Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Twitter vs Facebook

These are the top two social networking sites of our generation (so far) so which one is the best? To be fair, its quite hard to have them battling against each other as they are both quite different and serve different purposes so most people own and use both sites. But here goes anyway...let the battle commence.

Round One: Logo
As it is aesthetically pleasing, this first round obviously has to go to Twitter. Who doesn't love the little blue bird? It's so cute. Whereas facebook is just an 'F.' We know how to spell!!!
Winner: Twitter

Round 2: Layout
Both have a similar layout of a profile page where you can view everything that you upload and then a main news feed where you can see everything that people you follow/are friends with uploads. The layouts are both similarly easy to navigate and skim down the different stories. But Twitter wins, just about, because it is hugely less cluttered than facebook so is a little less daunting.
Winner: Twitter

Round 3: Pictures
Both sites have opportunities to share pictures with those that follow you/are friends with you. But Facebook obviously wins this round hands down with the organisation of the photos into albums, the ability to tag your friends in them and their attractive layout. Twitter's photos can only be viewed by going on the particular person profile and then you have to trawl through every single one in the album, without the ability to skip to one further in the album.

Round 4: Thoughts
This is where twitter really comes into its own. Multiple statuses on Facebook often annoy your friends, which is why most people own a Twitter alongside where they can let off steam (within 140 characters). And no one complains because this is its whole purpose. Plus, the only people who can view them are those that follow you and therefore are interested in what you say! So you can spill out your thoughts to your heart's content without feeling embarrassed.
Winner: Twitter

Round 5: Interactions
With its superior forms of communication through chat, email and public posting on walls, Facebook seems like an automatic winner. But do not be so hasty - twitter, I also think gives the pretty unique opportunity to contact celebs. And many of them (well, the nicer ones) do actually bother to reply. So I have very generously declared this round, a draw =]
Winner: Draw

Round 6: Marketing
And by this I mean, if you personally want to advertise your own individual achievement/event/product etc. I use this regularly on both Twitter and Facebook for the blog posts I write on here or if I want to boast about something I have succeeded in. And I would say that, although it's a close call, Twitter is marginally better for this, depending on what your aim is. If you wanted to advertise specifically to your friends, then Facebook would probably win, but for a far greater reaching audience Twitter is the winner in this category. Plus, you have the slight possibility that you might somehow attract a celebrity's attention who might retweet whatever your advertising and give you infinitely more coverage from those fans.
Winner: (just) Twitter

Round 7: Lack of annoying adverts
The adverts on Facebook drive me mental. I am always clicking on them by accident and they slow the whole site down, although this clearly how it has made all its money. The lack of them (apart from a small amount of promotions through tweets themselves) makes Twitter the winner hands down.
Winner: Twitter

Round 8: Personalised
And this is where Facebook comes into its own. You have your own profile which you then fill with exactly what you want...the friends you want to contact, pictures/videos, events, your likes and dislikes and whatever comes into your head. On Twitter, you just have your profile pictures plus a tiny space where you can write a sentence about yourself. Needless to say, Facebook wins this one without any competition.
Winner: Facebook

Round 9: Features
Twitter has one purpose and that is to micro-blog your personal thoughts or pictures. Whereas on Facebook you can do so much more - contact your friends (through either instant messaging, normal messaging or publicly on their wall), share your pictures, where you have been, what you have been doing, play games, follow what celebrities are up to by liking their pages, or follow new items and special offers in shops through liking their pages. The majority use it for communication but the whole package is infinitely huger than Twitter. But then, I suppose, it's deliberate.
Winner: Facebook

Round 10: Catering for everyone
Twitter is open to all which makes it slightly more open than Facebook but most people ignore the age restriction on it anyway. There is also a lot less of the cyber bullying on Twitter, because it encourages people to say exactly what they think with less judgement from other people. However, because it has so many more facilities that ultimately appeal to a greater number of people, I would say that Facebook has to win this section because it is more inclusive of everyone's interests.
Winner: (just) Facebook

Overall Winner: Twitter 6-5
Somehow my verdict doesn't really shock me. Twitter, although, more specific in its purpose, is generally a better website than Facebook which annoys most people. But no one will stop using it because it is a hugely useful site if it is used in the right way, despite its faults. When I told one of my friends I was doing this debate, she said I should think of it as which wouldn't I be able to give up? But the answer is, I could live without both of them. Yes, I enjoy using them and, like most in my generation, am slightly addicted to each but I don't feel like I would be unable to live without them. They are just a useful asset. And anyone who isn't able to, needs to go out and have a breath of fresh air for a while.

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Monday, 27 August 2012

Are social media websites destroying actual communications?

As a young (ish) person living in the 21st century I, along with the rest of my generation, own a Facebook which I use regularly (along with a Twitter, Tumblr and now a Blogspot). These days it is pretty odd for someone not to have one and, although once there was an age restriction of 13, I am not sure that this is still the case. And even if it is, it is so easy to lie about it, that huge amounts of primary school children are using the facility.

Since its invention in 2004, Facebook became hugely popular almost immediately and now boasts close to a billion users. And it is still going from strength to strength. So much so, that none of the other social networking sites have even come close to its popularity. But even though it has 'social' in its name, what is it actually doing to our society? Is it enhancing our abilities to communicate with each other or is it actually destroying them.

There are a lot of amazing services that Facebook can offer such as the ability to communicate to a large number of people easily and the extra form of contacting your friends if you can't do it any other way. It is an excellent way to keep in touch with older friends, see what people are up to and to share your thoughts/pictures/music with people who you consider close. And now it is even quite good for you as a way to record the different events of your life and all the pictures that go with it, through the invention of Timeline. If that's what you want to do.

However, despite these useful features, the majority of Facebook is timewasting and slightly inane. Recently there has been a huge surge in the number of apps and other features that have been integrated into the site. Whether this is to do with music or pictures or games (such as farmville, and cityville and loads of other types of -ville) it means young people are spending even more time on the internet. Time that they could use to actually go out and see their friends. On top of that, it can also be seen as dangerous, with na├»ve young teenagers adding people they don't know in an effort to have more 'friends' and to look more popular. And these randomers then have access to a lot of personal information which is why it there is an age restriction of over-thirteens only. But as I said earlier, it is no trouble to lie to get around this.

With Facebook becoming ever more available all day long on smart phones, it is unlikely that it's popularity will ever fade. Unless it starts charging like it keeps on threatening to do so. So go on and enjoy it...just don't let it take over your life. And now, I am going to go and post a link for this article on Facebook and Twitter...how ironic.

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Top 10 things to do in Fresher's Week

For many, university can be hugely overwhelming with you rushing all over the place in that first week, trying to get everything sorted out, while at the same time, trying to appear normal to the complete strangers that you now have to live with. So, here (in reverse order) is a 10 step guide to a perfect freshers week. Follow these simple steps and you will be the king of university. Maybe.

Number 10: Set a budget and stick to it
Sorry to be boring but at least I am getting it out of the way. This has to be done. During that first week, once your student loan has come in and your accommodation is paid, see how much money you have left, divide it by the 10 weeks of term (or 14 if you can't borrow off the parents during the Christmas holidays) and then stick to that number as much as you can. Otherwise, by the end of the term, you will be living off toast!

Number 9: Locate the laundry room
My other boring rule but please do this too. No one will like you if you smell. You might not need it straight away but finding it is always useful for future reference. And then use it.

Number 8: Find a job
My final boring rule...if you're going to do it, do it now before everyone else realises they are going to run out of money soon and gets the same idea. Weekend jobs are absolutely perfect to keep a little bit of income coming in, but at the same time, still allowing you lots of free time to enjoy university life. Even better is if you find one on campus in the shop or the union for example, which is a great way to meet other students.

Number 7: Get a feel for your campus
Do this during fresher's week before lectures actually start. It is a pain if you wake up 10 minutes before a 9am then find its a mile away on the other side of campus. Just wander round, get lost a bit and visit all the buildings you wouldn't normally go into. Nobody asks any questions during fresher's (unless you walk into a staff only bit - that was embarrassing)

Number 6: Move rooms if necessary
Obviously this only applies if you don't like the people you are put with. But if this is the case do it sooner rather than later, because it is quite unlikely that these people who you have nothing in common with, 'will grow on you.' Save yourself the hassle of trekking over to your actual friends' halls and move.

Number 5: Buy an NUS card
Most universities offer these now - buy one. It is only £12 and the return is huge through the number of discounts that they offer. On top of this, most student nights at clubs now demand this as an extra ID if you want to get into it.

Number 4: Go to collect your campus card in the afternoon NOT the morning
I don't know if this is the same for every university, but when we at Reading went to collect our campus cards, they had to fill in our details, take our pictures and actually make the cards there and then in front of us. I made the mistake of going to do this early in the morning, resulting in a hideously hungover photo that is stuck not only on my campus card for the next four years but on my file as well. Learn from my mistakes. And then, once you have it, don't lose it. It's a pain trying to desperately claw your way into the building.

Number 3: Be yourself
Or to put it another way, don't try to be someone your not. You won't be able to keep it up and it's absolutely exhausting. Just relax, smile and be friendly and you will be absolutely fine. People are a lot more forgiving of weirdness at university than at school, take it from me. They appreciate the honesty =]

Number 2: Only drink if you want to
and if you can handle it...however much you want to 'fit in' no one appreciates cleaning up someone else's vomit, especially if you have only just met them. So if you are a bit of a lightweight, just say so, laugh/joke about it and then everyone moves on. Nobody cares.

Number 1: Join societies
I can not stress this enough. I didn't do this in my first year but did in my second and hugely regret that I hadn't beforehand. For subject societies, it is perfect to get to know older years on your course and a great way to meet loads of new people, who you clearly have something in common with as you must share a similar interest to join that particular society. They are social and have plenty of nights out to meet people in a drunk setting where you don't mind turning up alone. If you ignore everything else in this post, follow this rule! And then you will have a fab time :D

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Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Is university just an expensive alternative to a job?

With many 18 year olds, receiving their results just around the corner, some of them will be preparing for the biggest adventure of their lives. Notice how I say 'some' and not 'all' or even 'the majority' as I could have said in previous years. This year sees a considerably lower amount of teenagers taking the plunge. The reason…that the adults who received free university education now demands £9000 a year from us. So…is it worth it?
The automatic answer would be – no! In my experience, the teaching from the lecturers doesn’t come anywhere close to being worth the £9000 fee but even if it was a lot better, nothing could quite live up to that outrageous amount of money. Even if you are on a vocational course, such as teaching, medicine, dentistry, law or journalism, the benefits of university can be limited, even though I(f you would actually like a job in any of those fields), you HAVE to go to university. As a trainee teacher, I find my lectures a little uninspiring to say the least and the only useful part of the course is the experience.
But the overall experience is the one aspect of university that puts it a cut above school, college or anything else. University has never just been about the academic side of life, otherwise we would all be sitting in our parents’ houses, learning what we need to know from Open University. So, taking into account everything else, I would say a huge YES, university is so so worth it.
First and foremost, it forces you to look after yourself, so that you do all your own cooking, cleaning and washing, giving you a defined sense of independence that many teenagers have not yet experienced. But, perhaps more importantly than that, are all the numerous social opportunities of learning to live with people, learning to walk into a room of strangers and instantly make friends and being involved with the plentiful societies that every university has. If there is one tip I can give to anyone starting in the next month or so, is to join a society. It is such a great way to find people who you know you will get on with, because you all have a similar interest in common.
Therefore, my advice is if you have the chance, definitely go to university.  And while you’re there, embrace every situation and opportunity thrown your way. Join societies, make friends, learn to live and most importantly, have fun while you can. Before you spend the rest of your working life repaying the debt.
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Monday, 13 August 2012

How to be British....a guide for those who are not

In my previous post, I offered a mere glimpse of the different ways you can act, that will enable you to slip right into the middle of society as the average citizen of Great Britain. So here I am, elaborating on this point. Follow these very simple rules and you will fit right in, whatever you look like. That's the joy of living within a united kingdom.

1. Drink tea
And lots of it. You must always always keep your house well stocked, whether you like it or not (although if you don't like it, pretend you do as you aren't seen as truly British, unless you are drinking it) as it is actually an arrestable offence to not have any on offer to guests. It will always be there for you...to offer you comfort if you are cold, stressed, upset or angry. Or just add to your happiness if you are meeting a friend or want to enjoy a good book.
There is one type of tea and one type only that is acceptable and that is your normal breakfast tea. None of this green or herbal rubbish that smells so good but is disappointing in taste. With breakfast tea you know exactly what you have got.
Also remember you must offer a variety of containers to the people you are providing with tea. For example, you will need a thermos flask for journeys, teacups for hot days and posh company, mugs for cold days, close friends and stressful moments....etc etc

2. Complain about the weather
Whether this is a comment to your friend/family member or a random stranger, it doesn't matter - no rules apply. You can complain about whatever you like - whether its raining, sunny, windy, snowing...although, lets be honest, it's mostly going to be about the rain, isn't it?

3. Learn to tut
This simple little noise can convey so much disgust and hatred and coupled with a hard stare can reduce your recipient to the size of a small ant.

4. Complain about the prices of everything
Inflation has been on the rise for the past few years which hasn't affected the average Brit that much but we have noticed it when we have had to pay for things (be this chocolate or the electricity bill or whatever...). As I work in a shop, I am on the receiving end of this particular British trait on a daily basis. I think people believe that if they have enough of a go at the cashier, she will cry, pass on the criticisms to the manager who will then change the prices. But it doesn't work and the complaints only go as far as the crying assistant and she can't do anything about it. So leave her alone.
Letter writing is a very effective way of complaining and one which the British enjoys quite a lot. The art of a well written complaint letter needs to be well practiced and, if done right, can result in Britain's second most favourite thing, free stuff!.

5. Blame the Americans...
...for pretty much anything that goes wrong. Whether it is the economy or the TV shows that are supposedly encouraging obesity in our teens, it is definitely not our fault. Definitely not.

6. Ignore everyone around you as much as possible
The British have a bit of a habit of looking down on almost everyone who are around them. Therefore do not expect them to move out of your way on the pavement or chat to you while they sit on the tube or the bus. If you do manage to strike up a conversation, the safest bet is to comment on the rubbish weather - our love of complaining overrides everything else.

7. Enjoy all royal events
If you want a republic go to America...we love the queen - well, most of us do. That is all.

8. Love to queue
And if you don't love it, learn to love it. Because you will be doing a lot of it. Also, it's very important to learn the art of slyly managing to push in without anyone noticing. Although be careful, if not executed properly this could end in a punch up.

9. Learn sarcasm and irony
Even if you can't say any yourself, you do need to learn to understand it. Otherwise you will not find us funny at all.

10. And finally...drive a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer then, on the way home grab an Indian curry, eating it on Swedish furniture watching American shows on a Japanese tv. And, of course, always be suspicious of anything foreign.

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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Is the Olympics making us less British?

In the age where TV is king, I go against the grain by not really enjoying it that much. Sure, there are several series which I am addicted to and can not bare to miss an episode of but I very rarely sit down and flick through the channels to finally settle on a timewasting mundane programme that actually started about 20 minutes ago. (That is, unless I have something more important that I should be doing such as an imminent university essay to complete and then, of course, I do absolutely ANYTHING to distract myself. And films are another issue entirely...).

The thing which scares me most about TV is the huge amount of influence that it has over children and teenagers. Especially when you think about the celebrities and fictional characters that they are seeing on a daily basis, and therefore using as role models. People such as Jordan and the vile individuals who are dragged from the depths of society and plonked onto daytime television via Jeremy Kyle, for instance. All in all, people who are not exactly the best mentors for impressionable young people.

But, happily, my opinion is starting to change as of this summer, thanks to...the Olympics. Not only does it bring together our nation in a way that we don't see very often (except during royal events and when we are complaining about the weather) but suddenly there are people on the television who teenagers can safely aspire to be, that won't lead to drink or drug problems at a later date. The athletes that we are now frequently seeing on our screens such as Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy and Tom Daley actually promote admirable achievements that are very attainable if you work hard, practice and exercise - shock horror.

The nation as a whole has embraced the Olympics in such a way that has made GB almost unrecognisable. Suddenly we are no long complaining about the weather, pushing in front of each other in queues and tutting about the general state of our country. Instead we are proud of it. For the first time in years. We joyfully boast about the number of medals we have achieved, causing athletes to actually apologise if they don't win one. Since when did this happen? We are normally so accustomed to losing. Yet here we are, sitting reasonably comfortably at number 3 of the medals table behind America and China. And, of course, if you take the medal to population ratio, we are by far and away and the best. A very unusual accomplishment that we are not used to celebrating. Maybe our national identity can now begin to change as well.

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Monday, 6 August 2012


Howdy. Bonjour. Guten Tag. Ciao.

Yay getting a bit of use out of the brand new translator app which I downloaded today on my brand new IPhone...yes...IPhone. I am one of those cool people.

Anyway, I digress. I am Charlotte, I am 20 years old and have just finished my second year studying Primary Education and English at Reading University. And yes, I do want to be a teacher, a primary one. It is remarkable the number of times I get asked that. You would think it is pretty obvious considering that's what the degree title says.

Ideally though I have much bigger and more exciting plans for my life. Not that I want to diminish the teacher lifestyle in any way, I just don't think it's very me. Much as I love being in the classroom and working with the children, I hate all the other rubbish that goes with it...all the planning and target attainments and box ticking that the government requires. And, as the number of teachers who are getting smacked in the face with a chair are on the rise, I thought I would maybe think about a different career while my nose was still intact. Plus, I am far too lazy...I tend to cry if I have to get up before 10am, let alone being in school by 8am as I have had to do on my placements so far. Which meant that I had to get up at 7am at the latest. I was not a happy bunny. In fact, I think I did cry.

So, I have been thinking of a career that is a bit more me. And I came up with... writing. Now, this is definitely more up my street. Firstly, I don't have to get out of bed if I don't want to. Secondly, I don't have to perform every day in front of 30+ people. Thirdly, if I am ill (which I seem to be ALL THE TIME!!!) I can still go to work as I can do it bed and I can still write. Fourthly, you can earn a lot more money. Sometimes. Fifthly, I enjoy it more...and I think that is as many reasons that I could think of. But that's enough. And I am absolutely determined to make it happen! I know how hard it is but that makes me even more determined to succeed. And my first novel is on the way =] so you had all better watch out, I am going to be famous one day.

Don't really know what else to say now...dammit. And this blog post was going so well. I suppose I could talk about what I am going to do with this blog but to be honest I don't really know yet. I thought about it briefly and I figured I had the following options. I could either talk about:

1. My writing and how that is going and put some poems/creative pieces on here
2. My life in general and what's going on in it.
3. Reviews of books/films/theatre....I do quite a bit of that especially during term time when I write them for the university newspaper, Spark*
4. The general trials and tribulations of university students and university issues.
5. A very simplistic review/opinion of big events going on in the world.

To be honest, I will probably do a bit of all of that! So you will just have to wait and see :D And on that tantalising note, I will leave it there. Come back in a few days and I will try to think of something actually interesting to put here.

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