21 November 2021

Shift


Ever wanted to do something different? When life becomes a routine, step out of the ordinary and follow your dreams. Shift follows a white-collar worker who escapes the confines of his working environment, exploring and dancing freely through the outside world.

Award winning Director Patrick Ryder and renowned creative director and choreographer Del Mak team up to create and direct this inspirational narrative based dance short film. Shift stars Renako McDonald famed for achieving runner's up position on Got To Dance, UK and Ireland's biggest reality TV talent dance show as contemporary couple act 'Alleviate'.

Caminandes: Two Very Funny Llama Dramas


Caminandes is about as hapless a llama as you are ever likely to meet.  Yet through adversity our Patagonian friend makes it through – often by the skin of his teeth.    Of course, in the spirit of classic animation, you have to root for the guy! The first episode is above but I do have to say that the new episode below is my favorite of the two! Both episodes are Open Movies produced by the Blender Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Stingray


Struggling novelist Kurt endures a painful and unsuccessful pitch at the hands of a pair of publishers. He seeks refuge in his local aquatic design store only to receive ill-advice from the resident Stingray. Bemused but not swayed he attempts to connect with a nearby pretty young teacher.

This short black comedy stars Mat Horne (Gavin & Stacey), Andy Serkis (King Kong, Lord of the Rings), Dominic West (The Wire, 300), Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz) and Kate Isitt (Coupling). It was directed by Neil Chordia and written by Charlie Gee.

Salina Turda: Romania’s Amazing Salt Mine turned Museum

The historic region of Transylvania has long been associated with vampires. Yet there is something in Transylvania which predates even the legends of blood-sucking fiends: salt mining has been going on in the area since Roman times.

Salina Turda is an ancient and wondrous example of a salt mine, now a museum and center for halotherapy - with a distinctively modern twist.

Yet as well as the preservation of historic mining facilities, Salina Turda holds some unexpected pleasures. It now looks as much like the lair of a James Bond villain as a salt mine – albeit a very playful Bond villain.

Out of Bounds


Paul 179 is a goldfish – the latest in a series owned by a young man with Aspergers.

He is determined to keep this latest fish alive but when the fish food runs out and its replacement is delivered to the wrong house he must venture out of doors.  This is a charming and unique little story by students at The Animation Workshop.

17 November 2021

Some Tips on How to Find a Good Online Casino to Play in Canada

The first step of gambling online in Canada is choosing the best casino that will offer a smooth flawless experience. There are thousands of online casinos to choose from but a huge fraction is not worth your time. Some of them are only aimed at stealing your money while others offer very poor-quality services that can be regretful. Here are tips that will assist you to find a good online casino to play in Canada.

The online casino industry is a multibillion-dollar industry and everyone seems to want a piece of the cake. This is why these sites come with enticing offers such as casino free spins and other bonuses that attract new players. Even though they are so tempting, they should never make you forget the things that matter. Let us take a step-by-step approach to choose a good online casino.

Choose Only Eligible Casinos

This is the simplest consideration to make when choosing an online casino. These casinos usually have restrictions so you should select a casino that accepts Canadian players. Luckily, Canada is not one of the strict jurisdictions that illegalize online gambling. Therefore, you can find several top casinos that work there.

These casinos can go beyond just the eligibility by offering tailor-made products for the residents of your country. These could be in the form of bonuses. Also, while considering the eligibility, it is important to check the languages and currencies supported. A casino that supports English and/or French would be ideal for Canadian players.

If it supports the currency, it would save you from unnecessary conversion costs that will reduce your gambling cash. The payment methods should also be convenient for you. This basic step will assist you to filter several casinos on the web that are not suitable for you.

Create Your Specifications

Looking around for an online casino is the same as shopping for a phone, a car, or any other thing. Before you go looking for the best, you must first figure out exactly what you want. It is necessary to know your priority areas and refuse to compromise on them. The main factors to consider include the following:

  • Game Variety & Software Providers;

  • Customer Service;

  • Mobile or Desktop;

  • Licensing Info;

  • Bonus Features;

Let us take a look at each of these factors in detail.

Take a Look at Game Variety

Online casinos offer an extensive variety of games, which range from slot machines, table games, video poker, and live dealer games. However, not all of them pay attention to each of these types. Slots usually dominate their portfolios so you will rarely have a problem in this sector unless you want specific slots from a specific software provider.

The problem is usually in the rest of the categories. The live dealer games currently offer the epitome of casino gambling entertainment but only the top casinos can afford to offer them. Hence, you must know your gaming preferences and ensure that you choose a casino that has all that you need.

The software providers are another consideration to make. Many providers mean that there will be a massive collection of diverse games. Also, it is vital to check the providers and make sure that they are trustworthy. Only games from reputable providers can be proven fair and secure. This is the first consideration to make when trying to decide what you want.

Pay Attention to Customer Service

Customer service is another important factor when choosing a casino. You should choose a casino that has great customer support in your language of choice. Live chat is currently the most preferable because it allows you to communicate directly from the website at no additional cost. It is also quite fast. The other avenues like email or phone should also be open if you prefer them.

The time that customer service is available is another priority area. Since the casino may have its headquarters away from Canada, it should have 24/7 customer support to ensure that you can get assistance whenever you need it.

Choose Mobile or Desktop

Does the casino have a mobile version or is it desktop only? If you are planning to play on your mobile, then the casino should have a mobile casino. It is inconvenient to be forced to find a different casino for playing on the go. This is a very important factor to consider. Besides, the casino should be compatible with the mobile phone that you own. Luckily, most of them work well with iOS and Android phones, which are currently the most popular worldwide.

Read Licensing Info

The best casinos have licenses from respectable bodies. If you trust casinos with a particular license, you should pick one that possesses it. The most trusted licensing bodies include the following:

  • UK Gambling Commission;

  • Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta;

  • Gibraltar Licensing and Regulatory Authority;

  •  Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority;

  •  Alderney Gaming Control Commission;

  •  Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

In addition to the licenses, you can find other certifications like eCOGRA that further ascertain the quality of a casino. Online casinos may have one or more of the licenses above. It is important to know the kind of license that you want your preferred casino to have.

Pay Attention to Bonus Features

It is crucial to know the kind of bonuses that tickle your fancy. If you love free offers, then you should pick the no deposit bonuses. If you are a slots lover, then no deposit free spins will be fantastic for you. You should know the kind of bonuses and the terms and conditions that are favorable to you. This will assist you to make a perfect choice.

These are the main factors that will lead you to what you want. Once you know what you want, it gets easier to pick an ideal casino.

Make the Research

You should read interesting for you information about casinos and then visit only those sites that suit your specifications. It is not very easy but the expert reviews can be quite helpful. They tend to summarize the key features making it easy to find what you want. Also, you should go to the comments of real players and avoid casinos that have genuine complaints about major issues. Some review sites may also be biased for various reasons so you should ensure that you only trust the reputable ones.

The shortcut of this step is talking to your gambler friends and finding out about their experiences with various online sites. This could easily lead you to a fantastic site.

Try and Test the Casinos

By the time you get to this step, you may have a shortlist of casinos that seem to meet your specifications. Hence, it is easy to simply go to them and test all their important elements. The first step is to move through the site and check whether the organization of the games and the overall outlook attract you. You can also check how well it works on your desktop and mobile phone.

You can also try the available games. Fortunately, the top casinos offer free games that can be played without registration, deposit, or download. Hence, you can proceed to play them. This will give you a glimpse of the experience in this casino and any red flags would be visible at this point.

Another element that is worth trying is customer support. You can proceed to ask them questions and check the FAQ sections for areas that you do not understand. The professionalism and the promptness of the responses will tell you whether the casino is as promising as it seems.

It is also vital to check the payment options and withdrawal times. This info should be available on the site. However, if it is not, feel free to ask customer care in person. Here are the factors to consider when checking the deposit and withdrawal options:

Deposits

Withdrawal

Should be instant

Should take reasonable periods

A variety of methods should be supported

A variety of methods should be supported

Ease of making deposits

Ease of making withdrawal requests and low pending time

Deposit limits

Withdrawal limits and conditions

The bonuses involved

Possible casino interest rate

Lastly, you can proceed to the Bonuses and Promos section to check what the casino offers. It is also important to check the terms and conditions for all you need to know about these promos.

Sign Up and Start Playing

Once you find your ideal casino, you can proceed to sign up and play. However, the vetting process is not over. If you find the sign-up process a bit too much, then you can always back out at this point. You may also proceed to claim the no deposit bonuses once you are ready to deposit cash and play.

Finally, loyalty is useless in the gambling realm, so you should not shy away from signing up in another casino to check what they offer. You can keep signing up and enjoying the bonuses until you get the best casino to play in Canada.

This is an excellent guide with strong tips on how to find a good online casino to play in Canada. Following them keenly will certainly get you the best. 


14 November 2021

Machu Picchu: Diverse Perspectives

For most people, this view is the one most associated with Machu Picchu, the broad mountainous prominence dotted with ancient buildings, sharp peaks towering above them.  It is little wonder this place is the most instantly recognizable icon of Inca civilization for so many. Yet a closer look gives a greater insight in to how it must have felt to live there, its thick stone walls echoing to the sounds of everyday life. Take a look at Machu Picchu from different perspectives.

Machu Picchu
The walls are perhaps the most remarkable thing about the place.  They are known as dry stone and as such there was no mortar holding them together.  Their structural integrity came entirely from the forces of compression and the way that the stones interlock with each other.  At Machu Picchu this interlocking is an art from in itself. 

Roommate Wanted - Dead or Alive


If you have ever been a student then you have probably had to face the prospect of living with strangers in order to afford a place to live and all its associated expenses. So it is with this medical student in this entertaining short by students of the Animation Workshop. Yet smelly socks and untidiness are the least of this medical student’s problems when his prospective roommate turns out to be a zombie.

How Will The Universe End?


Science should be big, bright, bold and engaging – and you are going to find this video by Beakus all of those and more. It asks the question that, at some point or another, many of us ask – when is the universe going to end?

Fortunately the answer is not tomorrow or indeed the day after. Created for the Royal Observatory Greenwich this is science and art in blissful union.

A Strange Young Man: A Short Film about Autism


Erdem is the strange young man of this short film’s title.  Or, at least that’s how the rest of the world sees him.  Erdem himself lives in a world which amuses, perplexes but regularly frightens him.

Yet he navigates this bewildering array of sights and sounds with the help of his intimate knowledge of Hollywood movies (and see if you can get all the references!). 

We follow him through the course of his daily journey to class at the Autism Orientation Center.  Unsurprisingly, this film won both first place and the Audience Favorite Award at the Cinema Touching Disability Film Festival 2014 in Austin, Texas. It is in Turkish with English subtitles but please, please don’t let that put you off watching this remarkable short film directed by the very talented Emre Sert and Gözde Yetişkin.

Gea and Fossils


Don’t be put off by the rather uninspiring title.  This is, quite simply, the best educational animation I have seen for an age.  It’s about fossils and introduces us to Gea who has an inventor uncle (don't we all?).

He sends her a package and she finds Zum (pronounced Zoom), a flying robot designed to assist in the cataloguing of fossils.   Unfortunately, Zoom knows nothing about them so it’s up to Gea to show him the ropes – and the complete history of fossils. This explains the length of this animated short but believe me, the time will zoom by.

This animation is wholly delightful in as much as it makes what can be quite a difficult subject wholly accessible if not entertaining. It was created by Render Area, a visual effects, 3D animation digital production company based in Spain for Museo Geominero in Madrid. They have thrown the animation equivalent of the kitchen sink at this piece with so many different techniques used to form the whole.

So, if you happen to have a kid rampaging around your house at the moment (or one who is staring listlessly at the ceiling) who also happens to be fascinated by dinosaurs and how they came to be fossilised, plonk him or her down in front of this.  You will have peace and quiet for almost exactly half an hour.

10 November 2021

Times are changing in California as technology ushers in the dawn of sports betting


Betting on sports has been a practice enjoyed by people for thousands of years. Early forms of gambling didn’t resemble the industry we know today, with bets placed in accordance with strict laws at land-based casinos or overseas sportsbooks. Records mention wagers placed on the early Olympic Games in ancient Greece. It’s not difficult to imagine people making predictions on events involving humans or animals before that.

In many countries around the world, betting on professional sport is legal, with bookmakers licensed and regulated at government level. The United Kingdom is considered to be the spiritual home of the modern gambling industry. Independent bookmakers like William Hill and Joe Coral accepted bets on horse races and greyhound races at track. These men were pioneers of sports betting, building their businesses and evolving to become William Hill and Coral, two of the biggest names in the sports betting market.

It’s not just residents in Great Britain that can enjoy a gamble on their favourite horse race, Premier League football team or boxing match. The industry is growing and evolving, spreading to new areas of the globe thanks to online betting. Canada and the United States recently lifted their long-running restriction on gambling, creating excitement. California is just one of the US states pushing for betting to be legalised, and it looks like this could happen as early as 2022. Several California sportsbooks are already waiting in the wings to act on these proposed changes to the law.


Bookies are ready to act

The biggest names in the sportsbook gambling sector are prepared to act, bringing betting to Californians at the earliest opportunity. They won’t be coming from a standing start either. The leading bookies from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe are planning an attack on the Golden State. They have already gained a foothold in neighbouring states that acted quicker than California to legalise betting.

Bookies are prepared for the starter’s gun. They have offices in place, their target audience set out, the promotions and free bets they plan to offer new customers and a list of the sports and competitions that will be popular in the state. This is nothing new to them. They know what works and precisely what bettors want to entice them to register for an online betting account then start wagering on the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other world-famous leagues.

When California legalises sports betting in the state, they won’t be the first to do so. Far from it. We’ve seen many regions move much quicker, including New Jersey, the first to remove that ban on betting. Doing so has resulted in a number of benefits, not least the huge increase in taxes generated from allowing bookies to trade in the area.

Pros far outweigh the cons

The positives far out-weight the negatives, and governors in Cali, New York and other major states are beginning to realise this. They know allowing betting apps to trade in the state and hitting them hard in taxes could help speed up the post-pandemic recovery. The dated laws regarding banning have also become a bit of a joke. They were written to ban people visiting land-based underground betting dens. At the time, there wasn’t an option or even an idea that one day residents could gamble through an overseas sportsbook using their home computer or smartphone, something many have been doing under the radar for years.

With sections of the population taking advantage of online betting and loopholes in the laws, gambling with bookies from the UK and Europe, it means US states were missing out on the taxes while betting was ungoverned in the state. The aim is to change all that, legalising betting, submitting a set of modern rules that bettors and bookies must abide by then ramping up the taxes. The top betting firms are so desperate for access to an untouched market, a new oil well of bettors, that they are happy to pay over the odds for the privilege.

Nothing has been decided yet, and the bill to legalise betting in California will be debated and decided on later in 2022. The early signs are promising for those in support as citizens and betting firms apply pressure to those in charge.

Both images used under Google Images Creative Commons Licence

7 November 2021

On Scaffolded Descriptive Writing for GCSE English Language 9-1

Paper 1 Question 5 in the AQA GCSE English Language exam is worth 40 marks.  Put that in to a percentage and it’s worth 25% of the qualification.  So it’s vital that learners do well on this question.

Here, grandmother, suck on this egg… 

There is a however, of course (isn't there always?).  The however in this particular instance is that it is often quite difficult to give students a feeling of almost immediate success when approaching this question - this is a long-haul situation. The faint-hearted can give up almost before they begin. Not only that, a number of students have developed some very fixed ideas about what makes a descriptive text - I teach in FE - and quite often it bears only a passing resemblance to what examiners are looking for (at least in order to award it good marks!).

So I wanted to do something to address this. I did a little research (OK, I used a search engine) and found that some teachers were giving their students scaffolded writing tasks, at least for the first paragraph of a descriptive piece.  Here is an excellent article (the best I found, to be honest) on The Learning Profession blog about how scaffolded descriptive writing openings can work brilliantly.  The rest of this post details my journey from this point - it isn't advice about how to teach this part of the syllabus, it's simply about how I developed my ideas about scaffolding and how I then went on to embed it in my classes.

6 November 2021

Hazed


Do you remember the story of the scorpion and the fox? Sometimes things are simply in your nature. So, what happens if you happen to be a factory, belching out smoke and noxious fumes? If you have anything approaching a heart then you might begin to feel a little guilty about what you are doing to the environment, despite the fact that it is what, essentially, you were created to do.

So it is with this animated short by Matt Hammill. Hazed was initially created as his grad film from Sheridan College. One thing before you click play – make sure to watch this to the very end, you may not quite get what you were expecting! We guarantee that you will laugh, however!

How does a Neurotransmitter work?


This is an animated film for people who want to learn more about the chemistry of our emotions in a humorous and entertaining way.

Take a journey through the human brain and experience the fantastic world of neurotransmitter.

Neurotransmitter was created by Katharina Petsche.

Koi No Yokan - 恋の予感


Koi No Yokan (恋の予感) is one of those Japanese sayings for which there is no real English equivalent.    It isn’t about love at first sight it is more a trust in the inevitability of love when you first meet someone – a presentiment if you like.   There is no implication that the feeling of love exists just that a union is inexorable. Directed by Kevin Chiu it follows a pair of New Yorkers just as koi no yokan kicks in. 

A la Française


Versailles in 1700 and the court is in full swing – yet something is not quite what you might expect.  Yet even in this fowl world, the court recorder doesn’t miss a thing but the balance of courtly life can be upset by nothing more than a gust of wind.  An entertaining Supinfocom graduation short by four of their brightest - Julien Hazebroucq, Emmanuelle Leleu , Morrigane Boyer, William Lorton and Ren Hsien Hsu.

The Sky Blue Mushroom


It looks like it could be something offered to Alice just before she makes a journey in to Wonderland but this sky blue mushroom is not a product of the imagination of Lewis Caroll.  It can be found on both islands of New Zealand – and bizarrely enough in a few places in India.

Amung Feedjit
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