Jan 11

Creative Zen PMC – number 2

my replacment PMC is working very well up to now..at least it’s passed the 30 day mark which is more than the first 1. Subscribing to a few feeds via iPodder gives me some great random videos from all over the web -keeps me entertained onthe commute home. Just have to be careful to remove the random blue movie that creeps in…..especially before taking it home and letting the young cousins play with it 😉

Jan 11

Games

Being playing CSI games on the PC (yea for New Year sales) and whilst the gameplay gets so boring after about the second case, the attraction for me is definitely the story – who did it and why…and watching the forst series of CSI on re-run can definitely see where the dialog on the game comes from. But it’s far better when there’s action on screen instead of static graphics

Jan 09

Special Effects Poll – surprise wins

Saw this survey via BBC and it does not surprise me…the favourite special effect shot in films os the 1977 opening Star Wars shot of the Imperial Star Destroyer coming into view. This was followed by the 1933 King Kong climax. Six out of the top 10 are older than 20 years old. So, its not the money or the slickness of the effect that has proven to be a winner. To me, it’s the memorability – doing something that has not been done, that makes people stop and just go ‘oooooohhh’ (or whatever words you want to say here!)

So good effects enhance the storytelling and add something new – they are not just effects for their own sake, as you can see quite often in modern films.

Jan 09

Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians…

During the week I’ve watched the increasing opposition to the BBC screening Jerry Springer the Opera on BBC2 last night. In a way the protests made me want to watch it even more – what is all the fuss about. People who had seen the show on stage generally reported that they enjoyed it; although the swearing was mentioned, the blasphamy was never covered. Of the 2 areas, it seemed that the comments about Christianity were causing the most offence. However, this is the first time I’d heard these types of comments even though the show has been on stage for a while – so why is putting it on TV any different. There is still on off button – you don’t have to watch.

We don’t have free speech enshrined in any constitution as the US does; in fact, as a nation, we have practised censorship for many years. One of the weirder aspects of the Lord Chamberlain’s job! The BBC are as guilty of doing such things in the past, eg Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Relax in the ’80’s. But times change, standards change and the BBC, as the public service, has to change with it.

Was I offended by the show? Not really. Most of the swearing was used as you would here in normal speach patterns and to quite good dramatic effect, just a few lines were too much for me personally (of course, having the subtitles on makes it more obvious!). Did the comments on Christianity upset me. No – but I’m a lapsed Catholic, not someone who would get upset. I got bored in the first half. I don’t watch these types of shows on TV, so a parody of them missed the mark with me a little. The second half I found had some really interesting commentary about forgiveness and morality, especially the ending lesson – look after yourself and others. This is as valid for the pople who are desparate to get on these shock shows as it is for all who are watching. Look after others and yourself. Very good philosophy.

And the post title..great line from the song about having a Jerry Springer moment. That, and wanting smacks form Moma, are definitely going to stick in the head.

Jan 05

Back to work

Work is back with a vengence. Yesterday was pretty quiet, just catching up with holiday stories; today – back to being full on with lots of stuff happening. Started off withthe boss calling at 8.40 and catching up for nearly an hour before moving into basically non-stop meetings and doc prep for until nearly 8. Lovely – when’s the next holiday?

Jan 03

Bank Holidays

On my last day of holiday before returning to work tomorrow, I’m having what could be called a typical Xmas Bank Holiday. Watching Zulu on the telly, drinking ice-cold Tanqueray and Tonic and perusing holiday brochures – the TV ads that started on Christmas day are getting to me at last. All I have to do now is choose where I want to go. I’m always tempted to go back to places I’ve been – I love Barbados for exmaple. But maybe I should try something different. One that has caught my eye is an activity holiday in Tuscany – the activity being the study of local food and wine – definitely my kind of holiday. So one weeek there and a scuba diving week later in the year (maybe the Maldives) is looking on the cards.

Jan 02

More site changes

Spent the morning re-organising some pages and uploading some more photos. The domain home page now has links to the family history pages plus my photos. Added some more Australian photos and some from New York, along 5th Avenue.

Still having trouble working my way round style sheets and divisions (instead of font tags and tables) but getting there.

Jan 01

It’s a new year

It’s a new year, time to look forward and time to reflect on the last year.

Like much of the world, I’m guessing, I’ve spent the last week watching the events around the Indian Ocean unfold, the numbers climbing and relatives’ hope diminishing. I’m now find myslef looking for good news on the web and on TV, about people being found, as it gets too much to only watch the bad news. I wish there were something I could offer apart from money, but that is what is being requested. I’m waiting til I’m back at work next week so the donation can be doubled through the company scheme.

Dec 15

New York

When I finally got there, after a 2 hour flight delay, had a great shopping time in New York. Graham Norton was also on the flight, looking completely chilled out; managed to get throguh immigration and customs extremely quickly, even with the new fingerprinting and eye checks. The Virgin Limo service was efficient, with minimal waiting and I finally got to Hinata’s at around 7.30. Far too tired to do much.

Next day first of all went downtown to Century 21, a great discount shop similar to TK Maxx and got me a new winter coat and boots, before coming back up and wandering down 5th Ave from 35th up to Central park. I love this walk; it’s something I tend to do most times I’m in the city, and this time it was fun with all the shop displays. I think Bergdorf’s was the best, even through it seemed to have the least number of people outside, far less than Saks. Saks was aimed at children, with cartoon like characters whereas Bergdorf’s was definitely an adult theme – my favourite was the Chocolate window, with a woman obviously enjoying herself surrounded by all these chocolate models. Had a nice meal at Artisan’s on 32nd St to close down the day.

Since then, lots of work and very little time. I may be staying an extra week – I’ll work that out later.

Dec 11

Saturdays

Another relative relaxing Saturday morning only marred by forgetting to switch the alarm off so that woke me at 6am!

Got all my washing drying done and then packed up for New York. And hte car’s just arrived early so have to rush – trying out Virgin for the first time.

Dec 09

Glut of DVDs

I’m still working my way through the first 2 series of Alias on DVD and now, tomorrow, the 4 Disc edition of The Return of the King comes out. So lots more things wo watch…it’ll keep me going through Christmas holidays. If I could only catch up with my podcasts…but Creative have still not replaced my PMC…mainly due to DHL not been able to pick the faulty one int he first place.

Dec 09

Christmas Parties

We had our team Christmas party yesterday. First of all, spent all day at a team meeting before going out and partying all night.

The day was all about project governance; the team all works in IS projects and this was the next step in making usre everyine is working in the same. I was prsenting for a section and nothing was a surprise, so it was a little boring. However, it apepared to have been less boring than most people were expecting – got good feedback about it. We only had a short day anyway, as we did not start until 10am

After this, we went to the hotel to get ready before the buses picked us up. There’s 24 in the team, so enough to have a good party atmosphere. We were in Milton Keynes and were due to party at the Milton Keynes Bowl, with one of the typical corporate evetns that take place around Christmas.

As usaul there was mixed efforts in the dress/style of the team, but most people were in party frocks or DJs. When we got to the place, it was done up a treat – a great marquee with Christmas lights and plenty of room. There were about 100 people in the place, and the theme (of the entertainment and decoration anyway) was of Russia.

The food was good, the wine was plentiful and the post-dinner entertainment was fun. They had fair rides – the Dodgems was brilliant. Spent some time playing blackjack and roulette before spending the rest of the evening dancing. I was good with the wine, although not every one was. We finally got back around 1.30, and some continued with the drinking. Me – I went to bed. There were plenty of sore heads this morning; this is when I felt good when having to face all of today meetings!.

Dec 05

IBM PCs

Interesting to see that IBM may be pulling out of the Personal PC market. (With link provided by Doc Searl). At work, we partner with IBM for all hardware and infrastructure requirements and are in the midst of a global rollout to replace everyone’s PC with a T42 Thinkpad. Let’s hope it gets finished in time if they are going to stop making them. Then I guess we will have the support issue where our contracted support partner no longer supports the hardware they have implemented. Lovely 😉

Dec 04

Daily Dose of Vegetables

Took a trip to the supermarket…nice new checkout girl in training, looking about 15 but obviously trying to be older. Confused her with my choice of vegetables and had to name corgettes and asparagus for her. She tried, but definitely needs a trip round the veg section to look at things that don;t come labled and barcoded.

Dec 04

Music and Downloads

How does this work then. On the one had the BBC reports that the UK album sales are up 3%, a record breaking year, and on the other hand reports that illegal downloads are costing the music industry £1.1bn. Are they trying to say that they would be having an even better year without downloads, or should we listen to BPI chairman Peter Jamieson who says: “The British record industry’s continued investment in new British talent is paying off” and that an industry is focusing on getting new talent instead of relying on manufactured acts. Or can I conclude that P2P sharing allows people to try new music and then go out and buy the album!

Dec 02

MSN and Blogging

Saw on the Scobleizer that MSN have moved into providing a blogging service – MSN Spaces. BuzzHit has a great review of the goods and bads. What’s fun at the moment is clicking on the continuous updated list of new spaces and seeing how many blogs are being set up…find a blog that has one of the lists and just follow the trail. At the moment, every new blog opened adds a ‘new’ one to the top of the list, so take up rate, or at least trying rate, looks fast. Even if most of them are along they lines of ‘MSN’s got a blog space – here’s mine’ 😉

But did find a good post from Tony with an intersting comment about the increasing number of offerings out there, with everyone trying to lock you into their service so that youy do not look elsewhere.

Dec 02

Why do I blog?

I love this, Frank Paynter’s collection of responses to Why do You Blog? I’ve been thinking about that as well, although with more of Who am I Blogging To twist to the question. And this survey definitely clarified where my head to at, in that it’s not who but why. For me, I’ve decided I blog to myself, as way of geting things down, of exploring thoughts and getting my head in order. Other people reading is a benefit, providing connections and being a small part in a global community.

Nov 29

The Ultimate Films

Over the weekend, caught a fair bit of Channel 4’s The Ultimate Film Top 100 Movies. Plenty of good clips and some surprising films. This was based on actual box office numbers and showed the high cinema attendence in the ’30’s and ’40’s. Of the top 10, I’ve only seen one of them at the cinema (Titanic), have seen Star Wars enough times on TV, plus DVD and The Sound of Music was a continous background to family Christmas’s all the time i was growing up, with the added soundtrack album. I’ve seen clips of the Jungle Book, Snow White and Gone with the Wind and that’s it.

So I need to go and find 7 films to see all the fuss is about – or was about. Got a feeling that some of the high attended films may not have survived.

Nov 29

Zen Portable Media Centre

Downloaded my mp3s/podcasts this morning to load them up for the commute. Got 2 minutes down the road and it just stopped. Looked at it and it was displaying a pretty generic, non-language based error screen that basically told me that the hard drive is shot, put it in it’s box and take it back to the shop – don’t pass go, don’t collect £200. So called on the support line who have now arranged to collect it and replace it with another (once I’ve dug up a receipt and prove I own it!). No fuss, no messing around – good support

So that’s a product I’ve had less than 30 days completely down the tubes. Let’s see how the next one is!

I’ve pulled off a very bad picture of the error page.
Zen_Error.jpg

Nov 28

Apple Store

I wandered down to the new Apple Store on Regents St at lunch time on Friday. I was strangely underwhelmed by it for some reason. I’ve never used a Mac and don’t have an iPod, so the first thing I did was walk round trying all the stuff. The layout is great, with plenty of machines set up – even thought there were many customers around, there was plenty of opportunities to try things. However, what I wanted was something to tell me what these machines did – there was nothing except a name lable, with no description of the features. I know I’m supposed to ask the store personnel, the shear number of them gave the game away but I prefer to shop on my own, not to be talked to – read, get some comparisons and then ask, not to have no information to start with. Alhtough I did spend a lot of time just wandering and playing – the design aspect is wonderful, especially on the speakers

On the iPod front, I’d never actually seen one in action, so played around and did not find them too intuitive. The wheel thing did not work for me, I’ll stick to my Creative Zen – i can play videos as well and controls were easy enough

Apart from the informatiom (lack of) aspect, the rest of the store is brilliant. The upstair lecture theatre with the wide ranging list of seminars, the peronsal tuition/Genious Bar (although it had a 5 hour wait!) and the studio sessions all combine to make this a great store. Just needed better labelling – I ended up going back to work and looking the laptops up on the web to work out which one I like. Take a look and take a visit – find it here.