Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: A Year in Retrospect

What an amazing year 2012 has been for me...

My family kicked off the year with a trip to Kuala Lumpur, just before I returned to the UK for the 2012 Spring Term. Then it's revision, Entered the trial phase with Pat. And to end the month, I started the Breakfast Show on 31 January 2012. Boom!

Song of the Month: M83 - Midnight City

February was probably the most insane month for me - a highlight, I dare say. Guild Election Week was a manic week for me as I helped out with the Outdoor Broadcasts and Debate Shows. And to top it all off, I had a surprise Birthday Party thrown at me. Good times!

Song of the Month: Avicii - Levels

March was when I got elected as Head of Production - one committee position that will shape the rest of 2012 for me. Speaking of Xpression, we had our Charity Football Match, in aid of Sport Relief. Raised £700+. Good times...

So April was the Easter break. Kicked the month off with the Student Radio Conference in Bradford, went to the Exeter Food Festival with Pat for some good food and music (Remember The Voice?), saw Charlie Simpson live. Oh, and revision.

Song of the Month: Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

Did I say revision? Well that's a lie. Because it's the opening of the Forum! Xpression kept me a bit busy, as usual, but it was worth it (see November). After that, things got pretty dull - Exams, things were on ice between Pat and myself. On the plus side, the Olympic Flame arrive in Exeter! Oh, and CIMA GBC Filming started, and we got through to the UK Finals!.

Song of the Month: Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know

Halt! Xmedia Awards! Not a great night in terms of awards I hoped to clinch, but great night nonetheless. Then there's the Annual Celebration of Volunteering - Event of the Year? Apparently, that's what the Guild thought of the Xpression Guild Election Coverage! Student Radio Chart Show from Xpression FM. Also, CIMA GBC UK Finals came and went. Held at the Milkround HQ (News International), rubbed shoulders with some interesting people, and our team won the award. #Winning

Song of the Month: Madeon - Finale

So, UK Finals sorted, now we set our sights on the CIMA GBC Global Finals. Tough, considering I was back in Indonesia, and I had to juggle the prep with editing entries for the Student Radio Awards (See November). Not the best of times, until Sri Lanka came and went. #WINNING #TRAVELLING #SriLankaIsAwesome Had a great time, met some great people, and to see a country that I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to explore. Fantastic...

Also, watched loads of Olympics on YouTube. #TeamGB #TeamIndonesia #TeamSingapore

Song of the Month: Muse - Survival

So, Post-Sri Lanka, I returned to Indonesia to enjoy my holidays. Oh, and editing station sound (See September). Family Vacation to the US East Coast was brilliant - from New York (Times Square, 5th Avenue, all the touristy stuff) to Toronto, then Pennsylvania and DC (saw the Magna Carta, US House of Representatives, all the touristy stuff), and then it's Singapore (Founder's Day, met up with a few of my best mates), then finally Jakarta. Oh, and then, back nice and early to Exeter.

Song of the Month: Coldplay - Paradise

New Station Sound at Xpression finally launched. Phew! In non-Xpression Radio news, I listened in to Chris Moyles' Last Show on Radio 1 - and actually wept, because it's one of those things that I sort-of got used to doing - waking up with Moyles, even back from my A Level days in Brighton, when Carrie Prideaux was Sports Bulletin Reader. T'was the end of an era. But start of a new one, too! Did I mention the start of the Mix & Mash Show? Also, I finally got my new laptop. Yep. Retina ftw. New Resolution? Mine's 2880x1800. Hunting for a Dissertation Supervisor - which eventually led me to Dr Petros Vourvachis.

Song of the Month: Swedish House Mafia - Don't You Worry Child

Football Varsity Coverage - gave up tickets to see Benjamin Francis Leftwich for this, but worth it? I guess so. We had issues at the start, when the stream from the OB PC sounded stuttery on the Studio PCs and on air. Had to run on to campus with an iPad and minijack-to-coax cable to save the show. And thank heavens that worked out alright.

Song of the Month: Of Monsters And Men - Little Talks

Roll on the Student Radio Awards. 2 nominations, which were converted to 2 awards on the night. #Boom. And the 24 Hour Broadcast. And SSB lineup announcement. And even though I had little to do with the Lad Culture Show (props should go to Hazel, Amelia, and the rest of the News Team), The Lad Culture Show was such a bangin' show.

Song of the Month: Anything involving Calvin Harris and Florence Welch together.

As the final month of the year rolled on, things slowed down. There was that horrible BEA3001 Financial Management Coursework test. There was the fantastic trip to Reading. Christmas meant another Christmas song from the Sports Team, Christmas Dinners aplenty, and me putting on a load of weight. No snow, though - only rain and floods. And in a totally insignificant kerfball, I celebrated my 2nd year with my iPhone 4 - the longest I've held on to the same phone. Bearing in mind this phone got dunked in sea water in Sri Lanka, and now the camera broke. So, to celebrate this fact, I ordered a new phone. Apart from that, the Christmas Break meant doing some overdue tasks - Masters Applications (Personal Statements, Forms, Reference hunting, GMAT), Dissertation Literature Review and data collection (a bit), editing to add onto the Station Sound, the new Xpression Website (Wordpress), revision.

Song of the Month: Anything Christmasy.

So, loads happened in 2012. What will 2013 be like?

Bring it on!

New Year's Post

So, as is tradition on this fine blog of mine, I post a review of my New Year's Resolution for the year that is about to close on our behinds, and a new one for the start of the new year.

So, let's begin, shall we? Starting with the review...

Review: My New Year's Resolution of 2012


I will finish my 2nd year with at least a 2:1 overall. [1st!]
I will NOT go back to Jakarta over Christmas, so I can focus on my January exams in 2013. [Didn't!]

I will get an Internship, and I will actually enjoy my internship &// find it useful and beneficial. [Didn't.]
I will actually help Robin with his Bubble Today website (have you heard of it? it's really good) [Pardon?]
I will brush up on any sort of code. HTML5/CSS/Objective-C, etc. Seriously, I will actually improve my knowledge of one/more of the above-mentioned computer/web design languages. [PHP, CSS, Javascript. The lot.]

I will be in a committee in my 3rd year and not regret it. [Xpression!]
I will submit 6 articles to Exeposé by December 2013. Surely not that difficult, right? [err...]
I will single-handedly work in a team to make Photosoc awesome. [Not sure about this one. Did I?]
I will learn to develop film.[Didn't. Unless Polaroid counts?]
I will get presenter-trained/tested and get my own radio show on Xpression. [Did a Breakfast, Morning After, Afternoon Sessions, and Specialist Slot (Mix & Mash Show). In short: I passed presenter training!]

I will go to a gig in 2012. [Charlie Simpson! Would have made it two with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, if it weren't for the football varsity.]
I will not chicken out like I did in 2010/2011, and I will actually get tickets to Glastonbury 2013. Failing that, I'd love to go to any of the major music festivals while I'm still in the UK. BBL, perhaps? [Radio 1 Starts The Summer in Torbay counts in my book.]

I will get a girlfriend. [Let's not delve into this one, shall we?]
I will give up chocolate for Lent. [Whoops. Completely forgot about this one. Missed the start of lent by 2 days.]
I will wean off my Pescatarian diet by the time the June exams come. And I will then learn to cut the sugars and carbs out of my diet. [Did the first bit, getting to grips with the second]
I will run a 10K (standard triathlon distance). [My longest run of the year seems to be 6.74km.]
I will cycle 40K (standard triathlon distance). [My longest bike ride for the year was 16km.]
I will try to do a triathlon in one day. Yes, I know I've had this resolution as holiday targets that never ever gets done, but I'm going to give it a try.

I will NOT ask my parents for any more money until the 2012/2013 academic year, when I really need money to pay my tuition fees. [Didn't]
I'm allowed to buy an iPhone 5 and a new Mac this year. NO MORE. No iPad, no iPod. [Followed through.]

My 2012 New Year's Resolution Report Card: 11 / 20. PASSED!

Moving on to 2013...

My New Year's Resolution for 2013...

Academics & Job Prospects: ___/3
  • I will graduate with a 2:1 minimum, and a 2:1 minimum in my dissertation.
  • I will keep in touch with my friends from Exeter.
    I admit, I'm rubbish at this, so this one's probably going to turn red.
  • I will make it to a Masters Programme.
    Applications have been prepared, and references have been sought after. It all depends on my results now.
Society Stuff: ___/3
  • I will do a Breakfast Show in the new term.
  • I will contribute to the best damn Guild Election Coverage, Varsity Coverage, and Busking Culture Show.
  • I will hand over every thing I do for Xpression by March.
    Everything. Website, Station Sound, News/Sports Show Production, Logo, the whole lot.
Personal Life and Finance: ___/4
  • Personal Life Resolution 1
  • Personal Life Resolution 2
    Some things are just not meant to be shared in the public domain. My top 2 resolutions for this section are amongst them. When I see this at the end of 2013, I will know what 2 resolutions this bullet point represents. But for everyone else, just know that there are two resolutions here that I really want to achieve in 2013. From a personal view, these resolutions mean a lot to me, but they are tough nuts to crack. I have been making progress towards resolution 1 in 2012. Here's hoping that things will get better, eh?
  • I will make it a point to do some form of exercise every week.
    Badminton, Football, Cycling, Swimming, Running, whatever it may be. As long as I can get my sorry bum off my bed.
  • I will not buy any tech stuff worth over £250/€250/S$500/US$400/IDR4,000,000.
    (Doesn't include bikes and cars, but does include Apple products, phones and whatnot. I did buy an iPhone towards the end of 2012, a new laptop in September 2012, and I am in possession of a new iPad. So, really, there is no reason for me to be buying anything in 2013. The only exception to the rule that I will allow is a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L ii USM Lens. Apart from that, nothing over the above-stated prices. Subject to change, with currency fluctuations.)
Total: ___/10.
What will I score? Well, bring on 2013!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Albums I'm looking forward to...

It just dawned on me that there are a few albums I'm actually quite looking forward to purchasing listening on Spotify in the next few weeks. So, what better way to present my wishlist than in this section below?

In chronological order...

Misty Eye Aiden Grimshaw
Out 20 August 2012

Misty Eye by Aiden Grimshaw

Already one of my favourite X Factor dropouts (yeah, that's right, Olly Murs! Take that!), Aiden's already made the charts with his first single, "Is This Love". So clearly, there is still some love for this guy. After leaving the competition and going under the radar for quite a while, perhaps doing a bit of soul-searching and finding what direction to take, it's good to see him make a comeback, and to return with an album that plays to his strengths - the raw vocals, the emotions brimming through. He's probably relieved that it's not "Queen vs Gaga Week". With a second single and debut album coming soon, there's quite a bit to look forward to from Mr Grimshaw.

ORA by Rita Ora
ORA Rita Ora
Out 27 August 2012

After lending her vocals to the chart-topping DJ Fresh track "Hot Right Now", and following that with her own Number 1 "R.I.P.", you could say she's done quite well for herself (so far, at least). After hearing the stuff she's released so far, I'm quite looking forward to her album, just to see what direction she's taking with it - we know she can do loud, we know she can do heart-pumping dance numbers, but will she do anything else? August 27 is the date when we'll find out. Either way, she'll probably do quite well with this album, riding on the momentum of her chart successes. 

Beacon Two Door Cinema Club
Out 2 September 2012

Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club

Following the brilliant debut album "Tourist History" (which, in spite of its frequent usage in VTs and TV adverts, I still love) back in 2010, the band has finally cobbled something together for release next month. No previews, apart from their first single from the new album, "Sleep Alone". Judging from this track, seems like the new album will carry on with the same style of music as the first album - so fans shouldn't worry too much, then. They're a great indie alt rock band, and they're right up my street - to be honest, I'm just glad that they're finally releasing some new stuff!

Coexist The XX 
Out 10 September 2012

Coexist by The XX
Mercury Prize Award-winning indie band The XX. Coming off their self-titled debut album from 2009, the music world is celebrating and anticipating this hot new release from these Londoners who have developed some sort of music identity or signature that is unique to them - tracks that sound soft and quiet, with bits of silence here and there, but yet, they captivate the listeners with the deep and dark sounds that were (apparently) made in the middle of the night in a garage (they didn't want to disturb their neighbours, you see). It's become their forté (no pun intended there), and to hear that they are back, it can only be good news for music lovers everywhere.

Babel Mumford & Sons
Out 24 September 2012

Babel by Mumford and Sons
Word has gone out that Mumford & Sons will be back with a new album on later next month. Not much was spilled on what the album will be about, or what it would sound like. But as you may remember, their sounds were quite apt for the autumn season (I blame the banjos), so here's one to look forward to later in the year. 

So, there you have it, the 5 albums I'm looking forward to between now and the end of September...

Saturday, 4 August 2012

New Laptop Time...

So, it's that time of the electronic product life cycle when I should start thinking about replacing the piece of metal and plastics with which I'm composing this blog post on - my beloved, trusty MacBook Pro 5,1 (Late 2008 model).

A few reasons why I want to move on to a new laptop...

1. It's aged to the point where my experience of using it has become slightly annoying.

  • It's 3.33 years old (so my 3-year AppleCare Plan has expired).
  • The RAM on this system has been maxed out at 4GB, and trust me, between Lightroom, Photoshop, Audition, and I can use all 4GB. (I've heard that I can install 8GB on this Mac, but Apple officially only supports 4GB, and I'm going to let someone else do the experimenting if they wish to).
  • I refuse to install an SSD on this thing just because any performance gains I expect from splurging £x will be bottlenecked by the choke of my SATA II connection (and for reasons that you will see later on, I might be incurring an unnecessary expense if I do carry on with upgrading to an SSD)
  • The battery life is weak. And I genuinely mean weak. Even after I spent US$129 on a new battery pack last year (yes, this is one of those Macs with the user-replaceable battery packs), I'm struggling to get past 2 hours of lectures on a single charge (imagine my horror if I have back-to-back lectures in rooms where plugs are scarce!)
  • Call me paranoid, but with the noises that the Hard Drive has been making from time to time, I dread to think of when it will just fail on me one day. I won't be surprised if my cycling (plus, I suspect that the lid opens and closes during my commute sometimes) is killing the internal drive.
2. In spite of what I said above, my MacBook Pro still has some resale value to it - it works fine (even for Photoshop or Aperture work). It's a sturdy, reliable machine that has only GSOD'ed on me once, and it still retains ridiculously long uptimes up till now. And bar a missing black soft cushion piece at the bottom, it's (arguably) the best MacBook Pro around, partly due to the high repairability of this system, and the availability of the very underrated ExpressCard slot. (USB 3? Card reader? No problem!)

3. Student discount: This is probably the last year I'll qualify for student discounts (unless I make it to a Masters Programme).

4. The specs in the current MacBook lineup are not too shabby. Kepler graphics, Ivy Bridge (with those much-hyped 3D transistors), USB3 + Thunderbolt, SSD options (within the top-end of my budget, after student discount). If I want to be future-proof for at least the next 3 years, this is a good base to start from.

So, that's my case for changing my laptop.

Now, let the Ron meet the Macs (bad pun intentional.)

There's one outright flagship Apple product in their Mac lineup right now. If you went to Apple's MacBook Pro page, it's the only one you'll see - the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. (subtext to this is: Apple is saying that if you want to buy the other MacBook Pros, you're buying a leftover - like buying an iPhone 3GS when the 4S is out. Except for the fact that the prices on the "inferior" models haven't dipped at all, as far as I can see).

I have to say, the reality distortion field must have worked on me, because man, do I want a Retina MacBook Pro (rMBP) more than the standard MacBook Pro (MBP). The thin 2.04kg slab of power, with Flash drives standard, beautiful display, and "asymmetrical fans" (honestly, they couldn't bring this down to the rest of the notebook lineup?).

There's one spec that has been catching my attention, though - the 2880x1800 Retina IPS Display. Or, more to the point, how well third-party apps will work on this display.

It has come to my attention that all the Apple marketing/photos seem to show Apple-only software that have been updated to support the retina display - Lion/Mountain Lion, Final Cut Pro, Aperture, iPhoto, etc.

Now, that is nice and all, but that got me wondering - what about apps that I use on a day-to-day basis? Adobe Audition, Photoshop, Lightroom? Microsoft Office? Chrome? Spotify? In short, how long will these apps be updated to look how they should on the retina display?

I have been reading on this issue, and it appears that most Cocoa apps can be ported to the Retina display quite easily and quickly - that bodes well for Chrome, which is based on the Cocoa API. But what about apps that are still relying heavily on Carbon APIs, which have now been deprecated in Mountain Lion? Apps like Microsoft Office, for example. With the exception of Outlook, it appears that Microsoft Office is largely reliant on Carbon APIs at its core (thankfully, they have moved some of their UIs over to Cocoa, albeit in a haphazard manner leading to some questionable UI decisions made at Redmond).

I fear that we may have a long wait before Microsoft will get their act together to release a Cocoa-based Microsoft Office with support for all that is good in OS X - 64-bit (and with that, security), HiDPI, etc. Until then, Office will look pixelated on the Retina display. Worse still, no word has come out from Adobe or Microsoft on when they will release updates on Retina-enabled apps. Adobe has committed Adobe Photoshop to be Retina ready, but no timeline has been released for PS, let alone the rest of their Creative Suite. Microsoft's last words on updates were that they will support LION (read: Not Mountain Lion, so this was a year ago) features such as Autosave and Versions.

As much as Apple is pushing leaps and bounds above their competitors with regards to hardware, the support that the OS X platform is getting from their major software developers are not as breathtaking - if anything, it's disappointing. Perhaps it's Apple's fault, given their habit of secrecy and non-disclosure agreements. Maybe this has given developers mixed messages, maybe they are confused as to how they should be developing for Apple's platform. But then again, a platform is nothing without a great ecosystem. As much as Apple looks down on Microsoft and Adobe, they are major parts of this ecosystem, and they are there to stay (well, maybe not Microsoft, given that their commitment to the Mac platform and to new releases of Office for Mac ended last year). With the lack of developer support for HiDPI and the Retina Display on the MacBook Pro, I might hold off buying the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

To sum up...

Retina MacBook Pro

+ Future-proof
+ Thinner, lighter and lightly to be more durable than the standard MacBook Pro (SSD FTW!)
+ Beautiful screen
+ Kills off legacy technology - HDD, Optical drive

– Lack of third-party HiDPI support means unsupported apps will look pixelated on this screen
– Lack upgradeability or repairability, with its non-standard and soldered parts
– Expensive. Very expensive.
– Lack of certain ports that I'd use (Ethernet, Audio In)

Standard MacBook Pro

+ Cheaper (ish)
+ Upgradeable (ish) (SSD?)
+ Everything you need is there (even FW800!)
+ No issue from lack of retina support

– Feels like an older product (or in my case, my current laptop)
– Heavier

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Vacation. ish.

So, it's 1 month into my summer vacation. Or so it seems. See, I thought vacations are a time for relaxing on the beach and chilling out. But no, I'm stuck in my bedroom in Indonesia, having nothing to do because I don't have a car, my own money, or free will when I'm back home. I basically have to do everything my with brothers or parents - which is why I hate going back home nowadays. Oh well...

Got to say, though, in spite of what I said above, I've had the break I desperately needed from the stuff I've been dealing with in the last academic year, from Photosoc to Xpression, and academic and personal stuff. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them, but I was so physically and emotionally drained after my exams). Been piling on the weight (and then shedding some of it with my bike - <3 my 2011 Specialized Allez Elite).

What have I been up to this summer? Well, while others are doing productive stuff like Internships and day jobs, I've been doing none of that.

The first 3 weeks since I got back to Indonesia (ok, maybe more towards the later parts of those 3 weeks), I've been busy (like a few other poor souls out there) churning away demos for the Student Radio Awards. I don't wish to blabber on too much about it, because:

  1. You're probably not interested in Multi-Track Editing (unless you want to be Production Trained next term, in which case, get used to that term! =D), and 
  2. (wha-hey!) someone else has done it! 
Check out Olli's blog, Face For Radio, for more about Xpression FM's SRA Entries for 2012. Here's hoping that Xpression will do well in the awards this year... 

So, that's the first 3 weeks. Between that time and, well, next Wednesday, I guess, it's all about the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Global Business Challenge – The Global Finals in Sri Lanka. (you cannot have a smooth segue between SRA and CIMA GBC, can you?). So, Adam, Kate, Ben and I have been busy practicing, packing, and getting our visa applications and travel arrangements sorted. The 4 of us (with the support of our awesome mentor Chie Min Teng) are representing Exeter University and the United Kingdom in the CIMA GBC Finals this year, and we're really looking forward to this competition - after all, it's such a rare opportunity, so we'll do our best!

Before I move on to the other stuff I've been up to, I need a favour from you, the reader - just spare a few seconds and 2 mouse clicks - head on to and click on "Vote for this video". Honestly, it'll help our team a lot in the video competition (one part of this challenge). So, please vote, and if you already voted, I really appreciate it, and thank you very much. *virtual pat on the back and a virtual hug* xxx

As a treat, our team leader Adam has uploaded the outtakes onto YouTube - enjoy!


Speaking of travelling, I've been busy sorting out Visa applications as well - and boy, is it not an enjoyable or pleasant thing to be doing when you've got your holiday cap on. 

I. Sri Lanka
Let's see, I had to apply for the Sri Lanka Visa, which by the way, for anyone interested, is actually the easiest Visa Application process I've ever come across, bar the Hong Kong and ASEAN ones (where it's Visa on Arrival for me :D ). You literally only need to fill in a form online, wait 24 hours, and voila, you're sorted.

II. Canada
Next stop was Canada. My family is heading to the US East Coast 15-26 August, and apparently, because my brother booked us on a tour that actually involves us entering Canadian territory (aka Toronto), we need to apply for a Canadian Visa. As part of the visa application process, they asked for your Family Information, and when they say "Family Information", they genuinely mean Family Information. 

For example, can you give me: 
  • the Full Name, 
  • Date and Place of Birth, 
  • Marital Status, 
  • Current Address/Occupation (or if deceased, place and date of death), 
  • and indicate if they are following you on your trip, 
for EACH of the following people:
  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Your Mum & Dad
  • Your brothers and sisters (ALL brothers and sisters, including half-brothers/sisters and step-brothers and sisters)
  • Your sons and daughters (including ALL half-sons/daughters, and step-sons/daughters and adopted sons/daughters)
Now, for my mum, who has 12 (that's not an exaggeration) siblings (with no knowledge of the birthdates or whereabouts of half of them) and no knowledge of her parents' exact date of birth, or for my dad, who has 7 siblings, this was a tricky hurdle to jump, that, let's face it, the Canadians probably don't really need.

Seriously, people, if you're going to make us jump through hoops and hurdles to get a visa to visit your country and maybe contribute to your GDP, cut the crap, and just ask what needs to be asked. Else, be prepared to kill off your tourism sector.

And also, wtf, Canada? Really? You create barcodes that will only be read if they were printed with Laser Printers? So you expect every applicant for your visa to own/have access to a Laser Printer?! That's such an unnecessary inconvenience! Sort yourself out, Canada!

Anyway, we got the visas. So case closed.

I'm just thankful we already have 5-year US Tourist Visas, else that would be another visa we'd need to apply for...

III. Schengen
Another visa application that I'm tied up with at the moment is the Schengen Visa - a few of my mates are heading to Bordeaux for a camping trip (or something like that), and I'm hoping to tag along (assuming I can get my Visa done in time). Got all the docs, apart from an Invitation letter, Lodging attestation and Student Status Letter from the Uni. This is my issue right now - trying to get the letters from France/the UK to my home address in Indonesia before my appointment (which is currently 10 August 2012, but I'm hoping to push it forward, else I won't get the visa in time before I leave for my family holiday). 

I requested a letter from my Uni on 26 June 2012. They sent it out on 29 June. Today, it's 19 July, and to my knowledge, it's not reached my mailbox yet. Which begs the question - where on earth (literally) is this letter? It's been 20 days, and there's no sign of it. It could be anywhere, heck, it could still be on a desk in Exeter, and I wouldn't know.

So, if I look panicky, now you know why. Thank heavens it only takes ~5 working days to get a Schengen Visa now (not 15 working days, or 3 weeks to you and me, which was how long it used to take).

Oh, and Natwest, thanks for nothing - they can't even send a bank statement abroad, even if I'm willing to pay for it. And that's even if I've given them the 2nd and 4th digit of my password and pin - it's me, and it is my bank account, you idiots, now listen to me when I'm giving authorisation for you to mail an important document to me for a very important reason - a Visa application! Oh, I forgot, you're probably British, and you probably never had to deal with one that asks for your bank statement... Ah, right....

Sorry. Had to get that off my chest somehow. Anyway, let's stop talking about the V word - it genuinely makes my blood boil.

Also, while I'm writing a blog post, congrats to all those who're graduating this week! Been looking at all the photos flooding my news feed on Facebook - it's quite hard to ignore/miss them. So, congrats to all you stars out there who hugged/will be hugging Floella, and of course, all the best in your future endeavours. And always remember to wear sunscreen...

So, given that I haven't blogged about anything music-related in a while, thought I'd fix that now, and pop in a few tracks right at the end of this blog post - you know, as a reward for those who sticked all the way to the end. I've got 5 tracks that you should get onto your playlist, starting with...

#5: "Survival" by Muse
Video Link:

My motivational workout song. And topical, too - it's the Official Song of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (I wanted to ask - what happened to that Mark Ronson + Katy B track, but oh well, let's gloss over that for now). It's the sort of sound you'd expect from Bellamy & Co, but suited for the occasion it is meant to grace - the sound of an army of determined athletes at their peak, amongst the best in the world - the best of humanity in their sport, rising up to a challenge, climbing up this mountain to get to the top, going for gold, getting to the podium finish, whatever it takes, as if humans were in a post-apocalyptic race to survive. If you love Muse (which I do), you'd love this anthem - an anthem for the greatest sporting event in the world.

#4: "Spectrum (Say My Name) - Calvin Harris Remix" by Florence + The Machine

Current UK #1, and Florence's first (I, like many other, can't believe she's not had a number one before, but hey, at least she has one now). This vocal powerhouse (who's currently on voice rest, get well soon, Flo!) got the top spot, with a bit of help from Calvin Harris' dance beats. Nothing like a bit of collaboration, eh?

#3: "Clouds" by Newton Faulkner

Brit-nominated, guitar-wielding ginger from Surrey, this track is taken of Faulkner's latest album, "Write It On Your Skin", out now. If you love Jack Johnson or Ed Sheeran, this guy is probably up your streets as well. Oh, he's playing at the Great Hall at Exeter Uni on 20 October 2012, so be sure to look out for tickets if you love this track!

#2: "Angels" by The XX

Single out now, Album out 10 September. Following their Mercury Award-winning debut album and a seemingly never-ending tour schedule, The XX have been back in the studio, busy at work on their second album, and this is the first single off their long-awaited upcoming record, "Coexist". I've pre-ordered this on LP, so if (when) I do a show again next year, you'll be sure to hear it on Xpression!

#1: "Finale" by Madeon

Out 22 July (you can pre-order now, or stream his track on SoundCloud or YouTube), I can't get enough of this Ableton-rocking 18-year-old French guy who keeps rocking out dance numbers with his own audio signature - one that sound amazing and fresh with each new track.

And in case you're worried that Genevieve and I forgot about this, no, we haven't. I know Ladd has been working on some stuff, and I have done a few while I was editing SRA entries. But personally, I'm on an Adobe Audition break until after Sri Lanka. So HUSH!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Strip Programming Week!

(Note: This is in no way an attempt from me to copy/emulate Mr Whittle Interactive.)

It's day one of Strip Programming Week, and I thought I'd go through what I felt about my Strip Programming experience thus far in this blog post.

Not going to lie, it does feel a bit daunting at the moment - having to prepare five shows from one day to the next. Not forgetting I have other commitments at the moment, plus I am not the most discipline at doing show prep (that has its benefits in a week like this, though!).

But I think I'm settling to the idea a bit now, and I've though of a few features I want to try and last the week...

1. Local Band of the Day...
As some of you probably know by now, I am a big fan and advocate of the Exe List (not as big as Matt Aldous, but a fan nonetheless!). I love local music, and given this platform on Xpression (plus the 9 listeners I have out there), I want to expose my listeners to the local talent, and vice versa. Any publicity is better than none, eh? So I've sort-of started with that today, by playing Floods of Colour (formerly "New Rockets") on my show as part of the Exe List. I've got 2 bands lined up for the next two days, and I'm sure given some time and connections, I can get you more interesting local talents. So, do look out for this!

2. Sandwich of the Day...
Tried this today. Got 2 responses, which was 2 more than I expected (I mean honestly, is this the best feature on Radio? probably not.). I'll see how long I can keep this feature in my show - will scrap if necessary.

3. Guess the Hummed Intro to a song...
As some of you noticed, I have a bucket list on this blog. And in that list, I said I wanted to start an a capella group. Well, that's not the case anymore - I realised I'm nowhere near as good as Semi-Toned (whom I have complete admiration for). So, rather than do that, I'm going to bury that item by embarassing myself with a feature where I hum intros to songs (badly) and people have to guess them. Inspired by Callum's Guess the Outro challenge from tonight's Monday McLovin' Miracle Mixtape Show.

4. Yeah or Nay...
Yes, you thought this was a one-off feature on the Tuesday Breakfast Show. But Nay! It's back, this time, in a week! I want everyone to get involved with this one! I'm putting up polls on the XpressionFM Facebook Page - get democratic! It's for laughs and bants, not for serious shizzle. But I still want to see those poll responses (partly to satisfy my own ego, I guess XD).

5. Dance Hour on Xpression FM...
You know I like my dance music. I'm not going to lie - I dread and fear the notion of having to play 5 hours of dance music - Let's face it, you've never been to Arena from start to finish without coming across some lemons (and I don't mean the fruit) in their setlist, have you? I'll try my best, I may have to recycle tracks (as I already did today). But have faith, it will all be fine...

Aye, Structure. Gotta love 'em!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tuesday Breakfast Show!!!

As we March into a new month (get the pun?), I thought I'd fire up my blog and post some of the stuff that's been happening on my Tuesday Breakfast Radio Show! (about time, you might say. If you see my iCal, you'll see why I've been leaving it till this late. I'm a student, after all!)

Some highlights from my show from the 31 January 2012 to 28 February 2012...

Records of the Week...

Every week (unless I screwed up and completely forgot), I pick a song to be my record of the week. I try to pick new stuff, obviously. And as you can tell, my music taste is quite mainstream - Top 40-ish sort of stuff, so if you're into that sort of thing, you might find a few tracks below that you may not have heard of, but like. So, enjoy!

31 Jan: Roll Deep - Picture Perfect

7 Feb: Madeon - Pop Culture
(Retrospectively declared - didn't realise I didn't pick a record that week... But as I said on air, this is a mix of samples from 39 different tracks, done in Ableton Live, by a 17-year-old kid. Not bad, for a DJ that can't buy alcohol yet...)

14 Feb: DJ Fresh ft. Rita Ora - Hot Right Now
(Note: This record went to #1 in the week I made it my RoTW! Not saying I didn't have anything to do with that, but, let's just say I did. In a very small way, perhaps.)

21 Feb: Clock Opera - Once And For All
(Something to get you up in the early morning, perhaps?)

28 Feb: Nero - Must Be The Feeling

Retro Record of the Week...

I only introduced this feature in my latest show (28 Feb), so there's only one to get out of the way, but it's a gem. Taken off the 1965 record "Bringing It All Back Home", it reached #1 in the UK and US Charts (a first for Dylan), it's Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man. What a tune...

Ed Sheeran Remixes of the Week...

Every week, I played an Ed Sheeran Remix of the Week on my show. You can catch more remixes from Ed's SoundCloud page, or alternatively, I've embedded my picks below for your convenience & listening pleasure...

31 Jan: You Need Me, I Don't Need You (Gemini Remix)

7 Feb: Drunk (Rudimental Remix)

14 Feb: The A Team (KoanSound Remix)

21 Feb: Lego House Subscape Remix

28 Feb: Drunk (Lazy Jay's Rave-o-Lution Dub Remix)

31 JAN 2012: FIRST SHOW!!!
First show! Quite nervous, but stoked to finally own a share of the Xpression FM schedule slot to call my own...

Since it's a first show, I thought I'd pick songs to reflect stuff I/people do in the morning (outside the toilet, I mean)

Songs for the Hungover: Ed Sheeran - Drunk

Songs for the people who can’t open their eyes: Steve Angello ft Alex Metric - Open Your Eyes

Songs for the 1D fans out there / My Guilty Pleasure: One Direction - One Thing 

Song for those walking to campus: Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream

Songs for those working out early in the morning: Skrillex - Breakin' A Sweat

Songs for the Cyclists: Mark Ronson ft. The Business Int'l - The Bike Song

Songs for feeling good today: Flo Rida - Good Feelin

Songs for the Brightonian inside me: Fatboy Slim - Praise You

Most apt song request ever: Panic! At The Disco - Nine In The Afternoon (Thanks, Josh Irwandi!)


I was being all corporate and promoting the Guild Election Debates that were happening that night + the Xpression FM Coverage of the elections. Obviously, the elections are over, the winners have been announced, and everyone's forgotten about it. But if you want to relive the Guild Election madness, we still have interviews with the winning candidates on the XpressionFM SoundCloud. We also have the debate shows + ALL candidates (bar one who was quite late to their interview slot, so we didn't have time to put hers on - Delphi!) on our Podomatic Podcast...


Thanks to the Xpression FM Crew for the surprise Birthday celebration they put up for me the night before my show - did not expect the surprise at all...

Because of what happened the night before, this was my hangover show, so pardon the not-so-brilliant picks, but for my Valentine's Day feature, I went with...

And the anti-V-day tune...

And for my Birthday, (thanks to Leonie for finding me this track)

21 FEB 2012: Shrove Tuesday, AKA PANCAKE DAY

So, 21 Feb was pancake day. Days before the day, I was planning a really dull feature where I get my Mac to read out pancake recipes. Not very interesting, is it? Then, Robin came up to me and, well, he didn't suggest to me, he told me it's happening - Pancake, Skype, his house, me in Studio 2, Live on Air, Keen Team (Hazel Morgan & Genevieve Ladd, the freshers) vs the Dream/Safe Team (Jack Franklin and Robin Chu). Pancake Face-off! It's ON!!!!!

The result? See below...

The Keen Team's entry...

The Dream Team's Entry...

The Pancake Faceoff Crew... (L-R: Hazel Morgan, Jack Franklin, Robin Chu, GenevieveLadd)
Photo credits: Jack Franklin and Genevieve Ladd.
Massive massive THANK YOU to the Dream Team and Keen Team!

28 FEB 2012: Chart Attack & Reverse Challenge

#1 on Student Chart: DJ Fresh ft. Rita Ora: Hot Right Now
#1 on UK Charts: Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know
#1 Album: Adele 21 (played the John Legend Cover of "Rolling In The Deep")

Reverse Challenge: 
This is the newest feature that I hope to make a regular one on my show...
Simple: I pop a song into Cool Edit Pro/Adobe Audition, reverse it, play it on air, you try to guess what it is, and I give you the answer right after I play a reverse remix.

And The answer to the week's reverse challenge: Lana Del Ray - Born To Die

Tune in to the Tuesday Breakfast Show with Ronald Liong / @ronfiles, Tuesdays 8am - 10am, on 87.7 Xpression FM. 

You can listen online... 
via the widget on the right column of my blog (they're HTML 5, so they're experimental), 
via the Tunein Radio App,
or via iTunes (Click on the Radio tab on the left, look under "College / University", and scroll to the bottom.)

Within the Exeter area, you can hear us on 87.7FM (unless you live beyond Arena and the Quay/river, in which case your mileage may vary).

And of course, we are on campus - in the Student Shop.

You can get involved with the show via:
Twitter: @ronfiles or @xpressionfm
Call: 01392 723568