Here are some photos from my recent trip to Liverpool.
The Albert dock, restored as a tourist attraction in the 80s.
The albert dock is on the bank of the mersey.
Boat trip around the dock.
Construction work in Liverpool with (what I think) is the Royal Liver building in the background.
Liverpool Cathedral in the distance.
The Liverpool One shopping center.
The address reads: Everton Two, Liverpool One
It's been over a year since my last trip abroad to Hong Kong and this time we decided to fly West to America! I was at school when I last went to the USA with my family and I was keen to go back to where we started that holiday - Los Angeles. I would love to say that it was the glitz and glamor that attracted me back however it was simply cheap flights and accommodation.
The flight over was rough. Only joking - this is a set from War of the World at Universal Studios.
After a good night sleep and recovering from the flight we headed to pick up the car. We didn't know what car to expect and joked about getting something smug such as a Toyota Prius - this is what we were given. I hadn't driven an automatic car before let alone on the other side of the road however it was easy to pick up and begs the question as to why we don't all have automatic cars in the UK!
We headed straight to Hollywood, a 40min drive from LAX along roads twice as wide as what we are used to in the UK.
The Hollywood sign!
The Griffith Observatory is a great museum dedicated to space. I loved how you could weigh yourself on each planet however everything was in Imperial measurements which drove me crazy!
Amazing views over LA - I'm not sure if the haze is the weather or just smog (perhaps smug from all the hybrids).
We headed back into Hollywood to see the Kodak Theater and walk of the stars.
On the second day we decided to visit one of LA's many theme parks, we were too old for Disney so visited Universal Studios.(When I say we are too old for Disney I mean it was a rip off to get in).
The park wasn't too busy so we managed to ride Jurassic Park about five times - I love water rides.
The studio tour took us down Wysteria Lane from Desperate Housewives - was well worth doing.
On the third day we drove to Santa Monica to go shopping.
There is not a great deal to Photograph in Santa Monica - so here is a sign with a red light and a taxi.
We went to see the new Star Trek film whilst here - it was awesome. Its a shame that in the UK people don't scream, cheer and clap to films, makes the whole experience more exciting.
We loved Universal Studios so much that we decided to go back again. Its clear from Universal Studios that everyone in the film industry loves everyone else, the directors love the cast, the cast love the crew who love the props people who love the wardrobe people. I'm glad we spent the second day here but it was enough ass licking for one holiday.
We sat in the 'soak' zone for the water world show thinking we would just get splashed - we were wrong. It was one of the best live shows I had seen.
I lost count how many times we rode Jurassic Park on the second day.
If Universal Studios is for film lovers, Disney for kids then Six Flags is for crazy people who love big rides. Some of the rides such as X2 were insane, fortunately there were plenty of water rides and almost no queues.
Count the Rollercoasters!
Day 6, 7, 8
Last time I came to the US I was too young to drink or gamble (I might have been able to buy a gun however) so we took a trip to Las Vegas. The five hour drive from LA went smoothly, especially with the cruise control set along the straight highways.
We stayed in the same hotel that I did when I came last time - Circus Circus, mainly because the rooms were only £16 per night!
Since I'd been driving so much for the rest of the holiday I'd not had a drink since the plane. You have to be 21 to drink in most parts of the US - it would suck to be a student there!
Only in Vegas would they build the Eiffel Tower!
Vegas is such as great place for photography - and erm gambling!
The lake in front of the Bellagio
The Bellagio hotel/casino.
The water show in front of the Bellagio is quite impressive.
The ninth day consisted of two long flights home.
It was the next day before we landed back in Manchester.
I really enjoyed my stay in America and can't wait to go back again. Really want to visit the East coast or San Francisco.
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With all the negativity around Windows 8 I've not been in a rush to try it. Being a Mac user I already have a great OS and last week's upgrade to Mountain Lion again reaffirmed my allegiance to the Apple ecosystem.
Apple got a lot right with iOS, the security, the simplicity and the app ecosystem. We've seen a lot of these features ported back into OS X in Lion and Mountain Lion. Microsoft is going for a more radical approach of designing an almost brand new interface called Metro and making it the heart of Windows 8.
A lot of the criticism of Windows 8 revolves around Metro and how it's central to the OS, yet does so much differently from previous versions of Windows. We've seen hints of Metro in Windows Phone and in the Xbox interface which I've never liked - it's small annoyances like giving a four way input controller the option to go 6 ways.
Installation was very similar to Windows 7 and took around 20mins through Parallels.
Once rebooted you enter a few details and you're presented with the Metro desktop.
On the bottom left there is a link to the desktop, this takes you to a desktop that is very similar to Windows 7 but without a start menu. You can get back into Metro at any time via the windows key (cmd in Parallels).
Metro integrates with Facebook, Live Messenger, SkyDrive, Xbox Live and a number of other services. Feeds for News (below), Weather, Maps, Travel and Finance are automatically included by default.
Any additional programs you install that would normally appear in the Start Menu are added to the Metro Interface instead. All settings that were previously in control panel are integrated with Metro.
Metro is quick to use but takes a bit of adjusting to get use to, I like how you can easily get to it at any time through the Windows key. By rearranging icons within Metro you can quickly customise it to your work flow. As more developers integrate with Metro I imagine it will get stronger and stronger.
I will admit that I'm a fan of Metro, it's a refreshing change for Windows and coming from OS X it's good to see the simplicity that Windows often lacked shining through.
With Windows 7 and XP It was hard to argue the benefits, in the past ten years we've seen so many great new features in OS X, from time machine, dashboard, mission control, expose and spot light yet you couldn't really say the same for Windows. With Windows 8 Microsoft had to try something different and whilst some parts work well with other parts don't.
Back in 2001 when Apple released OS X there was uproar, OS X did things differently, in a lot of cases it did things worse than OS 9 and did a lot less. Many of the Apple faithful resisted the move for years, yet today could anyone argue that those hard decisions were not for the best?
Microsoft is at the same cross roads now, it knows it has to do something different to stay relevant and keep up with the competition, it has to make hard decisions that it knows will upset some of its core audience.
Yet hopefully what will come from it is a much smarter, simpler OS, it will take time and I imagine at least another Windows release but the changes Microsoft are making now will set them up for the next decade, to compete with the likes of Apple and Google.
We've already seen parts of the puzzle come into place with the launch of Outlook.com, Skydrive and Metro. It's a massive gamble and one that I hope works out for Microsoft.
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