The News

Burns Night app on iTunes New & Noteworthy front page

With January 25th less than two weeks away, our Burns Night app has become a hit! From one iTunes download to nearly four thousand in a few short days, we could hardly have hoped for such an overwhelming response. Much of this is no doubt due to a mention in Guardian blogger Stuart Dredge’s Apps Rush roundup, and then to getting on to the title screen of the iTunes app store under ‘New & Noteworthy’. Woo-hoo! (It's also on iTunes US and on Android)

Exposure aside, we’re happy that we could include such stellar content. The app includes Burns songs from acclaimed Scottish singers Annie Grace, Karine Polwart and Corrina Hewat, and a rousing performance of Tam o’ Shanter from Herald Angel winner Aly Macrae.

Developers Spot Specific built us a compass to point to Burns’ birthplace, which you can use during your Burns Supper toast to the Bard’s Immortal Memory, and an autocue in case you need prompting when you try reciting Tam o’ Shanter for yourself.

For those who didn’t realise how popular Burns is around the world, we included some voices of non-Scots too. We now discover that no less than the King of Pop himself was a fan! It seems that Michael Jackson recorded his own version of several top Burns songs, and there will be donations to the Burns Birthplace Museum from the proceeds. Thriller, claims David Gest, was at least partly inspired by Tam o' Shanter.

For anyone throwing their own party or, going to a Burns Supper or otherwise commemorating Burns Night, the app is rich with history, music and poetry. The new update also allows you to tweet our very own @Burns_Night with your interpretations of his poetry, to translate lines of Auld Lang Syne in whatever language takes your fancy (be it indigenous, fictitious or intergalactic), and to tell the world what Burns means to you. So “hope springs exulting on a triumphant wing” for all at Saraband today.

Panda: Back from the Brink is BBC WIldlife's Book of the Month

We’ve just learned that the editors of BBC Wildlife Magazine have named Panda: Back from the Brink as their Book of the Month for their February issue, saying: “Astonishing photos of giant pandas in their native habitat grace an absorbing overview… [it] is a fitting tribute to these global mascots of conservation”.

Outdoor Photography’s editor also gives it the thumbs up in their February 2012 issue: "Featuring wonderful images by Zhou Mengqi – taken at the famous Wolong research centre and in the wilds of the magnificent Qionglai Mountains, in the Sichuan region of China – and insightful text covering their history, behaviour and the conservation effort around them, this book feels like the complete story."

Panda: Back From the Brink is now the number one best seller at Edinburgh Zoo (on sale from their online shop). Pandas are a hot topic at the moment. As France’s Vincennes Zoo acquires two bears of their own, Edinburgh’s Tian Tian and Yang Guang have settled in nicely, though a dose of colic has meant one of our furry friends has had to take a few days rest from entertaining the public. Get well soon Yang Guang!

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