A (somewhat) relevant update

It’s been a while since my last post, but don’t take this as an indication that I haven’t been making progress! Okay, admittedly I’ve been questioning whether I really am making any decent progress recently, but I usually come to the conclusion that I’m heading in the right direction. I’ve been working my way through the Python course on Codecademy which can only be beneficial to the project, but doesn’t give any immediate feedback which makes me feel that I’m gonna get this finished in time.

At the moment, I have about a week left to finish it (realistically – I could work on it over fresher’s week but I can’t see that happening.) The reason I reverted back to relearning Python on Codecademy was because I started working on creating my app’s menu with using Tkinter but decided I wasn’t comfortable with the concept of OOP (Object Oriented Programming) in Python. In the process of updating my self I decided I’d just do the complete Python course since the first part of my course will be centred around the language.

Now that I’ve excused my absence, I’ll just say a few words about Codecademy. It’s a website which is focused on teaching programming to people who are completely new to the subject. This also includes a course on how to make your own website using HTML and CSS, which can be used in conjunction with some of the programming languages to develop a well-polished site of your own. I highly encourage anyone reading this blog to give the site a go, it gradually introduces you to programming concepts without being intimidating, unlike so many other resources that can be found elsewhere online. It is by no means perfect; a fair few of the exercises on the Python course were badly worded which made it difficult to understand what was being asked of you, but the included Q&A forum was always there to solve any issues I might have had. In a world where technology is becoming more and more important, I feel we should make more of an effort to actually understand the underlying systems that make that technology work. Anyway, I encourage you to give it a go, even if after a few sections you find it’s not for you. You never know, you might just enjoy it, and it’s an incredibly beneficial skill to have!

Now onto Tkinter! Tkinter is a python toolkit which can be used to make a GUI, which stands for Graphical User Interface. Essentially, I’ll be using it to create a window on the screen which will be used to select any options before starting the sensory process. The window will contain widgets (a term you may have heard if you use a smart phone, it stands for window gadget) such as buttons and tick-boxes. In the code for the program these will be represented as software objects, which was why I needed to recap on OOP in Python, as I mentioned earlier. Depending on what tick boxes are selected, the Tkinter menu will refer to other blocks of code which use other toolboxes to play music and display colours. At least, that’s how I’m imagining it in my head, I hope it is as simple as that. We’ll see how it goes!

That’s all for this post, but I’ll probably update again once I’ve got the menu sorted.

Update and “Shopping List”

Hey everyone! As usual I’ve allowed my self to neglect this blog, but at least this time it wasn’t out of a lack of interest. I’ve simply been having too much fun recently partying and giving my liver so many more reasons to hate me. I’m just gonna say it’s practice for freshers week!

Anyway at one of said parties I sat down and it suddenly hit me how overwhelming the premise of building this device is. I have very little direction at the moment, and have no idea how I’m going to put it all together so it’s definitely going to be a learning experience! While I figure all this out I’m going to be just posting little updates to let you all know how it’s going.

Right now I don’t have a massive amount to say, however I got my raspberry pi in the post today from York. It’s an updated version from the one I already had which is handy, and it also came with a case and 4GB sd card pre-loaded with Raspbian (the linux distribution designed specifically for raspberry pi.) The university has a learning environment which has some tips for what to do, with links to Python and raspberry pi tutorials. I already have some experience with Python which will come in handy when I move on to the battleships challenge and will hopefully allow me to develop my sensory device as well. I’ll be maintaining a presence on the forums York have set up for the challenges as well in the hope that some of my fellow students will have advice and/or inspiring ideas to drive me on to compete with them.

Just thought I’d include a quick “shopping list” for the project, to give an idea of what I’ll need to complete it. Now that I have access to two pi’s however I might see if I can use them together for a different purpose, but I haven’t given it enough thought for any solid decisions. For now I’ll just run with the idea I’ve already got and see where it takes me.

The list is as follows:

  • A raspberry pi (OMG NO WAY)
  • A case preferably, as to prevent any harm to the user and damage to the pi
  • A pair of (comfortable) headphones
  • A small screen, possibly touch-sensitive although this could cause confusion
  • Some fabrics/objects that feel nice to the touch
  • A capacitive touch sensor
  • Input devices such as a mouse + keyboard
  • Possibly a ribbon cable (I’m not sure yet, still need to look into this)

Gonna tidy my room now because it’s a mess and I need some desk-space to get my pi set up and running so I can start some real work on the project! I’ll keep you all updated.

Device Description and Plan Outline

Hey guys, how’s things? I’m just gonna start this post saying thanks to everyone who has liked any of my posts and also followed my blog, I appreciate it! I’ll try and maintain this steady flow of articles that I’ve been managing for you all, although obviously posts will slow down once I’ve got past the “explanation” stage and moved into the actual “development” stage.

This post will be outlining the process I plan to follow in the development of the device, describing the general idea of the device, the user interface and the senses that it will be stimulating and how. I’ll start off with a recap with what the device will be and how I’m planning for it to work. The idea is to make a sensory device that uses colours, sounds and touch to attempt to invoke happiness in the user. The plan is to have each “sense” toggle-able, so that there is no potential sensory overload from all three combined. The device I will be making will be tailored to one specific person, who for the sake of confidentiality will be referred to as ‘Mary’, but the general concept would be that the device would be modular and easy to modify depending on the needs of the individual i.e. different sound files, textures and colours.

The user interface will be as simple as possible, for reasons described in the previous post. If possible, the raspberry pi would boot directly into the program, otherwise it could be started using an input device such as a mouse or a touch-screen. The senses could be mixed and matched through button selections, and depending on the combinations different inputs would be required. If the “touch” sense is to be used then this would automatically activate any other senses selected, otherwise they would have to be manually activated. If the computer boots directly into the program then the desktop could be accessed through a keyboard command or key combination so that files for the software can be modified or the computer can be used for other purposes (battleships anyone?).

The sight sense would be stimulated using a small screen that would display a predetermined selection of colours at different brightnesses, shades and intensities. This could either be in reaction to the touch sense or it could be set to activate alone or with sounds.

With sound, the software will hopefully access a folder that contains pleasant pre-recorded sound clips and would play through them randomly, again either in response to the touch sense or on it’s own/with colour. The sound clips would be played through headphones so as not to disturb others.

Touch would be achieved through sensor’s attached to objects that the user finds pleasant to touch. The actual sensation of touch would be satisfied through actually touching the object (obviously) but the plan is for the touch to be an input device to activate the other senses. I’ll give an explanation of how this will work in a later post during the development process.

Hopefully now you all have a more in-depth idea of what it is I’m trying to produce. An important thing to keep in mind is that this is all speculative planning – I don’t know how much of this is actually possible and how much of it I will be capable of creating, but hopefully none of these ideas are too far-fetched. We’ll see in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.

Dementia, PCC and its Involvement in my Project

Well this is a first, two blog posts in a row! Today’s article will give a somewhat detailed discussion about Dementia, how my device will interlink with different aspects of it and how it will attempt to soothe those who suffer from it. I apologise in advance for the lack of images – I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not really the easiest topic to relate images with.

I’ll just start out by giving a bit of an explanation of just what dementia is. You’ll have to forgive me for not giving the most detailed description as I’m not a fully trained nurse, just a carer who has been working in a dementia care home environment for the lesser part of a year. Dementia usually develops in the elderly, either as a result of injury or long-term decline in cognitive ability. There’s no one-size-fits-all symptom that all sufferers of dementia exhibit; of all the people I’ve worked with, I’ve met those who are perfectly capable and you wouldn’t suspect they had any form of dementia, to those who pick at invisible pieces on tables and chairs to those who can barely comprehend what’s going on around them. This fact will raise a few issues in the development that I will mention in the next post – how is it possible to develop a one-size-fits-all device for a syndrome that is so varied? Dementia can effect anything from memory to language capabilities, and this will undoubtedly have an impact on my project.

As part of my training for the job, we did something called “Person Centred Care” (PCC). The idea of PCC is that because every resident’s case of Dementia is different, so their care should be centered around them. If a “system” is applied to all resident’s regardless of their personal needs then their quality of care is lowered as is their quality of life. This of course runs in parallel with what I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

PCC has four key elements that relate fairly well with my project plan: Identity, Autonomy, Occupation + Inclusion and Communication + Interaction. Identity focuses on maintaining a person’s sense of self, Autonomy is about maintaining independence and decision-making abilities, Occupation + Inclusion is about maintaining the ability to feel occupied and part of a community, while Communication + Interaction is to do with maintaining the ability to convey thoughts and feelings. An important thing to remember is that any form of behaviour can be communication, with every action there is a chance that the person is trying to communicate.

So how is my device going to cater to all of these key elements? I’ll go into the specifics in my next post but for now I will give a general outline for each aspect. With regards to Identity, the device will hopefully be customizable to each person using it. The creation of “profiles” will mean that using the device will be suited to the user. This will result in a feeling that it is them in specific that the device is catering towards. The feedback from the device will also be tailored to the user’s personal preferences as well, hopefully evoking memories and feelings within them to elicit a sense of self.

Autonomy can be obtained by designing a user interface that is simple enough to be used regardless of cognitive ability. The ultimate goal is to not have an obvious user interface at all, instead ending up with a device that simply provides feedback naturally. I’ll explain this idea in more detail in the following post. Occupation + Inclusion will hopefully be provided by the fact that it is a device that can be shared. Others can experience the sensory experience that makes the primary user relaxed and comfortable. This does not necessarily have to be a pleasant experience for everyone, going back to personal preference, but it includes others in the device idea.

Finally, I plan to assist with Communication + Interaction by using the device as a “middle-man”. By using the device to promote happy emotions, the user will hopefully be more inclined to cooperate and express their needs. On the other hand, by observing the reactions of the user, one can attempt to decide what they do and do not like. For users that might not understand language well enough to express their preferences, by using other sensory feedback it might be possible.

Although a lot of this is speculative, it is all part of an ongoing process, and I hope to develop it further into a device which is influenced as much by PCC as I was while working at the care home. The next post will discuss in more depth the plans for the device itself and how it will all work in tandem to provide an overall sensory experience for the user.

I hope that this article has been an interesting read, keep an eye out for the following one within a few days!

Computer Science Project: An Introduction

Hello everyone, I’m back!! Why do I always start my blog posts apologising for the long bouts of silence? I guess I’ll never be a major player in the world of blogging. BUT GOOD NEWS! I have a completely new topic to be discussing: No Japan! No video games! No rants about society inspired by TV programmes! Today I am going to be starting a new series of posts on the fantastically interesting topic of Computer Science! What’s that I hear you say? “Please Flinn tell me more about this brilliant subject that we all hold a special place for in our hearts just like you!” Well good people of the internet, tell you more I shall!

Computer Science WOOO! amiright?

Computer Science WOOO! amiright?

As many of my friends and family will know all too well since I’ve been reminding them every few minutes, I’ll be heading off to the University of York in less than two months to start my 5-year course in Computer Systems and Software Engineering. About a month or so ago I received an email from the the department of computer science about a competition being held in the first week of term. There are two parts to the competition: the first is to develop something out of a raspberry pi (anything you can think of), and the second is to program a raspberry pi to play battleships to be entered into a tournament against other entrants. (For anyone confused right now, a raspberry pi is a small credit-card sized computer than can be programmed to do anything its hardware will allow.)

I’m going to be focusing on the former in the following blog posts. I might move onto the battleships afterwards but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh people! So after receiving this email I started to play with a few ideas. I’d been planning on making a remote control robotic arm out of a raspberry pi I bought a few months ago but, as usual, my plans never came to fruition as I got distracted by something probably far less productive. This little fact led me to the idea of a small device on wheels that could follow sounds and find the source of the noise, thus activating a distress beacon that would notify local emergency services. The idea was to make a device that could (in theory) be used in search-and-rescue situations to find survivors in wrecks.

My very own Raspberry Pi

My very own Raspberry Pi

WHAT A BAD IDEA! How was a novice like me going to make something like that with little to no prior experience in practical programming or hardware development? So along came my second idea. I’ve been working in a care home for dementia for around 7 months now, and I thought it would be interesting to base my project around that. The result is the idea of a sensory device which caters to the senses of touch, sight and hearing. I’m going to be walking you through the development of this device step by step as I tackle any difficulties I come across. I’ll be starting off with an introduction and brief discussion about dementia itself before detailing the general structural plans for the project. Following this I’ll move on to the development of the device itself and everything this entails. I hope the posts will be interesting, informative and enjoyable, and I hope that I learn as much from it as you as readers will.

Wish me luck!

My Discovery of the action-RTS genre made me LoL

Before I begin I feel the need to apologise for two things: Firstly, my frankly appalling pun in the title and also, yet again, the huge gap since releasing my last post. I don’t have much of an excuse really apart from a few exams and other interests taking priority, which is a shame considering how much I get lost in writing these. Anyway, on with the show! This post is going to be an actual review rather than my usual rant about life or the video games industry, I hope you enjoy!

I recently, while tidying up the contents of my 1TB HDD which is slowly filling up with games, stumbled across one which I installed a significant while ago which subsequently fell off the virtual “shelf” that is my desktop into some dusty corner of my program files folder (don’t you just love metaphors?) If you, like me and many others, take an interest in keeping up to date in the world of PC games then you will have undoubtedly guessed which game I’m talking about from the title. For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m droning on about, the game in question is League of Legends by Riot Games, the original creators of the action-RTS genre through the game DOTA, or Defence of the Ancients, a mod initially created for Warcraft III. So, using a completely alien post format to me, I’m going to attempt at a fair review of this game.

The general idea behind the game is that each player is a ‘summoner’ who can control one of a very large list of champions in a match of either 5v5 or 3v3. Each map has three lanes which in turn each have six turrets, three for each team. Minions (or creeps) are dispensed from each team’s base at regular intervals as fodder for the turrets and enemy champions. Every player starts every match at level one and killing enemy minions and champions net you experience points and gold, which can be used to buy items from your team’s base to make you stronger. The aim of the game is to gradually fight your way through each lane into the enemy base and destroy their inhibitors which allow you to spawn super-minions. The match is finished by destroying the enemy nexus, a large building in the middle of their base. The game is significantly more in-depth than this as you will learn if you give it a go, but these are the basics of it. On with the review!

The Good

It’s Free to Play

The entire game of League of Legends can be played for free without feeling like you’re missing out on anything. Paying for things is completely optional, with things such as extra IP/level and champions being purchasable with real money. On top of this however you have things called Influence Points (the IP I just mentioned) which are a type of in-game currency that can be used to buy champions. These are gained through playing more matches, although after each match you are reminded by a greyed-out portion of the IP bar that you could be earning more if you paid some of your hard-earned cash. You may be thinking right now “well why do I need to buy the champions, you just told me it was completely free”, well that’s true but the list of free-to-play champions changes every week which means you effectively get to try-before-you-buy. It’s a good system and allows you to stockpile your IP until you find a champion you find fun to play.

Art Style

The art in League of Legends is quite honestly mind-blowing. I’m probably just easy to please or something but browsing the roster of champions is almost as entertaining as playing the game itself. Each character is illustrated perfectly in their own unique style, and the sheer variety of characters is mind-boggling, from an armour-clad polar bear to a small girl whose teddy transforms into a live fireball-slinging bear. Each character has their own backstory as well as a list of tips on how to play them. Clicking their portrait expands the images of multiple skins (more on them in a minute) which can be scrolled through. Stats can be found on the left which are split into four separate bars: Attack damage, Health, Magic Damage and how difficult they are to play.

Some skins take their cues from popular movies

The Community

On the whole the community is a friendly one. My main problem is that there are very few British people in the European servers (as far as I know there aren’t any UK ones) although the majority of German players seem to speak good enough English to have a conversation. After good matches you might even find yourself getting friend requests from people who thought you played well. On top of this, there are several online forums and websites which are dedicated to the game for people who enjoy talking about it outside of playing and also for people to write guides on playing certain champions. I regularly use these guides when I rapidly begin to suck at playing a new champion for the first time.

The Not-So-Good

It’s an E-Sport

There’s something about the fact that this game is an e-sport which really makes me cringe a bit. I’ve never quite understood e-sports really; I mean, playing a game for fun is perfectly acceptable but playing it as a sport? Surely playing a real sport would be more beneficial? (apart from the really expensive prizes the winners get)

Skins

I wasn’t sure whether to put this in the good or not-so-good category, because these are the main fuel of the art-direction I mentioned earlier. They effectively quadruple the amount of pretty pictures to look at, and top of that they change your look in-game which can be an important thing when you’re watching your little champion running around match after match. On the other hand however, they aren’t purchasable through IP. This means when you see someone prancing about with their awesome flaming wolf skin which you really really want you actually feel the urge to get it. If only I were rich…

The diversity of each champion and their abilities keep the game interesting, and new ones are being released all the time

Accessibility

It’s all well and good making your game free-to-play, but the new barrier for League of Legends is it’s hostility towards new players. Not deliberately of course, but the reason I forgot about it for so long was because I gave it a try and got completely thrashed repeatedly, which in turn made it a pretty boring game for me. It’s unlike any other genre I’ve played. You can’t just run in and win the game in a matter of minutes like many new players think you can, it’s largely influenced by strategy. Of course, once you’re used to this concept the game opens up into an incredibly enjoyable experience, but resisting that urge to dive head-on into a turret without being surrounded by your minions is nearly impossible at first.

The Bad

It can get Repetitive

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to play match after match without getting a bit bored. Being able to test out different champions each week is refreshing but still I can only manage a match or two a day in fear of losing interest. Sometimes you get very exciting matches where you think your winning and then the team suddenly push back in a surprise-win but it doesn’t happen often.

Trolls

I had an unbelievably bad day where I just seemed to get bad player after bad player on my team. The worst thing is that it’s difficult to differentiate between a completely new player to the game and a troll. The main way of telling is if they openly reveal themselves by hurling abuse at you as they ruin the game. They do this through one of two ways: a process called “feeding” in which they run straight towards enemy champions and let themselves die thus giving the enemy team ample gold to buy whatever they need to thrash the opposite team. Or they can just go idle and stand in the base doing nothing. A big flaw in the game is that people can’t drop in mid-game, so if someone is away from the computer or leave the game then you’re stuck at a massive disadvantage from having fewer champions than the enemy team. Saying this however, I’ll never forget the match me and two complete strangers were the only ones left against a full team of five. They had pushed us back to our base and we managed to hold out a further half an hour, nearly breaking into their base before one of our guys lost connection and in the time it took to reconnect we had effectively lost the game.

Feeder, feeder, wherefore art thou feeder

I guess this goes to show that incredibly fun moments can branch from the more annoying aspects of the game. All in all it’s a very fun game once you’re used to it, despite how long that actually takes to achieve. You might not want to take my word for it, but the 11.4 million other players are proof of its success. If you want something you can just play every now and again then I would say go for it. On the other hand if you want something you can play all day and not get bored of I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic. If you liked my review then sign up to my blog and leave a comment, I’d much appreciate it! I’m hopefully planning on the next blog entry being on the modding community, so look out for it.

Black Mirror and Our World Today

Before I begin I should probably point out that this post describes the plot of the second Black Mirror short film, although I’ve tried to miss out anything which is a major spoiler. However if you’re sensitive to spoilers it would probably be best to watch it first on 4oD. Please note that these are my own views and aren’t necessarily definitely what Charlie Brooker was trying to get across, so if you got anything else out of it feel free to leave a comment. People who’ve already watched it might as well skip the next three paragraphs.

So I watched Black Mirror again last night, a trilogy of short films by Charlie Brooker which, in the words of 4oD, “tap into the collective unease about our modern world.” And I can see exactly where they’re coming from. Last week’s episode saw the prime minister (not Cameron, unfortunately) committing embarrassing and horrific sexual acts on a pig after receiving a threat from a terrorist that he would kill a kidnapped member of royalty if he did not comply. Part of the demand was that it would have to be aired on national live TV, while millions of people watched on regardless of how disgusting it was. Although it made a few good points, such as how things like YouTube (where the video of the hostage was uploaded) and Twitter can cause widespread publicity about anything, and that people feel no shame for pressurising someone in the public eye to do something as degrading as that, I found it almost too ridiculous and couldn’t really take it seriously. However, I felt that the second film made many excellent points about our world.

The first episode showed what a blood-thirsty and dangerous weapon this little bird can be

The film was set in an exaggerated future where humans, once they had reached twenty-one began their working life peddling on a bike every day which earned them ‘merits’, the currency of their new existence. Wherever they went, adverts followed them on the screens that made up the virtual life they seemed to be living. If they closed their eyes, the screens would flash red and order them to open their eyes again and money would be taken from them if they decided to skip the adverts. In front of the bikes were screens which displayed an avatar of the person riding it, and a choice of different TV shows and games that were accessed by hand gestures. One of the shows was basically fat people getting food shoved in their faces and being laughed at. Although there was no explicit explanation to this, I think it hinted at the discrimination of fat people, but I’ll get onto that later.

The story of the short film saw the main protagonist (Bing) falling in love with a girl he spots one day (Abi), and after hearing her singing in the toilets offers to pay the 12 million merits out of his 15 million he has saved up to pay for an entrance ticket onto ‘Hotshots’, a futuristic parody of X-Factor which included the cliché two-guys-and-a-girl judge panel, one of which was your typical horrible judge who always puts it blunt. After finding out that the price has gone up to 15 million but going ahead with it anyway, the two head down to the studio and instantly get picked from the incredibly packed room to go onto to the stage immediately. You’ll have to watch the rest of the episode yourself to find out what happens, because I’m droning on and don’t want to spoil too much. Suffice to say that in the end he saves up another 15 million merits and returns to the show to get his revenge on something bad that happens the first time around and ends up giving a speech about the world they live in only to be manipulated instantly by the judges.

The Simon Cowell of Black Mirror

I think that the film made several excellent points about society, one of the main ones being about advertisement. We live in an age where advertisement is everywhere, it’s almost impossible to escape. I’ve never lived in a city, so I haven’t experienced the full force of advertisement but even in a small town like Aberystwyth you see it on the sides of buses, constantly on TV and on signs scattered about the town itself. We’re constantly told to buy, buy, buy, and a massive point made in the film was that we’re not buying anything of any worth – we just buy things. The example in the film was that people could spend their merits on getting new clothes for their virtual selves. It sounds ridiculous and pointless if you think about it, because what difference does it make if a picture on a screen which merely represents you is wearing a hat? A had made of pixels, a hat which isn’t going to keep you warm or have any practical use at all. Like I said, it sounds ridiculous but it’s happening in this very day and age. The main thing that springs to mind is Xbox Live, where people have their own avatar for which there are thousands and thousands of pieces of clothing and accessories you can buy. Another example is a recent Steam sale I was inevitably drawn into, where a game was being sold for an incredibly low price, although I could pay a few pounds extra so that I had more character models to pick from. I eventually came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t change how much I enjoyed the game seeing as it was first-person so I couldn’t see my guy anyway but I never ended up buying the game at all. The point is that people will actually buy those extra characters without thinking about it and realising that it makes no difference whatsoever.

This stuff will seriously change your life.... Really. And it's definitely worth your money

This constant need that we all feel to buy things we want completely dominates our society and completely messes up our priorities. And I can’t say that I don’t include myself in this because I know that I definitely do. Take for instance my passion for videogames. Throughout my lifetime I have probably spent thousands of pounds on them, but what for? I enjoy them while I’m playing them, but they distract me from the things that really matter, which was something I learnt from going to Japan. There’s a whole world out there full of amazing things but we’re all too obsessed with work and materialistic things to notice or care. One thing I’ve noticed since watching it though is that advertisements are starting to use these “things that matter” to sell more products. For instance, the Christmas Nintendo Wii advert sees a father writing to Santa asking for a Wii so that he can have some good bonding time with his son. Am I right in thinking that this isn’t how a father should bond with his son or am I due in for a reality check?? It’s sad in that we’re merging the things that don’t matter with the things that do. Despite saying this, I doubt I’ll instantly change into a better person overnight, if at all.

Work was another thing the film addressed. When people reached the age of twenty-one they started their working life, peddling on the bike to generate more energy for our power-hungry world. One of the biggest and most challenging questions asked in philosophy is ‘what is the meaning of life?’, and it seems almost obvious that it’s all about the preservation of your species. Okay, it’s not an in-depth and philosophical answer, but it’s true. We might try to thinly veil it but everything we do is to keep mankind alive and kicking. We work from a young age until an old age to keep our society going, and then we have the rest of our lives off to do what we want. Think about it: we go through primary school learning the fundamentals of life, then it’s straight on to secondary school to learn how to learn then we’re split into two groups. There are the people who leave school after stage two to go and find work and there are the people who stay on at sixth form to learn to be more independent with their learning. For the people in the first group, that’s where their working life begins. They might jump from job to job but it’s generally work, work, work from there on. The people from the second group still have a good few years of “freedom” left, eventually going to university and becoming individual adults (something group one have probably already achieved) and tailoring themselves to cater for a specific choice of career. Then they leave and eventually find a job and they’re set for life – emphasis on ‘for life.’ We work until we’re old and then we’re rewarded for our work through pensions, or “free” money. But by then we’ve not got a massive amount time left to actually do much, and we’re too old to do a lot of it anyway. It makes you wonder what’s actually wrong with the ‘live fast – die young’ attitudes some people have towards life, because they probably get just as much out of it as anyone else.

I want one of these so I can have a meaningful and bonding experience with my father... No? Oh well, it was worth a shot

However it’s not like that right now, what with the economic crisis and everything. Nobody can find jobs anymore, so we don’t have any money. And even if we could find jobs and did have money we’d be too busy to spend it on things that mattered. And this bring me onto my final point about reality TV (X-Factor specifically) and the points about it that were made in the film. People are turning to desperate solutions with the hope of one day getting famous, and these shows are one of those solutions. Reality TV is incredibly manipulative and abusive. Okay, maybe a bit of a dramatic way of putting it, but look up the contract that contestants sign when they sign up for a reality TV show and you’ll probably be shocked. It’s becoming commonplace to put someone on a stage so that they can be manipulated and embarrassed in front of millions of people watching across whole nations, and we don’t even notice how wrong this is. For instance, on this year’s X-Factor, one contestant (a female) was receiving abusive hate-mail calling her fat among other things. Now she definitely wasn’t fat, but we’re living in a world where if you’re in the public eye and aren’t super-skinny then you’re automatically clinically obese. Another boy on the show got through and was instantly put on a diet to make him lose weight. It’s sad that to be famous you have to fit a mould otherwise you’ll get nowhere. And why do the judges bother to do all this? Is it because they’re really nice people and simply want you to end up a better person, or is it simply because they make wheelbarrows of money from you, both through the show and afterwards?

I know I’m being incredibly cynical about everything but the reason for this is that it was a cynical film; I know there are loads of good things about our world and I’m a happy and positive person really, don’t get me wrong haha! Anyway, well done for making it this far, I only wish I could write this much in a few hours for my multiple courseworks… If you haven’t watched any of the Black Mirror films yet then I implore you to do so, because they’re very thought-provoking as you can probably see!

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