10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Web of Links: Week 10

After a length five month hiatus including exams, travelling and restarting uni Web of Links is finally making a comeback. It'ss my weekly round-up of the most entertaining, curious, controversial and interesting things I've come across this week.






1. The Obituaries Writer - The Independent had a really interesting piece this week on the life of an obituary writer, the people who right about people's lives in a reminiscing manner before they actually die. It's an interesting insight.

2. Ten ways you know you're a Disney Cast Member - Having just completed my Disney College Program at Disney World a few months ago these are all still very pertinent to me.

3. Pennies for school - One girl called Ana has been accepted into her dream school and is asking everyone to send her just one penny in the post to help pay for the costs of tuition in the US. An interesting idea.

4. "Under Mickey" Disney/Star Wars Parody - This year Knotts Berry Farm's Halloween show put together a musical tribute to the greed that it says Disney has for buying Star Wars.

5. Meet the real Siri and other iconic voices of technology - A BBC online special on the voices that make up the world around us.
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JVC HAFX1X Xtreme Xplosives In Ear Canal Headphones / Earphones Review

Following the popularity of my previous review of the Sennheiser CX 300-II earphones, this week I'm reviewing another pair of "value" headphones - the JVC HAFX1X earphones. I'll admit I'm not a huge expert on reviewing earphones but I certainly know what sounds good, as well as whether they are worth the price.


Packaging:
There's no denying that JVC have done a good job packaging these headphones to look good on a shop shelf - the disadvantage of this tight packaging is that the material it is made from is very hard to get into and will take you a while, so be prepared to fight with the packaging to get to the earphones themselves.

Once you do get through the packaging you'll notice the earphones come with a carry case with big "XX" branding, as well as several sized earbuds for the perfect fit.

Design:
Despite what JVC may say the design of these earphones has clearly been inspired by the renowned Dr. Dre Beats with the red wire, as well as the black earphones themselves.

The earphones themselves are rather big and bulky, especially when in your pocket. Once in your ears they do protrude more than most earphones so that is something to consider if you like discreet looking earphones.

Sound:
Perhaps the most important thing about headphones is, of course, the sound. These headphones have an incredible bass and can be very loud without any distortion which is great. Technically speaking, the 10mm driver inside these delivers exceptional quality sound for something in this price range. Finally, if you want good noise isolation you'll find this here.

Durability
One of the concerns with budget earphones is that they often do not last very long and tend to become damaged - either the speaker falls off or the wires snap off or something else goes wrong. These earphones were much better than many; they lasted for over a year of daily wear and tear - they may have lasted longer but I wouldn't be able to say as I ended up losing them.

Pricing
These are the best value earphones available on the market for under £30 in my opinion, having surpassed the Sennheiser's I previously reviewed. They are an absolute bargain at the RRP of £25 but they can be found for even less only - sometimes as low as £10 or £15. Snap them up!

Buy the JVC HAFX1X Xtreme Xplosives In Ear Canal Headphones on Amazon.
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Best Moments of Summer 2013 (and being a Cast Member)

My time in the US this summer was filled with delights and life-changing experiences; today I want to shed a light on the moments that I remember as being the best this summer - those that will stick with me.

If you want to read more about any of these moments then you can click through to that particular blog post.


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Web of Links: Week 9

After a length five month hiatus including exams, travelling and restarting uni Web of Links is finally making a comeback. It'ss my weekly round-up of the most entertaining, curious, controversial and interesting things I've come across this week.

1. 10 Things That Brits Don’t Realize Are Offensive to Americans - An eye opening look at how different the two cultures really are.

2. 10 Things That Americans Don’t Realize are Offensive to Brits - The same thing as above but reversed. Absolutely hilarious but so, so true.

3. AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Will Transport, Transform Guests - After initially being hugely skeptical, Disney's revelation of what the new Avatar area in Animal Kingdom will look like blew me away.

4. Eurostar confirms launch of London – Amsterdam services in December 2016 - Great news for Londoners looking to go even further by train, the best way of travelling.

5. Runaway Jane - A great example of what a niche blogger can do. Jane runs her own travel blog full time! The blog targets backpackers and low cost travel particularly for young people. She gets to travel the world, write about it and make a living from it: living the dream really. And with 26,000 monthly page-views she's doing pretty well for herself.

6. Expedition Everest: An Imagineer-led tour - This just goes to show the incredible level of detail that goes into building attractions at Disney. The video is over 30 minutes long.
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20 things that should be in iOS 8


Although iOS has matured over the years with features being added every time a new version is released, there’s always more that can be done. As other operating systems such as Windows Phone and Android expand their feature set it would be unwise for Apple to be content and not expand its feature-set. iOS, released last month, brought with it dozens of new features as well as a re-designed (undoubtedly Windows Phone Inspired) interface.

Looking ahead there is still room for improvement so here are my most requested features for iOS8.
  1. Text pop ups - Replying to texts should be done as a popup on top of the app you’re currently using - you shouldn’t have to switch apps to do it.
  2. Natural calendar speak - Instead of having to enter an event title, date, and a start and end time it’d be great it you could just type in “lunch with mum tomorrow at 2” and the event would be added to your calendar - kind of how “Fantastical” works for the iPhone.
  3. Close all apps - Instead of flicking open apps off the screen in multitasking view, how about a button that would just close all of them at once.
  4. Google Now - There is some attempt at this in iOS7 where apparently, though I’ve not noticed this, the maps app will predict your next journey. How about integrating Google’s solution to this, Google Now?
  5. More configurable Timer - Sometimes you have to time something that takes 1m30 and you want a countdown. You can’t do that with an iPhone as countdowns are only done in minute increments meaning you’ll either have to select 1 minute or 2 minutes.
  6. Multitask by splitting the iPad's screen - It’s not very Apple but it’d be great to be able to split your screen in two - you could have pages on one side and safari on the other and be able to multitask. Or watch TV whilst browsing the web all on one device/
  7. Public transport in Maps app - Apple still hasn’t mastered this yet with no public transit info meaning Google Maps is still your best bet.
  8. Auto turn off wifi - Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave your house and as your phone disconnects from the wifi if it could just turn wifi off altogether saving on battery life. Geofencing doesn’t seem to be the solution in my opinion as it drains battery life a lot.
  9. Hide native apps - I don’t use the native stock app, or the contacts app so why can’t I hide them from view?
  10. Auto deleting alarms - I’m not a fan of opening my clock app and seeing I have 35 alarms in total - how about an option for an alarm to delete itself after one use?
  11. Swype Keyboard - The iPhone keyboard is great but Swype is out this world.
  12. Guest mode - It’d be great to be able to hand your iPhone or iPad over to a friend or customer and they just see what you want them too - this mode could hide apps, photos, music, browsing history, bookmarks etc. It could also wipe all the guest’s data after use.
  13. Ability to share screens over FaceTime - This would be even better on a mac but great on a phone too.
  14. iMessage toggle - How about Apple lets me decide whether I want my message sent as a text instead of an iMessage instead of having multiple threads.
  15. Ability to leave a group iMessage conversation
  16. Siri app integration - Let non native apps integrate into Siri so I could ask “When’s the next bus?” and have it tell or show me.
  17. Multi-way Facetime - You should be able to Facebook 3 people instead of just the one if you wanted.
  18. Play videos in the background - Sometimes the audio will suffice so let us do other things whilst we have a video playing. This did used to be a feature in previous iOS versions.
  19. Set your own default app - I don’t want to use Apple Maps, I want Google Maps so it’d be great if that were possible. The same applies to calendar and browser apps too.
  20. Better battery life - I know this is generic but Apple writes the software and makes the hardware. It can do a much better job than it currently does with battery life.
That’s the end of my iOS8 wish-list; some of the requests I’ve mentioned can be accomplished with other apps but it’d be great to have them as a native part of the OS all integrated together.

I’d also like to credit some of these ideas to this webpage.

Got any more ideas for what should be in the next version of iOS? Let me know in the comments below.
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8 Free Things to do in Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is no doubt an expensive place to visit - once you've factored in the price of getting there, staying in a hotel, park tickets, food and merchandise it will more than likely be a trip that will be in the thousands of dollars in terms of cost. Once you've paid for the basics there are many more experiences that Disney offers to enhance your visit - whether it's dinner in the castle with princesses, championship golfing or spa treatments, these are all extra experiences that come at a premium price.

However, there's no need to feel pressured into paying for these extra experiences - there are so many free things you can do that will enhance your trip without spending a single cent. All the items in the list are accessible to everyone - there is no cost at all as they are all located outside the theme parks.

1. Visit the resort hotels
This was one idea that I initially discounted - why would you want to visit a resort? How will that add to your vacation? Trust me it will - if you love the theming in the parks then you absolutely must visit the different resort hotels. From the relaxing beach at the Polynesian resort, to the forest-feel of the Wilderness lodge to the romanticism of Port Orleans, there is something for absolutely everyone.

All Star Music - one of the value resorts which still provides great theming!
You don't need to be staying at the resorts to visit them and I cannot recommend this enough. It really is possible to spend three or four days visiting and exploring the 24 on-site Disney resort hotels.

2. Watch a movie under the stars
Photo: Disney

Almost all the Disney resorts offer nightly screenings of a Disney movie under the stars on a big screen. Chill out in one of the sun loungers sipping a cocktail whilst

3. Visit Disney's Boardwalk

Be inspired in this great seaside-themed resort boardwalk area. Although there's not a huge amount to do here that's free you can often enjoy live entertainment such as jugglers. Otherwise you can explore the attached hotel or grab a bite to eat in one of the many eating establishments. Think of it as a mini Downtown Disney area but with more character.

4. Enjoy the free transportation
Buses aren't the most enjoyable way of getting around but there are other ways to get between resorts of theme parks which are much more relaxing.

The monorail is a great way to get a high-up view of Disney World's Magic Kingdom and EPCOT areas. The ferryboat from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom also offers some great views. The hidden gem however is the boat launches which are available between resorts and theme parks. The boat ride between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios lasts about 25 minutes as you sail past some equisit resort hotels.

However, if you want a real luxury feel that will make you completely forget about the fact your in the world's most visited tourist destination then you have to take the boat launches from the Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness - it is a great, quaint, relaxing trip where all you see around you is trees and the lake. Then take the boat launch to the contemporary and finally onto the magical Kingdom

5. Sing around a campfire
Photo: Disney

This is an example of some great free entertainment at Disney World. Every evening throughout the year you're able to join Chip n Dale in a sing along session around a camp fire at the Fort Wilderness Resort. There are marshmallows available for purchase to roast on the fire. The event usually runs at 8PM most of the year but you can check the current timetable here. This is also one of the only ways to get a free character meet and greet at Disney World outside the theme parks!

6. Watch a free parade
Every evening a nighttime Electrical Water Pageant parade makes its way around the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom. There are no characters involved and it is a very simple flotilla but it's worth seeing at least once. Plus in between the floats you can relax on the beach of any of the resort hotels around the lake!



AllEars.net provides the following information on the timetabling of this bit of free entertainment:
  • Polynesian Resort -- 9 p.m.
  • Grand Floridian -- 9:15 p.m.
  • Wilderness Lodge -- 9:35 p.m.
  • Fort Wilderness -- 9:45 p.m.
  • Contemporary Resort -- 10:05 p.m.
  • Magic Kingdom -- 10:20 p.m. (only during extended MK park
  • hours)
Note that when the Magic Kingdom Fireworks are scheduled for 9 p.m., the Electrical Water Pageant runs about 7-20 minutes later.
And after the parade you could stick around and enjoy the next tip on this list.

7. Wishes from the Polynesian Beach
If you want one of the best views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks 'Wishes' then I've got you covered. Nothing can match standing in front of the castle and feeling the awe of seeing the nightly fireworks explode before your eyes but for a different - and I'd say equally stunning - view you need to make your way to the Polynesian beach.

Wishes from the Poly Beach
Photo: DisneyDining.com


You should be able to see the Celebrate the Magic show from a distance at 9:45PM and then at 10PM enjoy Wishes and they even play music out of speakers when the fireworks begin (Note: times may change seasonally). We recommend you sit further back the beach as the speakers are only at the back walkway area and not on the beach itself. Sometimes you might get lucky and be able to grab a sun-lounger. If you do get there early you might be able to grab a hammock though you won't be able to hear the music from their location.

If you have time I highly recommend you go and grab a 'Mickey Mousse' or 'Minnie Mousse' dessert from the hotels's quick service dining location - a lovely treat to enjoy during the fireworks!

Aim to be there at least 30 minutes before the fireworks are due to begin as this is fast becoming a well-known secret.

8. Do a free Disney World tour
Disney World offers many tours of the parks from the Wild Africa Trek to the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. These can sometimes cost in excess of $200 per person. Disney does also run free tours of the unique aspects of some of the resort hotels - granted they are much shorter but they are an enlightening way to learn about the craftsmanship that goes into creating these settings at no cost. You do not need to be staying at the resorts to take advantage of these tours.

The Animal Kingdom Villas runs the African-Inspired, Disney-Designed Tour where you can learn about the authentic theming of the resort. It lasts about 20 minutes and usually departs at 4:30pm every day from the sign outside the gift shop at the Kidani Village lobby - reservations are not accepted, simply show up on time for the tour. You can call (407) 938-3000 to confirm this tour's schedule.

The Sanaa Cultural Tour explores the Sanaa restaurant in detail. It currently runs at 4:00pm daily - check in at the podium of the Sanaa restaurant. No reservations are accepted. It lasts about 20 minutes. There's no guarantees but sometimes this tour ends with a tasty treat too! You can call (407) 938-3000 to confirm this tour's schedule.

The Wonders of the Wilderness Lodge Tour is something I am going to have to do when I go back as it sounds absolutely fantastic. It is a one hour tour explaining the backstory and design of the Wilderness Lodge Resort. The tour runs on Wednesdays through Saturdays at 9am - ask at the lobby concierge for the exact meeting location. Reservations are not accepted. You can call (407) 824-3200 to confirm this tour's schedule.

The Culinary Tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge is a culinary tour of both the Boma and Jiko restaurants lasting about 30 minutes in length. What's more you get to sample some of the delights from these dining locations at no cost. The tour runs daily at 4pm - no reservations are requires. The tour starts from the Boma podium. You can call (407) 938-3000 to confirm this tour's schedule.
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