Leah Allen's Blog

Everything happens for a reason…

My top 5 summer must haves

These 5 must haves are vital to keep you beach side cool this summer. Become a beach babe in 5 easy purchases.
Maxi Dress from Republic
  1. The Maxi DressThis floral maxi dress from republic is the ideal piece of summer clothing, wear it over a bikini for a relaxed beach look, or dress it up with chunky jewellery to transform it into an elegant evening dress.Bikini from Asos.com
  2. The BikiniSailor stripes are everywhere this summer and this red and white stripe bikini is the perfect two piece to keep you looking on trend.Gladiator Sandals from Office
  3. Gladiator SandalsComfy yet stylish, these style of sandals finish off any outfit perfectly. Alexa Chung teamed her studded sandals with a floral dress.Body Makeup from Rimmel
  4. Instant TanIf you’re too impatient or too busy to be naturally sunkissed try this instant tan from Rimmel, Dries quickly and gives you beautifully glowing pins ready for a night on the town.Headband from Accessorize
  5. HeadbandsHeadbands have become a big must have as they are very adaptable and perfect for managing your hair on the beach. They come in range of styles and colours, this one from Accessorize is fun and colourful with a tribal feel.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | fashion | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Analysis

The Times Newspaper

People visit sites for different reasons, but whatever the reason, websites should aim at providing users with the required information in the most efficient way possible. This essay will look at the journalistic website of Times Online and analyse it in terms of its usability.

Searchability

Times Online is quick and easy to find, after inputting the words ‘the times’ it is the first link that appears on Google.This link further defines what the user might be looking for by including a direct link to each section of the website, such as ‘Sport’ or ‘Business’.

Usability

Flanders states that a common mistake in bad web design is when a user is unable to spot the focal point straight away. The Times website fails to indicate an obvious focal point as the homepage is cluttered with a vast amount of information and it is difficult to pin point the most important story.

Navigation

Times Online features a top navigation bar on the homepage which supports the main sections of the paper, below this is a sub navigation bar which breaks each sections down into more specific sub-sections, for example the section of ‘Sport’ includes sub-sections of ‘Cricket, ‘Golf’ and ‘Football’. This allows the users to access their required destination with minimal effort.

Design

Nielsen suggests that websites should follow conventional web design in order for users to know what features to expect and understand how to operate them. Times Online utilises a limited yet consistent colour scheme throughout the site.

Content

The website is trying to reach a wider and more technology literate audience by providing users with the options of text updates on their mobiles, iphone applications and the ability to follow the ‘Times Online’ on social networking sites such as Twitter.

Video and Audio

Times Online features a whole section purely on video content, which makes news stories more interesting and comprehendible, however a downfall of using video content on the site is that it tends to take longer to load than other content and may encourage users to look elsewhere.

Overall Times Online is an effective journalistic website and efficiently assists users in finding relevant news and other items of interest. However its usability is compromised due to the number of items on the homepage which make it difficult to navigate.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle | , , , , | Leave a comment

Public dismay at Primark’s padded bikini for seven year olds

A few major clothing stores such as Primark and Tesco caused a lot of public controversy and concern this week after they were accused of sexualising children by selling padded bikini tops for children as young as seven. Both clothing chains have now withdrawn the sale of these bikini tops and Primark publicly apologised and said they would donate profits to a children’s charity.

A lot of people were shocked and appalled that such stores would sell this sexualised image to young, innocent girls. David Cameron described the sale as “disgraceful”.  It is the latest store to face such criticism about items that our considered inappropriate for children, but it is not the only store. Asda have previously been pin pointed for selling a push up bra aimed at young girls,  Tesco were forced to withdraw a pole dancing kit which disgustingly featured in the ‘toys’ section. Furthermore WHSmith withdrew their Playboy stationary last year, but did not justify their reasons.

David Cameron demanded social responsibility and spoke about how as a nation we force early commercialisation and sexualisation upon young children. In order to put an end to this the Mumsnet Let Girls be Girls campaign offers retailers and manufacturers the chance to end premature sexualisation of young children along with charities such as the NSPCC.

Previously I had been unaware of how many sexualised products are available to young children, and after this story hit the headlines this week it made realise how unjustifiable and wrong these actions are. I too agree that young children are forced to behave and act like adults long before they should, there is a vast amount of pressure on young girls to look grown up, and this coincides with the ideal of having big boobs. I feel that kids should be kids for as long as they can, they should look and behave like kids and should not feel forced to look older than they are. Growing up, facing puberty and the complex world of adult sexuality is difficult as it is, so lets not force it on them till they’re ready.

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Lifestyle | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kick Ass totally kicked ass!

Many people have criticised Kick Ass as a wannabe superhero movie, that glamorises violence and displays children in an unnatural manner. However in my opinion I feel that British producer,  Matthew Vaughn’s creation is outrageously funny, witty and a genius new concept on the popular superhero genre.

I went to see the film with my boyfriend and neither of us had any specific expectations of what was to come. I had heard many good reviews over the radio and through friends, however I was still none the wiser of the story line or what the movie involved.

At first it comes across as standard teen movie, set in an American high school, following a bunch of sex desperate geeky high school boys with crushes on the pretty, popular girls.

Three geeks in the movie

But after about twenty minutes it becomes clear that this movie is in a league of its own, giving a fresh, new outlook on our stereotypes of superheroes through the use of satire. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is your normal high school boy. After numerous occasions of being bullied by local thugs he decides that society shouldn’t sit back and just let this sort of behaviour happen. So he takes a stand, buys a rather uncomplimentary green wetsuit and reinvents himself as Kick Ass.

Kick Ass

Although he is somewhat passive and lacks excitement as a main protagonist, his persona creates a lot of humour and enjoyment for the audience. He manages to get involved in a gang brawl whilst trying to save a missing cat and this initiates his increasing popularity in New York City. His superhero aim is to do right and help people in New York but he seemingly lacks confidence and the skills to succeed. This is where Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) come into their own. Moretz who is simultaneously violent,  foul mouthed and adorable gives a star performance and her fight scenes are thrilling, intense and give Spider Man a run for his money.

Hit Girl

We also see the appearance of Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin, Superbad) once more. He is the rather lonely son of local gangster and millionaire Frank D’Amico.  He becomes the superhero, Red Mist with the aim of befriending Kick Ass so his father can have him killed, he gives another good performance and seemingly never fails at providing hilarity.

Overall this film is intelligently comical and outlandishly crazy and successfully manages to ridicule all other superhero movies. It is energetic, mischievous  and wildly rude, with excellent performances from young actors such as Moretz and Johnson. It is action packed and somewhat violent but through humour and wit Vaughn has managed to create a phenomenal and must see piece of cinema.

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Technology | Leave a comment

Blackberry’s: Do they really improve communication?

Recently Blackberry mobile devices have significantly dropped in price, this has led to an increase in the ownership of Blackberry’s by young people. The smart phones are well known for their organisational applications such as to-do lists, event reminders and synced emails. Furthermore they are also very popular for their Blackberry messenger which allows users to instant message other Blackberry owners.  All these applications allow for easier communication and effective time management.

However it could be argued that Blackberry’s owners are so obsessed with being an effective communicator and keeping up to date with contacts that they have gone over the top and possibly damaged their communication skills.

Coming from a student house where seven out of nine house mates own a Blackberry I sometimes question whether this has led to a lazier and Blackberry obsessed household. The Blackberry ‘PING’ sound constantly echoes around the house and we have gone so far as to create a messenger group for our house making it easier to talk to each other at once (even if we are all in the same room at that time). It could be argued that this way of communicating to each other is decreasing our own communication skills and possibly leading to communication apprehension in important discussions in the working world.

Being a proud owner of a Blackberry myself I think they are a very useful, convenient and fun phone to have. I admittedly spend too much time on it and my boyfriend would agree. However I don’t feel owning a Blackberry has affected my communication skills as of yet (touch wood). I enjoy having the phone and being able to use it to the best of my interests and don’t think I could ever go back to owning a normal mobile phone.

There is a lot of  other criticism surrounding the Blackberry often from iPhone owners who insist that the iPhone beats the BB on applications and connectivity. I cannot comment on this as I have never used an iPhone but I think the Blackberry Vs iPhone debate will exist for a while, or at least until something better comes along.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Technology | , , , | 1 Comment

Bournemouth’s Fashionistas

Sailor stripes, floral and nude shades are all on trend right now. I hit Bournemouth town to see what people are wearing and where you can steal their style from. This will give you an insight into the hottest trends on the highstreet right now and where to shop for them.

Fashionista No.1

I chose this girl because nautical is a key trend

on the catwalks and the high street at the moment.

Her knee high boots add glamour to her outfit

while the baggy stripey top gives it a casual feel.

Fashionista No.2

This girl is wearing a casual grey jersey dress

but has created a layered look with a

bleached denim cut off jacket and a scarf.

Her patterned tights are big on the high street

at the moment and are set to get bigger and b

righter as summer approaches.

Her distressed brown boots gives her outfit an edge.

Fashionista No.3

This girl has paired two key prints for this season

which make her outfit quirky and alternative.

Her cream lace print top is simple but the off

the shoulder design gives it a glamorous feel.

The heart print shorts are fun and the heart

print is appearing on everything from

skirts to tights on the highstreet.

Fashionista No.4

Floral playsuits are going to be big this summer

and have already made a big appearance on the

high street. This girl has teamed hers with a

knitted waistcoat to keep it casual and warmer

on the chilly spring days.

March 13, 2010 Posted by | fashion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Until death do us part?

Whether you’re team Katie, team Peter or really don’t care you cannot escape the celebrity relationships that are forced onto our front pages day after day. After the recent extensive press coverage of Cheryl and Ashley Cole’s marital problems it made me think, what makes us want to know every tiny detail of their relationship? In my opinion relationships should only involve the people in them and not the rest of the nation. I highly doubt that Cheryl cares what the readers of heat magazine think she should or shouldn’t do. After all we have no real clue of what actually happens between the two of them.

Cheryl and Ashley Cole

Another relationship that is starting to grate on me is Katie Price and Alex Reid. After publicly splitting with Peter Andre and making endless tv appearances about it she is back on the dating scene with cross dressing cage fighter Alex Reid. She took no time in agreeing to marry him either,  so little time they had to wed in Vegas because she couldn’t wait long enough after her divorce with Peter until she was legally allowed to Wed in England. Even when she’s in an apprently happy relationship she still manages to creep back into the press for one way or another.

Katie Price and Alex Reid

Other relationship scandals that have hit the headlines lately is that of Tiger Woods and John Terry, although I do not agree with their infidelities, I still don’t believe that their private lives should be plastered over the news. It is the wives that I feel sorry for in these cases, as if they haven’t faced enough shameand embarrassment they then have to deal with the wrath of the general public and the media.

John Terry and Toni Poole

Overall I feel that celebrities should be allowed to keep their private lives, private and we as a public shouldn’t feel like we have the right to know what goes on between them every second of every day. However in the case of Katie and Alex I don’t think we should give them the satisfaction of reading and watching every thing about them. One good thing that has come from these numerous celebrity relationship traumas is the influx of humorous Facebook pages.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Celebrity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lovely Bones 2010

The Lovely Bones is a tragic and moving story centred around a girl who has been murdered and watches her family and her killer from heaven. The 2010 film was directed by Peter Jackson who also directed Lord of the Rings, it was adapted from the best selling book by Alice Sebold in 2002.

Many of the reviews on this film negatively focus on the CGI aspects of the film, such as the scenes in heaven. One reviewer even stated “Peter Jackson’s unhealthy obsession with CGI truly drives his film off a cliff in his poor adaptation of the novel” (www.imdb.com).  I happen to agree with the critics on this aspect and felt that certain scenes did detached the audience from the horror of the story. They were long winded and at times unnecessary.

Another crticism in some reviews is that Jackson ruined the film by turning a story of grief and sorrow into a somewhat degrading and simple storyline. Crtitics have said that the film “lacks the poetic spark” that the novel portrayed and that the characters have been ‘dumbed down’ and been made to look silly. Although I have not read the book I feel that the film is still able to make the audience feel and it did make me think about things. Furthermore I thought the actors were brilliant and I became really involved with the characters and their emotions. I particularly thought Mark Wahlberg was good as Susie Salmon’s father.

Another point regarding the film was that it was only certified as a 12a. Throughout the film there are references to death, rape and the unknown. It made me wonder whether it would be suitable for children under 12 whether their parents were with them or not. I am 20 years old and still found some scenes disturbing and upsetting, and the powerful message that underlies the whole film could scare younger children, particularly girls. However if they did certify it as a 15 then it may have been portrayed as more of a horror story and the important message would not have got through to it’s audience. By certifying it as a 12a they are able to communicate the feelings of grief, sorrow and loss to a wider audience.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story

As part of my second year as a Communication and Media student I was required to write a short story…

Picture Perfect

“Good morning gorgeous” were the words that uttered from his lips as he rolled over and kissed me gently.

It never got boring, every morning my boyfriend would wake up, reluctantly check the time, so he wasn’t late for work as he so often was on a Friday. Then he would greet me with a romantic yet apologetic kiss. It was as if he felt guilty that he had to get up and go to work while I stayed at home all day. I didn’t mind one bit though, in fact I enjoyed looking after the house and keeping an eye on everything. However nothing could beat the sound of the lock turning in the front door and his footsteps at quarter past six on a Friday night, it always brought a blissful grin to my face.

I was always happy when I knew he was home on a Friday. I knew that the following day he would wake up, reluctantly check the time and then I would wait for the smile to spread across his face as the realisation of Saturday morning set in. He usually lies in until at least half eleven and I enjoy watching him while he sleeps and of course I know his sleeping habits all too well by now. He always sleeps with one leg out of the duvet, I always think this strange but he constantly assured me that it is the best way to stay at a perfect temperature. Since I have known him he has always had perfect floppy brown hair, the sort you would expect an Abercrombie model to pull off. It often falls in his face while he is sleeping and makes his nose twitch, this always makes me chuckle, I say it’s cute but he refuses to agree.

As he left the house for work, I would wait for the bleep of the remote central locking to his Audi and the crunching of the gravel on the driveway then I knew it would be a good nine hours until his presence graced me again.

I sat for a while reminiscing on all the moments we had spent together over the past four years. It was strange how we met. I had been working in Hair Care for eight months when I first saw him. He strolled in wearing a lavish looking grey pinstripe suit whilst chatting on his Blackberry.

“Just sort it, I want it finished by tomorrow Lisa” he scowled down the phone.

“Can I help you” I muttered, a little intimidated by his rant.

He put his phone away and looked straight at me. His charming smile immediately put me at ease.

“You just can’t get the staff these days” he joked.

I giggled sweetly, I didn’t want to let my usual embarassing laugh ruin our first encounter. After all he was gorgeous and I was always hopeful.

“I’m a great employee” I goofily replied. As soon as I had said it my face turned a bashful shade of pink as I realised what a stupid and unnecessary comment I had just made.

However he humoured me and politely responded “I’m sure you are”.

“Just a dry cut?” I questioned as I tried to hide my embarrassment.

I sat him down, tied the gown around his neck and began to snip at his perfect, if somewhat overgrown hair. Watching him in the mirror gave me an opportunity to subtly stare at him. All of a sudden he looked up and we made eye contact. I looked down awkwardly but he just casually smiled at me and carried on reading ‘Men’s Health’.

“Is there any chance I could get the great employee’s number? In case I want to take her out” he asked after he had finished paying.

“I suppose I could pencil you into my busy schedule” I replied and handed him my business card along with a cheeky smile.

A few days later he called me, we had our first date and that’s where it all started.

Two and a half years later he whisked me off on an unexpected weekend break to Paris and took me out for a romantic meal.

“Millie will you marry me?” He asked as I was sipping on a glass of champagne.

I was taken aback but managed to swallow my drink before I answered, “Of course I will Liam”.

He pulled out the biggest diamond I had ever seen, I beamed at him while he placed it on my finger.

I had never expected to find some one like him, not plain old me. I guess that’s just the way it works. I had found my soul mate, the only man for me and I had never been happier.

Ever since I was a little girl I had been dreaming of my perfect wedding. I was really excited about the ceremony we had planned on a beach in the Bahamas, with my perfect dress and all my family and friends around me. It was a shame my dream never came true.

I then snapped out of my day dream as I heard the front door open and his briefcase hit the laminate flooring. His footsteps paced the stairs and the bedroom door opened. He crashed out on the bed, still in his suit. He looked tired but I was just pleased to see him.

Then he turned to me with a solemn look, took me in his hands and declared,

“I love you Millie and miss you so much. I’m so sorry for what happened, I never meant to crash the car that night. I will never forgive myself for killing you”.

I wanted to hold him and tell him everything was alright and that I don’t blame him for the accident. I wanted to tell him that I missed him too and that I would never stop loving him. Yet I couldn’t, it was impossible. I was just a photograph confined to the parallels of the photo frame on his bedside table, watching over him from day to day. Since the night of the car crash that tragically took me from him I was now only a mere memory in his head and an ache in his heart.

Proposal in Paris

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment