Can anybody take a bite out of Apple?

It seems like everything Apple touch turns to gold at the moment, they have just released the iPad 2 and stores started to run out of stock in just hours, which is no surprise as the queues at some stores were up to 800 people long! Ok so the Ping social network they tried to launch was pretty much a flop, but hardly anybody heard about (probably why it flopped) so that is easy to brush under the carpet!

Yet Apple products polarize people, usually because while they are the coolest products on the market, then actually if you compare the specs of different products on the market, and the prices, then on paper it looks like the Apple products are not the best choice, so what is going on? Well first of all Apple are innovators and marketers, I mean I am pretty sure tablets were around before the iPad launched, but nobody really wanted one. Then Apple comes onto the scene and suddenly it is a ‘must have’ gadget and just a year later the market is being flooded with tablet computers from a whole range of manufacturers.

That means Apple gets the market share early on and then are seen as the people to go to for that kind of product. Like the mp3 players, there is no more iconic mp3 player than the iPod, and again there were probably already mp3 players on the market, but Apple made it cool, explained why we needed it, and made it easy to use, and suddenly everybody from 8 – 78 had those distinctive white earbuds in as they walked around.

You’ll notice I said they made them easy to use, which to me is the one big thing which separates the Apple products from the crowd, yes the products are cool, yes they have a big infrastructure to support them, like the iPod had iTunes which allowed access to millions of songs, and the iPhone and iPad have access to the app store, but they are all also really intuitive and easy to use, which is something we need as technology gets more daunting. I don’t care if something has more power than an iPad, if it is more complex at the same time then I am not going to get the benefit of that extra power as I’m never going to use it to its full capacity, I’ll just get frustrated with it and give up.

So should Apple be scared by all the new more powerful tablet computers coming onto the market, or all the smart phones trying to snap at their heels? I don’t think so, they seem to have the right combination of style, functionality and ease of use, and that is something the other companies can’t compete with.

What is the most popular sport at the moment?

When you think about how popular a sport is then it is easy to get drawn into conclusions based on how much you like a certain sport, or how popular sports are near you, or even just how popular they are in your own country. However don’t forget every country has massively different tastes, for instance I’d say American Football was the most popular US sport in terms of how many people watch it, now I don’t have any facts for that, I am just basing it on what I’ve seen, the audience numbers, the excitement people have for each game etc.

However outside of the US then it is not popular at all. There are fans worldwide of course, but as other countries don’t play the sport then it just doesn’t have a following like other sports that they can play and watch themselves. So globally, American Football is not that popular, definitely not compared to the other kind of football (known as soccer in some countries) which is supposed to have about 3 billion fans worldwide!

That number comes off and it seems a little steep to me as that means nearly 50% of the people in the world are football fans… but whatever the true number is then there is no doubt that it is a game played around the globe, from Pakistan to Portugal, from Peru to Timbuktu (I’m guessing on that last one!) and there are football leagues around the world, including large ones in the UK, Spain and Italy, which fuels peoples passion for the sport.

So what makes it so popular? Well for a start it is easy to play, all you need is a ball and then you can use anything as goal posts, sticks, clothes, bricks, anything, and then you can start playing. That makes is accessible to almost anyone and because kids grow up around the world kicking a football around, then a lot of them will want to watch how the ‘professionals’ do it. That to me is the real reason it is so popular, because pretty much anyone can enjoy it either by watching an amateur team near them, or catching any of the televised matches from any of the leagues around the world.

Remarkably then according to the second most popular sport is actually cricket! With over 2 billion fans worldwide, I think that is helped by the fact it is incredibly popular in India, which as one of the most populated countries in the world has a lot of fans to offer!

Will there ever be peace in our lifetimes?

Wouldn’t it be good if people could just get along! World peace, the seemingly unattainable goal that seems to be mentioned on every beauty pageant application form, but is it really possible?

Well at the moment we are a race that is competing for the same resources, whether that is power, money, or things like oil, food, minerals etc, then you can usually find somebody in the world at any given moment fighting over one of those things. Then there is religion too, religion has caused many wars over the years, as people try to subjugate those who do not agree with their religious ideals, and unfortunately a lot of that still goes on, just look at Ireland, or the Middle East for evidence of that.

While we struggle with dwindling resources, and while we are essentially stuck on one small rock together then I think we won’t ever see any lasting peace, military action is seen as a viable way to force someone to give you what you want (even though it rarely works out like that). The one thing that I think will help to unite us and bring peace is space…

What do I mean by that? Well there are two different scenarios. The first is that we do get a moon base built, which China and the US keep talking about doing. If we can establish a permanent base on another planet then I think it will allow us to think further than our own borders, and of course it will encourage co-operation as it will be such a mammoth task to complete. Also the people who live on the moon (that sound silly when said like that, but it might be reality soon) will find it harder to keep their prejudices, instead of being Chinese or British etc, they will just all be people trying to survive in a hostile environment at the forefront of history.

The second scenario is that we make contact with a race from another world. Yes I know I have spoken about living on the moon and about meeting aliens, but hey we’re not going to find the answer to world peace on our own world are we? If we meet an extraterrestrial race who is friendly then our little disputes will seem puny in comparison to the fact we are not alone in this universe, and hopefully we will unify as the human race, rather than what we think of ourselves as at the moment which is the country we live in, or the religion we follow etc.

However of course they could be hostile, and then we would be drawn together through a common enemy, and that is a powerful force which can banish old animosities and form solid alliances.

Or of course there is a third option, which is that technology advances so much that all our needs are met, nobody is short of food, shelter or comfort, we don’t rely on finite fuels to power our lives, and we can terraform new planets to meet the needs of a burgeoning population.

Unfortunately I don’t think any of those scenarios will become a reality, certainly not in my lifetime, but we can all dream, right?

What do you need to do to become a scuba diver?

Many adventurous people are thrilled by the idea of going deep below the surface of the ocean to a world that few will ever see with their natural eyes. There they can see marine life first hand, explore exotic plants, and experience extreme temperatures depending on dive locations or ocean depths. If this sport seems like something you would love to take part in, there are a few steps you need to take first.

First and foremost is to become certified. When diving, you are not only responsible for yourself, but for your partner as well. Like hiking or mountain climbing, you always need to have a partner. Check out your local YCMA or an independent business in your area. The instructors should be certified by the National Association of Diving Instructors (NAUI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Finding a skilled instructor for scuba diving is the same as finding a good mountain climbing instructor. When your life depends on something that’s as thick as a piece of rope, then you want to make sure your instructor is up to the job of teaching you everything you need to know to stay safe.

Next is to find the gear that you need. Before buying everything that the local diving store attendant deems to be a necessary purchase, you might find that your certification classes will provide you with certain pieces of equipment and only require you to buy certain others. When you do have to decide whether to continue renting or to purchase, then buy the equipment that makes you feel most comfortable. Purchase skin contact items like a quality mask, fins, snorkel and boots first. Then, move on to pieces of equipment that you have comfort preferences for. This will ensure that you always have the equipment that suits you best.

Last is to complete your open-water dives. You will be required to successfully perform five of these dives. Most diving agencies will have you start your lesson in swimming pools while you learn how to tread water and bringing a tired diver to shore. Your open-water tests will be carried out in a large body of water where you will be asked to perform all the skills you’ve learned. Consider this to be the scuba diving equivalent of a driving test. You spend the required hours in the pool and then take an instructor out in the water with you for the “real” test.

Once you are certified then you can jet off around the world if you want and start diving in exotic places like the Red Sea! Just remember that if you go a long time without diving (6 months or so) that you may need to have a refresher course before you put your own, and other people’s lives at risk by getting into the water again.