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.

Nov 28

Blogs and Spam

Reading the UK Blogs Aggegator there seems to be a fair number of people trying to get to grips with spam, like BigBabbleBlog, More a way of Life and Nik’s Journal.

This blog was only up for 24 hours before being hit by lovely gambling spam. Took a few attempts to understand the implementation of MT-Blacklist, but finally got it and now it works well (although no attacks for a week). I’m trying to install MT-scode but cannot get this to work, even if disable Blacklist. I’d prefer a Captcha method as it’ll allow comments about stuff thay may be included on the blacklist. I’ll need another go after a google trawl to work out what’s going wrong.

Nov 28

Weekend

Spent the weekend just doing stuff. Tidying the house, packing things away in boxes, just general sorting. I spent a fair bit of the weekend getting the family history files up-to-date ready for the next assault on the Family Records Office. Whilst I get some lines back to about 1560, I need to focus on the ones that only go back to 1920.

Other computer things involve getting my speakers working again…no idea what the repair guy did, but it knocked these out. Plus re-installing Linux as a dual-boot and installing a TV capture card. Next step – networking the TiVO once i get the parts

Nov 26

Champagne

I had a few things to say today, about my first attempt to follow the rules for a positive day and my wander round the corner at lunchtime to the new Apple store…but I’m afraid the staff bar, good gossip and 2 bottles of champagne have put paid to that. Tomorrow.

Nov 25

Suits

I put in a little people watching whilst sitting in the lounge at Edinburgh airport tonight. The predominate occupant was male and in a dark suit. Realised how unusual that is in our office, where casual clothes are the norm and if someone does turn up in a suit they are either presenting in front of the board or have an interview somewhere.

Nov 25

The Power of a Positive Attitide

A day off work…hooray! Sort of.

Spent today at a a seminar up in Edinburgh, put on by the IMS Scotland, by a motivational speaker called Ed Foreman. It was all about having a positive attitude and how this can improve your life.

This was booked for me by my previous boss last January…no consultation or ‘development’ planning, just an email telling me date and time. So now, with a new boss and 2 new team colleagues, there was a little surprise at this…the question was why? So a good reflection on my current team dynamics!

Got there 2 minutes before the start time – BA flight delays – to find around 150 people from all types of Scottish business, sitting in a large, stuffy room, on hard chairs and no daylight. Did not bode well for me to keep awake for the day after a 5am wakeup.

The first challenge was understanding the speaker – a New Mexican/Texan accent combined with a rapid rate of delivery made it necessary to concentrate very hard for about the first hour until the accent started to make sense.

The day was a combination of lectures, anecdotes, ‘life plans’, sound bites and standing up and chanting motovational statements in unison. There was nothing new, most of the principles I’ve covered before, in other team building days, yoga clases and other means of study. They can be summarised in 2 key points:

– choose your attitude every day
– think positive, act positive, be positive

But the guy was a good speaker, knew enough stories and funnies to keep everyone focused and laughinh and had enough practical tips to be meaningful – guess that’s why he makes a living out of this. The ‘mind-controlling relaxation’ was great; I definitely fell asleep at this bit but was a lot more awake a the end of it.

Will it make a differenc – not sure. Need to think positively about it….

We did get one freebie though. Usually he gives out bags with Terrfic printed on them; however the last time he was in Scotland, he got taking to someone who thought that Scots were too dour to ever use the word Terrific, but instead may, if they were feeling really good, just about stretch to a different phrase – so that is what we got on the bag.

Lifesnaebaad2.jpg

Nov 22

Long hours again

A new project is happening and I spent most of the day on phone calls. Only really got to produce something concreate after normal hours – and then had to write up a lot of today’s calls. I’m waiting for Thursday and Friday now – the US are off for Thanksgiving and I won’t be having late calls or coming into an inbox full of emails.

Should be fun though – some real opportunties!

Nov 21

Meritocracy – good or bad?

Reading the Sunday papers, I was struck by the contrast betwen the outrage against Prince Charles complaint about people been led to expect more than they are capable of (or ‘raising above their station’ as some papers describe it) and the praise for the new Pixar movie The Incredibles which argues against people been forced into a box that matches everyone else, with no opportunity to use skills or powers that are different to the average.

I read meritocracy as meaning that everyone has the chance to do what they are good at, not that everyone has to have the chance of doing the same things.

People are different and treating everyone the same can only result in frustration all around. My Mom works with children who think nothing of stealing, of mugging, of damaging other people to get what they are ‘entitled’ to – because that;s what other peopel have. I think they confuse things with opportunties – everyone is entitled to the same opprotunities, but they have to take them and earn the things.

That’s today’s rant over. Lots more to do!

Nov 20

Photos

I’ve been trying to put up a photogallery so that I can share with family and get them to put their own pictures up. Got all the config sorted, but can’t load any pictures – tomorrow’s job to debug it.

Nov 20

Emigrating

My granddad emigrated to Australia this week. He was 83, born into a flapper woold that moved into depression and war. He married my Nan over 60 years ago; a great tale was told about how Nan’s dad had come to visit them on their honeymoon in Buxton bringing some fresh eggs that he’d obtained – a treat in a time of rationing. But Nan passed away earlier this year and so my Grandad decided he would try something different and took up the invitation of his daughter Linda to join them in Canbera, Australia.

This is his first trip abroad, the furthest he’d been before was the Channel Islands. All the hassle and red tape of getting him a visa are over. He boarded a plane for the first time for a 22 hour journey- at least he’s flying business class.

Hopefully everything goes OK on the journey and he settles in – more news to follow.

Nov 15

Spooks

Just finished watching Spooks – did they upset all the actors this year? At least with Tom there was some kind of build up to his leaving. Zoe – boom, one episode and gone. No warning, no build up, just a single story. Looks like we’re going to have more standalone episodes and little story arc as we’ve had move before.

Still an enjoyable show though.

Nov 14

Images from Australia

Here’re some images from holiday. First we have a view from the cable car down from Kuranda. This is over 7km of cable car over rainforest – you need to be able to cope with heights.

Cairns View from Skyrail

Here’s an attempt at an arty shot – a cycad they were saying was about 2000 years old. We were in the Daintree rainforest

Cycad in the Daintree Rainforest

Next, a tropical beach – DayDream Island in the Whitsundays

A beach on Daydream Island

A shot at sunset from my hotel balcony in Mission Beach

Mission Beach views

A view of Sydney from the harbour

Sydney view