Jameel Jamal: Facebook.sch.uk – fantastic or flawed?

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Illustration by Jameel Jamal

There simply aren’t enough non-conformist, strong minded people in today’s society who could deny or tear down the growing might of Facebook. Not long ago, emails and letters were the most common form of communication and now it’s questionably developed into inboxing and posting on people’s walls, something we seem to have found more favourable. So why is it that when most school teachers are part of the Facebook hype, this social network is banned for use in schools, leading to frustrated students all over the country? Ever since this topic arose, scores of head teachers have hidden behind the bush of “it will distract the students and provoke cyber bullying”. Debatable.

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Bizhan Govindji: Siri who?

3 million people in the UK pre-ordered the iPhone 4S (that’s 5% of the population, by the way) and were eagerly awaiting a soft thud as it landed on their doormats this morning. The feature that’s quite literally got everybody talking isn’t the highly improved camera, or the potentially revolutionary iCloud; it’s Siri, your new virtual assistant. (If you haven’t heard of Siri, you’ll want to say goodbye to that rock you’ve been living under and watch the advert here). But Voice Recognition on mobile phones is hardly something new. In fact my first ever phone – the now-ancient Nokia 3310 –  came equipped with voice-activated dialling.

So why all the fuss about Siri, and what are the alternatives for non-iPhone users? (more…)

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Martin Orton on: London Materialympics 2011

People were forced to leap from the upstairs windows of a burning building in Croydon last night as rioting spread across London and beyond. (Image: The Telegraph)

Everyone this morning is asking the same question, why? How can our young people do this to us? Where is the political agenda? Oh please…we’re focusing on mindless thuggish behaviour: the result, not the cause. It’s a tiresome perspective – as if we, the society that is responsible for raising them, are blameless.
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There’s an app for that

Angry Birds. (Image: www.rovio.com)

Apps are the craze that won’t go out of fashion. Smartphones are becoming increasingly common in the mobile market, and one of their big selling points are the apps they offer. These apps can be entertaining time-killers (catapulting birds at wooden structures to reclaim eggs from evil pigs is more addictive than it sounds), but they’re useful too, and span genres such as business, productivity, news, music and many more.

The number of people using apps is ever-growing, to the point where ideas that were initially meant for simple apps, have become unimaginably popular, and are now spreading into other forms of media – the Angry Birds film being a key example.
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Bizhan Govindji on: e-Read all about it!

Amazon's Kindle 3. Picture: Amazon.com

When I was younger, new books would feature heavily on my Amazon wish list. I would read novels on the train, before I went to bed, or if I was simply bored. For me, (here come the clichés) a good book allowed me to immerse myself totally in the story, escape from this world and dive into new ones where Harvard professors run around the Vatican trying to stop terrorist explosions, schoolchildren are taught magic to defend themselves against dark wizards, and Afghani kite-fliers have their lives ripped apart by the Taliban.

Today however, the variety of entertainment that young people have access to has expanded beyond imagination. The evolution of television, gaming, and the Internet captured the interest of youth, and on the whole, books are forgotten, gathering dust in a spare room.

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Martin Orton: Brand Looters

Three quarters of the young people convicted of looting London in August had previous convictions, many of petty crime and theft. The others? Perhaps bystanders seeking an opportunity too good to miss. Who can forget the family of looters? But what affliction do they all share? How did they suddenly transform themselves from the passive aggrieved and excluded into a proactive, well-organised army of rampant materialists?

I’m going to point the finger at a new culprit in this landscape of social inequality; a cause of the looting, one that has a solution and that will definitely surprise some people: Brands.
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