Danny Westhorpe, 23, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

WorthAWatch Updates! TheQuad Competition! Newgrounds Re-Design!

Thought I'd swing by this neck of the woods and talk about three sites that I regularly frequent these days, all of which have had a bunch of interesting stuff happening lately. The firsts my own, WorthAWatch.net. The second is my universities independent online newspaper, TheQuad.org.uk. Lastly is Newgrounds.com, which I've been visiting for close to a decade now.

First up, WorthAWatch. The sites been coming along nicely since my last post and the designs pretty much complete bar a few tweaks. As far as reviews go, there starting to take shape too. I've got another guy on board, Jessy, to do a few for me and hopefully he'll stay on and continue contributing when the site launches. I'm cranking them out pretty regularly as well and we should have at least fifty done between us before it goes live. After that I'll keep publishing them a few times a week and I'll be looking to get another writer or two to join the site as well.

A month or two after Version 1 is finished I intend to start work on Version 2. It'll be pretty identical in terms of layout and design but offer much more in the way of user interactivity. I've got a script developed to track every review posted and allow viewers to comment on them and add their own rating/review. All in all things are starting to take shape nicely and I'm happy with the progress being made. Especially since I'm juggling this with work, university assignments and regular trips to whatever boozer I happen to be near at the time.

Second on the list is TheQuad. They've got a competition running at the minute to win an iPod touch for the best article submitted (see http://www.thequad.org.uk/news/journalism-competition-win-an-ipod-touch/ for details).

The websites only been online for a few months now but there's some great content up, especially if you're from the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne area or Northumbria university itself. Articles range from sports entries (covering local teams right up the mighty toon army themselves) to information about what's going on in the area (music gigs, local pub and bar reviews, special one-off events, etc) and weekly columns on a variety of subjects. There's some really talented writ...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on February 17th 2012.

Newest Project - WorthAWatch!

Apologies again for the lack of updates recently, but December and January have been extremely busy months. What with Christmas, New Year, work and university I’ve been doing a lot recently and as such, the blogs had to take a back seat. However, I’ve finally decided to put everything to one side for an hour or so and get a new entry online. The timing couldn’t be better either, because I’m finally able to announce my latest project – WorthAWatch.net.

I think I might have mentioned it in a post a few months back, but not by name because there was still a bit of secrecy about it. Since its part of my degree I’ve got to be careful about what I post online and what-not. But because were drawing ever closer to April when it’ll have to go live, I figure now’s a good as time as any to start drumming up a bit of publicity.

So, as part of my degree I’m required to put together a dissertation like substitute relating to the field of journalism. This could be a magazine, newspaper, radio broadcast, etc. Something that can clearly be linked to journalism e.g. a website. Since I’ve had a fair amount of experience creating them I decided to opt for the easy option where I could concentrate more on the content than on learning new skills necessary to create say, an entire newspaper. And so the idea for WorthAWatch was born. I’ve always liked the idea of having a film review website, since these days I seem to spend a lot of my time sat around watching them. The DVD collections rapidly nearing 700 titles and I think it’s time I turned those hours of entertainment into something.

The site will focus on primarily positive reviews of films. Movies will be split into one of ten categories, meaning visitors can search a particular category for a film they like the look of, or search for a title directly. At the minute it’s going to start out pretty basic. Interactivity will be limited at the beginning because the focus of this project (as far as the marking board are concerned) is the content. Meaning rather than pouring hours of work into complex PHP code I’ll be sat with Microsoft Office open instead, trying to sum up just how exceptional The Shawshank Redemption really is.

However, once the university side of things is over I intent to keep the project going, and it’s here that things start getting interesting. With my studies finished I’ll be able to spend some time m...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on January 25th 2012.

Cult TV - Joss Whedon's Firefly (2002)

Apologies for the lack of updates recently. It's December which means things start getting a bit hectic. University assignments are due in throughout the month, the Christmas rush means more shifts at work, not to mention getting my own shopping done and out the way.

Speaking of assignments, I've just finished one and thought I might as well share it online. In it I discuss Cult Television and Film, focusing in particular on Joss Whedon's fantastic Space-Western, Firefly. If you've not seen it already I'd recommend checking it out. It really is a fantastic piece of viewing and it's a real shame that it was cancellation after just the one season. You can pick the complete box set up pretty cheaply these days (Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com) and it's definitely worth a look.

Anyway, on with the piece.

To what extent does Cult TV, in particular Joss Whedon’s Firefly (2002), challenge the general conventions of mainstream programming and differ itself accordingly?

Firefly was an American television series created, written and directed by Joss Whedon. It premiered in September 2002, on the Fox network channel. The show was defined as a “space western” and “typical Whedon”, and received high praise from fans and critics alike. Despite this Firefly was cancelled after just one season, with only eleven of the already produced fourteen episodes having aired. Fox cited low viewing figures for the reason behind this. In contrast however, Firefly went on to have a hugely successful DVD release and follow up movie, Serenity. The loyal fan base, mixed hybrid of genres and subsequent media franchise make Firefly a typical cult programme that sets itself aside from other, more mainstream shows.

One of the first things viewers picked up on when Firefly originally broadcast was the unique genre the show fell under. At the time Space Western was considered a fairly unheard of classification, with one of the few notable exceptions being the hugely popular and successful, Star Trek series. However, Firefly manages to set itself apart in comp...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on December 08th 2011.

Newcastle United – Where's It All Gone Right?

A group of Journalism students at my place of study have set up an independent online newspaper focusing on issues in and around the university and the general Newcastle Upon-Tyne area. Feel free to head on over to the thequad.org.uk and check it out. I'm hoping to get a few stories published in the coming months, but in the meantime there's still plenty of interesting stuff to read.

I thought I'd post my first piece here, in the hope of getting a bit of constructive criticism before I start submitting things regularly. So, if you're a fan of football, in particular Newcastle United F.C, give it a read and let me know what you think!

Newcastle United – Where's It All Gone Right?

I can only imagine that amongst the thousands of students currently enrolled at Northumbria University, a good proportion of those are fans of football, and more specifically, fans of Newcastle United. Most students coming from up and down the country probably choose their university based on things like academic results, course structure and lesson plans. But I’m willing to bet a small percentage (myself included) picked Northumbria University simply because it was the closest place of study to St. James Park, and the mighty Toon Army.

After the heartbreak of relegation two seasons ago and the endless days thereafter of drowning ones sorrows, Newcastle United enjoyed a successful promotion campaign, finishing top of the Championship in the ‘09/’10 season, with a mouth-watering 102 points.

So, back in the Premier League they followed that up with a respectable twelfth place finish thanks in no small part to the likes of super-striker Andy Carroll and midfield-maestros Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. Having sold all three players in the January and Summer transfer windows, Newcastle United F.C seemed to be heading for troubling times. How could they compete in the world’s best division having offloaded arguably their trio of best players?

Few pundits expected the black and whites to still be in the Premier League come May and those that did expected them to be stuck in a relegation battle from day one (not helped by an opening league game against the once mighty Arsenal). As ever though, the Geordie’s remained faithful and their loyalty has undoubtedly paid off. With a qua...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on November 14th 2011.

PlayStation 2 Vs. Next Gen Gaming (360/PS3/Wii)

Despite it being released over a decade ago I'm still happily rocking out on the original PS2. Rather than follow the masses and upgrade to a PS3 or try my hand at a new console like the Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii, my first true love was and remains Sony's second attempt at console gaming. Although I've owned a 360 in the past and played both the PS3 and Wii, I've had little to no desire to switch to a much more capable and expensive seventh generation console. While there are several obvious drawbacks to my money-saving scheme, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives.

Brand new games have never been cheap. They generally retail around the £40 mark when first released and it's a minimum of several months before the price starts to drop. As the months turn to years the prices continue to drop and before you know it that kick-ass game you paid £40 for is worth a couple of quid in trade. With the PS2, this isn't the case anymore. The console was released over a decade ago now and shops are trying to offload stock by selling games for as little as £1. It's rare to see a PlayStation 2 game these days going for anything more than a crisp five pound note. Head on over to Amazon and you can grab them even cheaper, with multiple merchants selling them for a single, shiny penny.

Of course the downside to this is that you're no longer getting the new releases. Other than a few sports games by EA, developers aren't catering to the PS2 any more due to lack of interest. Although it's frustrating not being able to play the new Gears of War or Modern Warfare 3, there's still an awesome backlog of games you've yet to play and their available at a fraction of the price of the hugely overrated new Call of Duty. Instead of shelling out your hard earned cash on the latest release, why not do a little research and pick up something a little more old-school for less than the price of a pint? Games like Second Sight, Disaster Report, Killer 7, XIII and Beyond Good and Evil slipped under the radar when first released. But that's not to say they won't give you an excellent gaming experience at a fraction of the cost you're used to paying.

Speaking of cost, online play is definitely a plus that next-gen gaming has over older consoles. Unfortunately as is life, it's a plus you've got to pay for. Xbox LIVE will cost you £40 a year to get online with “points” costing anywhere from £10 to £35. So if you're the owner of a 360 and want to play onlin...

Posted by Danny Westhorpe on October 31st 2011.

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