Monthly Roundup: March 2017

This month flew like the wind, and it only felt like yesterday we just kicked off 2017! Time has flown so fast lately that it’s impossible to keep up with the speed of time.

I will make sure to take a look back at the articles published over the course of this month, and of course, I will be making sure to remember the victims and the police officer that died on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 down Westminster Bridge, London, as a result of the horrific terrorist attack.

1.3.2017 – Welcoming all of you to March on Mother Nature, I mentioned that I decided to go retro with the article image and did it up in the inspired style of Sonic Mania, considering that Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017 (now officially titled ‘Sonic Forces’) would be released over the next few months. I also mentioned that the next few weeks would be much busier considering my Summative Assessment deadline for the Self-Directed Curiosity Project was just around the corner.

3.3.2017 –  After a three-year break from music, and after his hotly anticipated second studio album became the most streamed album on Spotify and other music services, Ed Sheeran is back with his third studio album, ÷. Shape of You really sets the tone of his latest album, because it has a unique vibe that really sets the mood you want to experience when listening to this album. I mentioned that ÷ is the first ever vinyl record I have owned and that I felt so honoured to go retro for the first time and it was an absolute honour to review Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Deluxe) album.

8.3.2017 – As this day marked International Women’s Day, I wanted to make sure all women across the world get to celebrate being the women they are and to always be themselves. I also mentioned that all women deserve equality, diversity, respect, compassion, care and love regardless of skin colour, sexuality, gender, culture, religion and place of origin and that it’s right for all of us, including myself to celebrate all women as part of International Women’s Day.

15.3.2017 –  Let’s face it. We’ve all seen for ourselves the negative stigma that has become attached to Mental Health. The negative stigma has all too often put a strain on all governments and organisations, with Mental Health sufferers having to experience the harsh reality that they may end up not being allowed to access the help, support and treatment they need. Writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my anxiety, and although I am not officially diagnosed, I do suffer from Anxiety, and writing this article gave me the chance to be open about my Anxiety, as well as to how I have been able to manage and keep my Anxiety under control.

20.3.2017 – It was an absolute honour for me to share with you, my review of Oli Regan’s recently released début album, My Diary of Pain. I talked about how the rawness of Oli’s voice on this album really stands out, as he spoke from the heart, the mind and the soul about how he really feels. If you get a chance, please do listen to his album, My Diary of Pain, it is so good!

22.3.2017 – 24.3.2017 – No articles were published as I released an open statement on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 in light of the horrific terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London, in which 3 victims died, including the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

25.3.2017 –  After months of rumours and speculation that she was pregnant, Cheryl & Liam officially announced a few weeks before that they were expecting their first child together. It became official that Cheryl & Liam officially welcomed their first ever child together!

Also, on this day, I asked you all if you were ready for the clocks to go forward, considering that the time went quicker than expected and that it had only felt like it was yesterday we had just put the clocks back one hour, which proves and rings true even to this day that time sure does fly.

26.3.2017 – As this day marked Mother’s Day, I wished all mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day and hoped that all mothers had their Mother’s Day filled with love, happiness, joy, respect, compassion and care.

28.3.2017 – As part of my Final Major Project for the last year of my UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma Film & Photography Course at Croydon College, I was asked to produce a 6 minute and 40 second presentation on a time-keeping tool called Pecha Kucha, which is the Japanese term for Chit-Chat.

Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for Chit-Chat, is where you produce 20 slides that have to be exactly 20 seconds each. For every slide, you would need to explain in 20 seconds for each slide a brief run-down of the kind of work you are going to produce, regardless of whether it is project-based or not. The 20 slides would have to consist of one or more short sentences you can talk about within 20 seconds, including any work you have currently produced to date.

As my Pecha Kucha presentation focused solely on Facial Expressionism, I mentioned that I would research certain photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, Walker Evans, August Sander, Thomas Ruff and any other photographer that specialises in Facial Expressionism; the field of work I want to produce.

29.3.2017 –  In the last few years, the police numbers have gone down due to cuts that have been made to save our government money, our money of which is supposed to be used to keep our police officers on the streets. On Wednesday 22nd March 2017, exactly one year to the day of the devastating attacks that took place in Brussels, which saw 35 people killed (32 victims, 3 perpetrators), with more than 300 people injured, a terrorist attack took place down Westminster Bridge, where 5 people were killed as a result, one of which was the terrorist, while the other was a police officer who was stabbed and sadly died as a result of his injuries.

31.3.2017 – I published two photographic articles that focused on Croydon, considering that I ceased the opportunity to photograph Croydon while the lovely weather lasts. The weather has been absolutely peaceful lately and it was good to see that the weather was finally looking up and that it was most certainly shaping up to make the two-week holiday as relaxing and as peaceful as ever!

Thanks so much for a great month everyone, and although it was a great month, it was also quite devastating as a result of the terrorist attack that took place down Westminster Bridge, London and I shall take this opportunity to pay my full respects and condolences to the families of the victims who lost their loved ones on Wednesday 22nd March 2017, including paying my full respects and condolences to the family of the police officer, PC Keith Palmer.

Again, thanks so much for a good month everyone, and I will see you all in April!

Alex Smithson

Monthly Roundup: June 2015

As I round June off on a high note, I will now take a look back on this month as it unfolded, and I will go through a quick roundup of the articles I have published on Mother Nature over the course of this month.

1.6.2015 – I welcomed you all back to Mother Nature for what would be a relaxing and peaceful month that would lie ahead. I also did a very short look back as I mentioned in this article that it would be one year ago this month that I had left school for good, given that I had also mentioned that I took a near-enough 5-month hiatus from February 2014 to June 2014, as I had my final exams to worry about.

6.6.2015 – Mother Nature marked a very important milestone on this day, as this day saw Mother Nature officially mark it’s 2nd birthday on WordPress. In the space of two years, I have gone on to publish two books online, one of which I have a physical copy of, and with my third book being close to being ready for its final release, I have felt absolutely proud to have come this far in the space of 2 years.

29.6.2015 – After a month-long wait and a lot of research, I was finally able to publish Case Study #6, which focused on the Former President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. This Case Study is the first case study to have more than 10,000+ words containing dozens of research about a Former President.

30.6.2015 – Following just weeks after Apple held their Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 8.4 was officially released to the masses. Along with this update brought the newly-announced music service, Apple Music. After 2 very long years, the United Kingdom, for the first time ever, gets access to iTunes Radio, including the new Radio Station, Beats 1 Radio (a.k.a. B1), and with this update came an entirely redesigned Music app, which was given not just a massive overhaul in design, but it also brought back with it the ability to play music videos in the Music application, but in Landscape Mode, which was a commonly used feature that was often seen quite frequently in iOS 6.

Also on this day, I published a Special Music Feature article on the Queen of Pop, Madonna’s high-octane music video: “Bitch I’m Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj)”. This music video had featured a numerous amount of cameo appearances. These cameo appearances featured the likes of Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Chris Rock, Diplo, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Alexander Wang, Rocco Ritchie & David. This video, as mentioned by some, if not a lot of people, would wipe Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video to the floor. This video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, who had previously directed Madonna’s previous video, Ghosttown, taken from Madonna’s 13th Studio Album, Rebel Heart.

Thanks so much to all of you, that’s including my friends, my family, my two main role models and also all of you for such a fantastic, relaxing and peaceful month, and I’ll see you all in July. Also, before I conclude this monthly roundup on a high note, I am delighted to let you know I will be publishing more articles over the course of July and August, now that I have got a huge amount of time on my hands until September. Again, thanks so much to all of you for a fantastic, relaxing and peaceful month, and I’ll see you all in July!!!

Alex Smithson

[Note: Please make sure to keep a close eye out for my third book: “My Journey Through a Lens”, as it will be out very soon, and I will also be announcing the release date for this third book on Mother Nature :-).]

iOS 8.4 Available Now. Go & Get it!!!!!

Coming just weeks after iOS 9 was unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (also known as WWDC), iOS 8.4 has just officially been released to the masses. With this update comes the official Apple Music service, as well as many of the other new features that are now available in this update. This update came two hours early ahead of the usual release time that Apple have normally stuck to since the first ever iPhone, iPod touch and iPad were released.

Also, the Music app has officially been redesigned and includes new features, such as Recently Added, which is seen most commonly in iTunes. As well as that, the music player has finally got a mini player as you would most commonly see in iTunes as well, and to top it all off, Up Next and other further features in the Music app have finally been added.

Upon opening the Music application, you’ll be greeted with the Apple Music logo and background, with two options that will come up, giving you the chance to choose whether you want to start your 3-month free trial with Apple Music today, or if you don’t, you get the chance to just go to your music library.

Here is the full changelog for iOS 8.4, covering the features that are new to the software, as well as the music application’s icon being given a redesign, ready for the iOS 9 update coming in the Autumn:

This update introduces Apple Music — a revolutionary music service, 24/7 global radio, and a way for fans to connect with their favourite artists — all included in the redesigned Music app. iOS 8.4 also includes improvements for iBooks and bug fixes.

Apple Music

  • Become an Apple Music member to play from millions of songs in the Apple Music catalogue, or keep them offline for playback later.
  • For You: Members can see playlist and album recommendations, hand-picked by music experts.
  • New: Members can find the latest, greatest new music available — direct from our editors.
  • Radio: Tune in to music, interviews and exclusive radio shows on Beats 1, play radio stations created by our editors, or create your own from any artist or song.
  • Connect: See shared thoughts, photos, music and videos from artists you follow, then join the conversation.
  • My Music: Play from all your iTunes purchases, songs from Apple Music, and playlists in one place.
  • Completely redesigned music player that includes new features such as Recently Added, Mini Player, Up Next and more.
  • iTunes Store: Still the best place to buy your favourite music — one song or album at a time
  • Availability and features may vary by country.

iBooks improvements and fixes

  • Browse, listen and download audiobooks from inside iBooks.
  • Enjoy the all-new Now Playing feature, designed specifically for audiobooks.
  • Books that are Made for iBooks now work on iPhone in addition to iPad.
  • Find and pre-order books in a series straight from your library.
  • Improves accessibility of widgets, glossary and navigation in books made with iBooks Author.
  • New default Chinese font.
  • New setting to turn off Auto-Night theme in your library.
  • Resolves an issue that may have prevented Hide Purchases from working.
  • Resolves an issue that may have prevented downloading books from iCloud.

Other improvements and bug fixes

  • Fixes an issue where receiving a specific series of Unicode characters causes device to reboot.
  • Fixes an issue that prevented GPS accessories from providing location data.
  • Fixes an issue where deleted Apple Watch apps could re-install.

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:

http://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT1222

After an extremely long wait, iTunes Radio has officially arrived in the United Kingdom, and can now be found next to the playlist icon. Also, Beats 1 and many other various radio stations are now available within the Music app. Apple Music Connect is also a welcome of open arms, meaning that after some time, you can now follow your favourite musicians, either through tapping on the “Follow” button, or by tapping on the “Automatically Follow Artists” button when you add the music from your iTunes Library to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad device.

At last, after a long wait, landscape mode for music videos has officially returned to the Music app, a commonly used feature that was in iOS 6.

The Music application has had a major design overhaul and has also been more of a focus for Apple, considering that the Apple Music service has just officially been launched today.

Below are the screenshots that show iOS 8.4, and the redesigned Music application all in action (including iTunes Radio UK & Beats 1 Radio).

I have checked in the Music app, and it’s a luck of the draw, if you feel that you don’t want to subscribe to Apple Music, there is an option to say no, as Apple have put an option below the “Start 3 Month Free Trial” button, saying “Go to My Music”. This is a wise move from Apple, as this means that you don’t have to worry about it, you can still use the Music app for free, and making purchases in the iTunes Store and the App Store, including the desktop version of the iTunes Store mean that you can still use iTunes and the Music app for free without having to pay, unless you’ve already started the 3-month free trial with Apple Music today.

If you haven’t already, please make sure to go ahead and upgrade your iPhone, iPod touch (5th Generation) or iPad to the latest software. This iOS update is much better now and is worth the upgrade. It is also the most stable software update that Apple have released before the final version of iOS 9 arrives in the Autumn.

To update your iOS Device, go to the Settings app, then to General, and then to Software Update, where the update will be available to download and install.

Until then, enjoy the update!!!

Alex Smithson

© Apple 2015

© iOS Logo Copyright of Apple.

© Any of the logos, including the screenshots that have references of musicians and their album artwork, that’s including the changelog that was used in this article are all courtesy of Apple. No Copyright Infringement Intended.