performing as well as the other console makers, with its latest release, the Nintendo GameCube performing poorly compared to competitors. Iwata had stated back in 2006 that he felt that the gaming industry was becoming too exclusive, and that he wanted to develop hardware and games that would be appealing to all players.

Under his charge at Nintendo, Satoru Iwata had helped to lead a revitalisation of their handheld system, which would help them to transition from the Game Boy console series to the Nintendo DS Series, with a unique form factor that would allow for more novel games to be played on it. He had also pushed on the development of the Nintendo Wii platform, which had introduced the use of motion control-based video games.

Both units had proved to be highly successful to the company alone, with the release of the Nintendo Wii in 2006 helping to nearly double the stock price of Nintendo. Satoru Iwata’s former experience as a programmer, which was a rarity for technology CEOs, was said to have helped to contribute towards his leadership of the company. Due to his success, Barron’s had included Iwata on their list of the 30 top CEOs worldwide from 2007 to 2009.

He had commented on the Nintendo games in his section of Nintendo’s Wii website, Iwata Asks. In 2011, Satoru Iwata had helped to institute “Nintendo Direct”, which is a series of online press conferences that are open to all that had revealed upcoming Nintendo games and products that were outside of the typical industry channels, and were often done in a quirky, humorous manner, such as a mock battle between him and the Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aimé.

In the June of 2013, Satoru Iwata had decided to take the role of Nintendo of America’s CEO; as one of his first changes as CEO, Iwata had decided that they would not hold large press conferences at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), and instead have several smaller events, each that would be aimed at a certain demographic. This year, Iwata had put part of Nintendo’s focus on the growing mobile game market, and in turn, he created a partnership with the mobile provider, DeNA, to publish titles, as the traditional hardware console sales had began to falter.

As Iwata had stated, he would take half of his salary to help Nintendo’s poor finances and to better compete against the big technology companies, Microsoft Corporation and Sony Computer Entertainment.

While he was at Nintendo, Satoru Iwata had worked on The Legend of Zelda series, the Mario series and the Animal Crossing gaming series. He had also played as a cameo in Nintendo’s Wii game, WarioWare: Smooth Moves (also a part of the Nintendo Selects range, created by Nintendo), where he is referred to as: “Shop Manager Iwata”.

In his Keynote Speech at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in 2005, Satoru Iwata had stated in his speech:

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” – Satoru Iwata.

Satoru Iwata’s Illness & Death

In 2014, Nintendo had announced that Satoru Iwata would not be present at E3 2014 due to medical-related reasons. It was later revealed that he was undergoing surgery for a tumour in his bile duct. Yesterday, Nintendo had announced that Satoru Iwata had died the previous day at the age of 55 due to complications with this tumour. Today, Nintendo had issued the statement that had officially announced his death on Saturday 11th July 2015. He was survived by his wife, Kayoko. Funeral services are planned to be held on the 17th July 2015.

The flags at Nintendo’s headquarters were lowered at half-mast, and members across the gaming industry and fans alike had expressed their sadness on social media over Satoru Iwata’s passing and gratitude for his accomplishments. Shuhei Yoshida, the President of SCE Worldwide Studios (Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios), stated that: “He has given a great contribution to the development of the gaming industry. I will pray for Iwata’s soul.” The composer and director, Junichi Masuda, who was mostly known for his work with the Pokémon games, tweeted that: “He was a man who understood Pokémon, and a great leader. When I visited the other day, he was well. I will pray for his soul from the bottom of my heart.”

My thoughts go out to Satoru Iwata and his family at such a difficult time. We will miss you dearly Satoru Iwata, but you will never be forgotten for the wonderful and happy legacy you have left behind.

“Thanks to you, you have shaped the world of gaming with such positivity, and you have changed our lives for the better, in so many ways. You’ve inspired us to keep pushing and to keep going in life. Thank you. We will miss you Satoru Iwata, but you will never be forgotten for the wonderful legacy you’ve left behind. We will always remember you in our hearts forever.” – Alex Smithson

If you want to pay tribute to Satoru Iwata, please feel free to leave your tributes below in the comments.

Alex Smithson

Note: If there are any forms of slander made in the comments that have been written, they will be deleted. Please be respectful and pay tribute to Nintendo’s fourth President, Satoru Iwata. No Slander Allowed.

A Naughty Dog Classic | Crash Bandicoot: Warped

Crash Bandicoot Warped

Spinning back the clock to 1998, Crash Bandicoot: Warped was the 3rd, most popular installment in the series of Crash Bandicoot. Crash Bandicoot: Warped continues from where Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, left off.

In this installment, Crash Bandicoot: Warped is full of adventurous landscapes, each bringing along with them many different obstacles, some obstacles of which you can and cannot break, which requires you to overcome those obstacles through an alternative method.

As each level of the game progresses, you’ll begin to notice that each level becomes more challenging and also a lot harder to complete. Much of the levels contain secret pathways, which in effect, are useful as these secret pathways can allow you to collect any extra gems, and even the special gems to unlock further pathways to another part of that level.

The Crash Bandicoot series had proved to be a popular gaming series towards the end of the 1990s, as the Spyro the Dragon series had proved the same. Both of these gaming franchises, despite being released by two different developers, had proved that they had the staying power for more games to come, not like some of the games that are made today, because some of the games that are created today leave little to the imagination, especially for those younger than the age that is given on the game’s PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating.

Referring back to Crash Bandicoot: Warped, this game, to me, is such a fantastically crafted game where what would take a few minutes turns into hours, and before you know it, it could take days to complete, depending on how competitive you are.

I must admit, the levels I do find difficult to complete myself are the N.Gin Boss Level, and the flying level in the 5th world hard to complete. Those two levels are more of the pain-in-your-backside levels that look easy to start with, but then, the difficulty of the levels are turned all the way up to the hard setting.

There is a lot of potential for the Crash Bandicoot series to be remastered, though that will depend on whether a remaster ever occurs. It would be nice if the series was remastered and revived, because it would bring back a lot more value, not just for the original versions of the Crash series, but also for the potential remastering of the Crash Bandicoot series altogether.

Overall, I think this game is perfect, and this game is one of the top-of-the-class games that you just can’t miss. Play it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a childhood classic to me, and I bet that once you start playing this game, along with the other games in the Crash Bandicoot series, you won’t be disappointed, it’s that good :-).

My overall rating on this game: 10/10.

Alex Smithson

My Journey Through a Lens: Out Now!!!

My Journey Through a Lens - Out Now!!!

After just 9 months of hard work, effort and designing, My Journey Through a Lens is finally available, starting from today. With this book being over 400+ pages long, this book is indeed the largest book I have ever made, which follows up from my previous book: “A Year in Photography”, which was released last September.

As this book has pieced together bit-by-bit like a puzzle for the past 9 months, I have talked about certain famous icons, such as Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, Guy Fawkes, Mary | Queen of Scots, Winston Churchill and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and as well as that, I have also talked about the former president, Nelson Mandela.

In this book, I have also talked about our Croydon lad, Ben Haenow, who was crowned the winner of the X Factor 2014, and not only that, but I have also talked about the Queen of Pop, Madonna, who has been given 3 special mentions in terms of her recently released album, Rebel Heart (released on Monday 9th March 2015), along with her two recently released videos that followed on from her “Living for Love” video, Ghosttown and Bitch I’m Madonna.

There is so much in this book that I have offered, and I feel absolutely glad to have worked hard on this book, as it has given me the strength to continue writing not just for Mother Nature, but also the strength to write a 4th. Now that this book is finally out in the open, I will begin working on Book #4 soon, as I will be making sure to get this third book printed for my own use via the regular printing service, DoxDirect.

It was a lot of effort to work on this book, despite my college studies over the past year, which I have since finished and passed as well, but the most important thing is that I have taken all of the time that I need to design this book, and also format the layout of the pages, so that everything I’ve talked about has pieced together nicely.

I have also dedicated this book to a small number of people, which you’ll see on the back cover of the book, as I have dedicated this book to Ajay Mody, who sadly passed away on the 10th August 2014 after a short illness. I have also dedicated this book to the former Loose Women panellist, Lynda Bellingham, who had also sadly passed away on the 19th October 2014 from Colon Cancer. I have officially dedicated this book to the cricket player, Phillip Hughes, who had sadly passed away on the 27th November 2014, after a sudden accident.

Also, in light of this book, I have dedicated this book to a full-time working regular blogger, and that is Vijay Shah of the Half-Eaten Mind. This book is dedicated to Vijay, as he has guided me “along the way since I began my blogging journey, and is currently updating the Half-Eaten Mind with all new information”. He is a regular blogger who likes to study and keep people up-to-date on the things that he feels may interest everyone else, for example, Vijay recently studied Virtual Vexillology, which was split over 6 articles. If you’re wondering what vexillology is, vexillology is the studying of flags. If you want to at any time, please feel free to head to Vijay’s blog/website: “Half-Eaten Mind: News & Views from a Partially Digested Brain.

To round the book off on a high note, I have decided to celebrate and dedicate this book to our Croydon lad, Ben Haenow, who was crowned the winner of the X Factor 2014, with his debut single: “Something I Need (Originally released by OneRepublic) [Released by Ben in December]” going straight to Number 1. We are absolutely proud of you Ben Haenow!!! Proud to be a Croydonian!!! We will and shall always love you Ben!!!!!!!!!

If you want to download this book now, it can be found in the “Free Books” section on this website.

Enjoy :-)!!!!!!!!!

Alex Smithson

My Journey Through a Lens: Out Independence Day!!!

My Journey Through a Lens - Out 4th July!!!

After 9 months of working on Book #3, I am absolutely pleased to tell you that: “My Journey Through a Lens” will officially be out tomorrow at 6:00 PM. The news of this book release has finally come, as I have just finished up work on the book, and I am now preparing it so that it is officially ready for release tomorrow evening.

Containing over 400+ pages, this book is indeed my largest book to date. This book was originally going to be released towards the end of May, but due to the fact that I had my college studies and revision to worry about, I had to hold off the release to allow myself a lot more time to finish up the book and also finalise it, so that it would give me more time to work on it.

As I mentioned previously in the previously crafted articles surrounding this book, I have officially included 6 case studies, all of them of which focus on historical icons from the 1500s up to now, and as well as this, I have also included further interests that I am fond of, such as music and photography, as I have talked about our Croydon lad, Ben Haenow (Winner of the X Factor 2014) and also the Queen of Pop, Madonna.

In terms of the book, some of the book focuses mainly around the photographical work that I have published on Mother Nature, and not only that, but most of the book itself also focuses around my own interests, as well as Croydon College.

The front and back covers of the book, which were originally a tad fuzzy in terms of the method I used to use have since been resolved, as I have enlarged the book covers and the text into a much higher quality, which means that when you zoom in, it will be almost completely fuzz-free.

When you get to the end of the book, you can expect to see ten pages of photographs, and then the last page or few will focus on some quotes, some or most of which I have created by myself, but also some by other people, especially of those that are famous.

I am absolutely thrilled to have got to the end of this book, and I can’t wait to release it tomorrow. Once the book becomes available, I will be changing out the download icons in the Free Books section to the cover images of those books that were designed. Don’t worry, these books are always going to be free, including any other future books that I will create, and as always, every book I make will be made available for download via Dropbox.

Until then, I can’t wait to release the book, and please make sure to keep an eye on Mother Nature tomorrow, when the book gets released at 6:00 PM :-).

Alex Smithson