Although they can be fiddly to create, many of us recognise that the return on a properly isolated image makes it worth the extra time we need to spend on our computers. While some of us have lights and backgrounds, I’m confident there are a significant number of people, myself included, who rely on an overcast day for photographing objects and who paint in a 255 background by hand.
It can be difficult to pick an audio book to listen to. You’ve only got what is written in the back to guide you whereas with a normal book you can read the first page and get an idea of the style of writing. Look out for books read by actors who have theatre experience – an audio book really hinges on how well it is read.
Audio books also offer a great chance to “read” all of those classics you’ve never quite found the time to sit down and read. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen all become that bit easier when you don’t have to wade through the prose yourself; plus you’ll be able to impress people at dinner parties by talking about all the highbrow books you’ve read.
TOP TIP: Always go for unabridged versions of books where possible. If you see something you like and they’ve only got an abridged version, ask the librarian if they can get a copy in for you.
2. European Radio Stations – http://listenlive.eu
Music streaming services like Spotify or We7 can get pretty repetitive when you have to create your own 8 hour playlist and listening to the same radio station every day makes you want to nail the composers of some of the adverts to the wall.
Now, thanks to the interweb, we no longer have to confine our music listening based on our geography. The Listen Live website provides a direct link to the stream of every radio station in Europe, including Radio San Merino and Vatican FM. I am very partial to Radio Liechtenstein.
You’ll hear a great mix of songs you know and songs by artists who have, criminally in some cases, not found popularity beyond their own borders while the news bulletins and adverts become much less invasive when you can’t understand them. It will take months to listen to them all.
TOP TIP: Think about your time zone in relation to the radio station. Drive time and morning shows often have a lot of talking on them – try a radio station from the next time zone along if you prefer music.
3. The BBC iplayer –
Disappointingly, video playback is only available to those in the UK but the iplayer is not just about TV, radio programming is available to everybody: even you Johnny Foreigner!
Have an explore around the radio section of the site and you’ll find a wealth of excellent radio programming available on demand. There are great British institutions like The Archers, Desert Island Discs or Gardeners Question Time. There are radio plays of Terry Pratchett books or episodes of Dads Army as well as a wide selection of original comedy programming.
It’s important to keep an eye on how long a program will be available for and when the next instalment is put up but there’s a lot here to listen to, all from the comfort of your keyboard.
TOP TIP: Check the length of the programs you are going to listen to. Stopping to find something new every half an hour will really disturb your work pattern. Find several things you want to listen to in a row so when one has finished, you can go on to the next with only the minimum break in your concentration.
4. 4OD –
The channel you want to watch if BBC HQ disappears into the sea now also allows you to watch their programming online and, unlike the BBC, Johnny Foreigner can watch it too!
Granted, a television screen is not the most understated thing you can have open on your desktop, but I find a drama or comedy show I’ve already watched chortling quietly in the background works well.
The site isn’t as easy to browse as the BBC site (there’s no “if you like this…” button) and not everything is available to watch, but international visitors will be able to find episodes of American imports such as Desperate Housewives and Glee to watch. The best bit though? Father Ted is there. All of it.
TOP TIP: If you are a little lost finding things to watch, have a look at the TV listings of the E4 channel. It’s the place you’ll find things like stand-up comedy and other yoof orientated programming aimed at people who are staring at their mobile phones rather than the telly.