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Ice Cream Sandwich anyone?

When I saw the headlines this week about an ice cream sandwich, I was intrigued to find out what all the fuss was about.  It was a wee bit disappointing to find out that it was not in fact something scrumptious to eat that was causing such a stir but the new software that has been released for Android smartphones – disappointing to say the very least!

Apparently, Ice Cream Sandwich adds a range of new features and a redesigned interface and has been  launched in partnership with Samsung, whose Galaxy Nexus handset will be the first to use it.

Ice Cream Sandwich – also known as Android 4.0 – follows the tradition of naming versions after cakes, confectionery or frozen desserts – Previous releases have been codenamed Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo and Gingerbread.

Android’s main rival, Apple, released an update to its iOS software last week, although many owners were unable to download it immediately due to overwhelming demand. As an aside, I did manage to download the update to my iPhone but it seems to have lost a lot of the features and apps that I had previously – not great!

Android – which is owned by Google – and Apple are continually leap-frogging each other in terms of design and functions, as both compete for customers in the fast-growing global smartphone market.

According to figures published in August, Android handsets accounted for 48% of smartphones shipped to retailers, compared with 19% for Apple devices. However, many more Android models are available, from manufacturers such as HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

The fierce competition has, on occasion, brought the two sides into direct conflict and Apple and Samsung are currently engaged in a number of legal battles, around the world, some of which involve claims of patent infringement and “copying” of device look and feel.

To date, Apple has obtained injunctions on Samsung Galaxy tablets being sold in Germany and Australia, with a ban on some smartphones due to come into effect in the Netherlands.

And, in the news today, we hear that Steve Jobs had said he wanted to destroy Android and would spend all of Apple’s money and his dying breath if that is what it took to do so!  The full extent of his animosity towards Google’s mobile operating system is revealed in a forthcoming authorised biography where Mr Jobs told author Walter Isaacson that he viewed Android’s similarity to iOS as “grand theft”.

All this mobile phone technology is clearly a very serious matter, which is why I feel the need to share this clip with you to put things back into perspective – enjoy!

RIP Steve Jobs

We woke this morning to the sad news that Steve Jobs had passed away at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. It is always a waste of someone’s life to die at what is a relatively young age but somehow it is always more shocking when it is someone we’ve all heard of and who’s influence on the world of technology has been so great.

What I wasn’t aware of, was that as well as being chairman of Apple, he was CEO and majority shareholder of Pixar Animation until its acquisition by the Walt Disney Company in 2006. Consequently Steve Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder at 7 percent and a member of Disney’s Board of Directors.

He was also a huge fan of the Beatles and, when asked about his business model he was quoted as saying “My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”.

If you click on, Apple’s corporate website, you will be greeted by a simple page showing Jobs’s name and lifespan next to his greyscale portrait. Clicking on Jobs’s image you will find an obituary that reads “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”.

I feel somewhat humbled after the cheap shot I made in yesterday’s post about the latest Apple product!

WOW Factor

October 4th was the day when Apple were expected to announce the launch of the iPhone 5 but what they actually announced was the release of the The iPhone 4S, (as the model will be known), which boasts an improved camera and significantly extended battery life.

Yawn, yawn. Please wake me up when something new and exciting actually happens. Give me something that makes me go “WOW!” and not simply repackage something that was already there.

For me, October 4th was the day when I experienced a new dining experience at Underwood Lockhouse in Bonnybridge.

The very first thing that caught my eye was the TV screens attached to the beer pumps – what a marvellous idea and why haven’t I seen this before in pubs or restaurants? Watching a football match in the pub will never be the same again – you can still watch all the action while you’re waiting to be served – how marvellous?!? Forget the X Factor – so last year – give me the WOW factor any day!

So, what else does the Underwood Lockhouse have to encourage patrons to visit. Well, almost certainly its location on the Forth & Clyde Canal couldn’t be more idyllic, from the gushing waters at the lock gates to the family of swans that are a permanent fixture. But, more importantly, the food was quite simply stunning! I was greeted by the owner, Bunty, who asked me what I liked and 10 minutes later the most mouthwatering dish of chicken was placed in front of me to try. Yes, it was spicy and laced with green chillis as I had requested, but the other ingredients of black pepper, lemon and coriander were all present in an explosion of tastes on my palate. Later I had the pleasure of trying a variety of further dishes such as the haggis and back pudding pakora, a gorgeous delicately spiced salmon and chicken tikka, followed by the delightfully indulgent gulab jamun and ice cream. However, if Indian food is not to your taste, there is a wide range of European dishes available to ensure everyone in your party is catered for.

But Underwood Lockhouse is so much more than a restaurant. Upstairs is Bar 17 which is an ideal venue for the amazing events that are staged weekly. Live entertainment is on every Friday and Saturday night and throughout the week there are various promotions such as last night’s Quiz and Curry night which cost a mere £5 per head and the delicious dishes that were served were impeccable as always, despite the low cost.

Bunty has thought of everything. He even has a courtesy bus service which, if booked in advance, can pick you up in Falkirk town centre and drop you back again after your meal. He also does take aways and home delivery. His attention to detail and high standards are a credit to him an I would urge you to pay a visit as soon as possible to sample a very special dining experience.

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