The Daily Source Code threw up an interesting thought the other day while catching up after my bandwidth-starved Christmas at home with the parents: podcasts - what a great way to learn a new language. All the benefits of an audio-book, but more interactive, and with a tutor you feel more involved with. Almost as good as booking a group phone course with someone. Ok, so they need to keep up the broadcasts and you can't go any faster than they can post - but a good idea. I found the following after a search on iPodder.org:
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Rainbows (6) to Orders
Rainbow Six (Tom Clancy) was so good.
So gripping, so un-put-down-able. Full of tension, action, cool special forces military stuff.
Then there's "Executive Orders". The next one I tried to read, Rainbow Six being my first TC. What happened? I've tried more than once and never got past the first 15-20 pages. I just don't care about the new executive.
Maybe I'll do better with the other one I have - "Games of State". But right now anything else will have to wait til I've finished Pratchett's "Going Postal". Being a part-time employee of the postal service (well, the Post Office rather than Royal Mail if you want to be picky) and a fan of his earlier discworld books, a relative thought this would be quite a good present. It's turning out to be quite enjoyable and definitely readable. There's a fair bit of satire and a few political digs embedded within, choose to note them if you will as you read it - you can't get away from seeing them. Apparently his more recent books have been heading that way. I might post a fuller review once I've finished it (should be another day or two :-)
Firewire and USB at last
Hurrah, I have a USB2 hub and even though I don't quite have firewire or USB2 yet I only need await the PCI card arrival in the next few days before I'll be able to relax about the number of sockets I need. You go buying a computer (3yrs ago, admittedly) with what you think is enough ports, then accessories come along, standard input devices like the mouse and keyboard start wanting to be USB, and everything just grabs your ports and runs away with them. So I needed more. Plus it would be nice to do some editing on the DV footage recorded of the weddings I did the photography for this and last year. Make a proper video of it - something possible but really not easily accomplishable using just the camera and a video recorder. Adding titles and putting the decent segments together in a proper order would be so much nicer.
Plus as more stuff comes out firewire or USB2, I'll have some way of accessing it at least until I upgrade (could be a while yet)
Just a note now I'm back from my Christmas spent with my folks - happy Christmas to you all.
Eaten too many sweets already and I got a load more to get through - in fact I thought I'd have way too many to bring back so I tried to finish a couple off before I left.. Hope my waistline doesn't suffer for it. It doesn't usually - sorry, I'm one of those people with a fast metabolism who can eat loads and not get fat. Also hope everyone is safe here and doesn't know anyone who got caught in the tsunami on early boxing day.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
One Size (fits all...?)
One Size says the label on the woolly hat I'm looking at.
So I try it on, and guess what - they made one size too few. It should be called "Two sizes" (or more...). They shoulda made a "One Size - Large"... It fits, but it's a bit tight and might not be that comfortable for wearing for any length of time.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Orange vs. Vodaphone
Having been on my Vodaphone UK contract for a few weeks now I feel able to make a fair comparison with Orange, which I was on previously for 3 years. I also had a vodaphone pay-as-you-go phone before that, but I've never been a customer of any other mobile provider so I can't comment on anyone else (except from 2nd-hand opinions I've heard).Which, by the way, tell me that Three are very cheap but not as good a service and not so great area coverage; O2 seem ok; and T-Mobile may be a little better than their old days as One-2-One (when they really were rather poor for both non-central-areas coverage and general service) but I don't know by how much.
Anyway, they each have pro's and con's of course. I ended up changing to Vodaphone as they offered a deal that Orange simply couldn't compete with on both the phone and the tariff. I'm picky about my phones, although I wouldn't consider myself a heavy user by any means I am a bit of a gadget person but I go for well-thought out functionality and power-user features every time over looks and style. Ergonomics are important, but that's not the same thing as style. To cut the story short I chose the 6230 (it was that or the SE T610) so anyone I was happy to go with (err... O2, Vodaphone, Orange) who could do me a good deal on that phone with a contract that did the job was going to get the business. I was happy with somewhere between 100 and 200 inclusive minutes per month
- Much cheaper with their special offers at the time (6 months half-price line rental and double minutes), 3 months half-price texts.
- The phone was free.
- Collect Nectar points as you make calls. I suspect this won't make up for the Orange Wednesdays film offer, fiscally speaking or, in fact, fun-wise.
- (this list may yet expand)
- No rollover of leftover minutes? Not sure if I'm right on this one.
- The services aren't as easy or direct or cheap to use: checking your free-minute count uses up your free minutes and requires a couple of levels of menus on the automated system; but they do text you the details (handy if you're forgetful).
- You pay for 0800 numbers, ok we get it - the annoying thing is they warn you of this before every call to one; so I hope you're not in a rush to be connected...
- (this list may yet expand)
- Orange Wednesdays (buy one cinema ticket get one free every Wednesday), not to be sniffed at if you're a film fan.
- Nice easy to use services for checking your free-minutes/other info.
- More of their phone numbers for customer services etc. are free.
- Free calls to 0800 numbers.
- (this list may yet expand)
- More expensive - they couldn't do any of the half-price offers Vodaphone were able to do, but they could do the double-minutes offer for the first (six?) months.
- (this list may yet expand)
In terms of network coverage, they both seem about the same, mind you I've not travelled very far with my Voda-phone yet.
Friday, December 17, 2004
GPS: Gross Paranoia Scare
I've heard via Adam Curry's weblog that President Bush wants to have emergency plans to allow him to temporarily disable the GPS satellites that are such an essential part of today's navigational systems during a crisis.
Ok, it would stop any terrorists being able to use it; but I suspect the US Army and many other people would suffer far more. How paranoid can you get?
Sunday, December 12, 2004
BitTorrent - better to give than receive (b/width)
BitTorrent's great, but it's not perfect. It's only really worthwhile for larger files, and once you've downloaded the file what incentive is there to keep your client open? Even if you're not using your upload bandwidth, and you're feeling generous (leaving it on until you need the bandwidth or reboot), are you going to bother to manually start an old download up again? One solution might be to create a start-up run tool/service that sits in the background and (configurably) keeps up the swarm count for any torrents you have - encourage users to turn it on, and make it part of all clients; but another idea I just had would be to credit people for providing upload bandwidth somehow over time. Is there a way of safely implementing this (ie. unhackable) without resort to servers? Then each client could decide how much bandwidth another client gets by how much they've helped the swarm in the past. It would be quite easy to do if each client kept a record of how much it's uploaded over all torrents; but keeping it so you can't exploit that to pretend you're massively in credit would be the hard part. hashes?
I have heard of another attempt at a 'swarming download' technique called exeem, developed by the people who run Suprnova, a major torrent archive (although most of the content is illegal copyrighted stuff. It's still in closed-beta testing as far as I know, but their aims are to reduce the load on the central seeding server and turn it from a monolithic system into a more distributed one with a few of the 'swarm' of PCs downloading the file turning themselves into mini-servers, selected by bandwidth or connection availability. Sounds like a nicer idea if it works well.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
256Mb in my Nokia 6230
Hurrah... Got back from work today and found a postie had left a card for a packet that needed signing for. I suspected this to be one of three things. I was going to have to go out again anyway to sort/post my sister's birthday present so I thought I might as well go into town and pick it up. It was going to be either my latest DVD from Xiddi (DVD swapping site) which still hasn't arrived; Spiderman 2 on DVD which I ordered the other day; or the MMC memory card for my mobile. It turned out to be the memory card, so now I can fit more than the 32Mb provided with the phone allowing some podcasts (e.g. the Daily Source Code which I've been keeping up with) without having to limit my music listening (mp3) options.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Taxi - French vs. American
How could they do it! I've not seen the new American version of the film but I bet they've completely ruined it. If you've not seen the (subtitled, ignore the dubbed vers) French original go rent it, especially if you like cars and zany (maybe slightly geekish but accessibly so) comedy. Mind out for general spoilers below so don't read on if you want to watch it from fresh.
The French original has to have absolutely the best ending in any movie ever. Well, if you like cars and the bad guys getting what's coming to them. It just hits you without warning after this great, quite mad, chase sequence and the surprise and the situation they're left in before the credits roll is very cool. I bet the only thing the remake has going for it is the hot model-chicks.
Podcasting and Audio Blogs
I was watching the Culture Show on BBC3 (or was it 4?) the other night (repeat of BBC2 original showing) and they were talking about PodCasting, not mentioning but also meaning audio blogging. For any non-techies/geeks who won't have a clue, I'm talking about creating audio programmes (or in the analogy to blogs, "posts") made of music, talk, interviews, whatever - anything really, and publishing it onto webpages, usually as a regular show people can "subscribe" to with appropriate software and download ready to listen to whenever, wherever they want. Kinda like recording a regular radio show and listening to it later on, with a walkman/your hifi. A walkman (sorry, "personal stereo") is probably the better analogy what with iPods being so involved. The whole portable electronic music player phenomenon gave this idea wings although there are many other ways to do it. Many mobile phones nowadays, particularly the high end of the market can download and play mp3 audio files at reasonable quality for their size, and there are an estimated 30million portable mp3 players worldwide.
So I started looking at a few links - ipodder.org, podcasts.org and had a listen to one.
I had a thought that you could probably create one while out and about with your mobile phone too if it's got a voice recorder - or leave yourself a very long voicemail and record it later when you pick it up (gets expensive though). But proper microphones and PC sound editing software is the best way.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Ok, bad newspaper-headline subject, but I couldn't think of anything better. Please excuse me.
The Incredibles - great movie, go see it. It's a more grown-up animation by the Pixar team (who brought us "Toy Story", "Monsters, Inc", "Finding Nemo"). It's all about the Incredibles, a group of superheros who used to save the world regularly but have had to hang up their capes and skintight suits to become 'normal' people after lawsuits filed against them become prohibitive. Maybe a comment on the USA of today?
Being 'normal' people, two of them (Bob and xxxxxxxxxx to use their alter-ego names) have got married, settled down and are living the family life with three kids, a home, and nothing to mark them out to joe public. But of course they miss the old days and superheros can't stay tucked away forever. Besides which it'd be a boring film if their powers never came out to play.
There's a few famous voices: Samuel Jackson as Bob (Mr Incredible)'s friend hero Frozone, and Holly Hunter as his wife Elastigirl (only noticed in the credits, I'm not familiar enough with her voice). You might not instantly recognise some others but you may know of them - Bob is voiced by Craig Nelson, who plays Chief Jack Mannion in "The Precinct" (cop drama show); the bad guy - an old friend, is voiced by someone you may recognise from "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back". And for the first time since Jessica Rabbit I found one of the female characters sexy - the arch enemy's henchgirl (oh dear...)
Lots of fun. Might well be buying the DVD when it comes out. Pixar prove themselves yet again and certainly have a candidate for best film let alone best animated feature. You don't need to have kids to have an excuse to go see it, trust me.
You even get treated before and after the main feature too: before it there's another of Pixar's shorts: "Boundin'". Short, nothing spectacular, but watchable poetic fun with a sheep and a moral-message; and the credits music is proper band stuff, like a superhero film should be.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Bon East chinese restaurant, Farnham
Went out with a couple of friends tonight and tried out the new chinese restaurant down the bottom of the hill, Bon East. I've walked past the door loads of times while it was being converted from the pub it used to be - the Bricklayer's Arms (and not much of a pub in my opinion, certainly not one I miss). It happens to be on my walk home from work if I take that route, so I've peeked through the windows.
The outside looks quite posh and maybe a little pretentious, and the inside is done out nicely but also a little like it's trying. The sign isn't quite right in my opinion, it needs toning down a bit. Compared to the housing and the area around it, it's not really in character. But that's a good thing in some ways. Once you walk inside through the (not quite fitting, needs some alignment) heavy front doors and through the doors into the restaurant itself, you are whisked away into a classy interior. They've certainly tried to do something with it and the tropical fish tank was an eye-catcher as well as some of the lighting. Nice seasonal touches too for Christmas.
It was mainly filled by business types, with some more casually dressed people so I felt a little underdressed wearing just a casual top and smart-ish black jeans but not unduly so. I'll wear a shirt next time.
It's got a well equipped menu and polite waiters/waitresses. The food was nice, a little pricey but not extortionate. It's not the kind of restaurant you'd expect cheap meals in anyway. A good desert menu too, I had to try the "funky pie".
I'd be happy to take someone there in future, even a date. There's a certain sense of discovery with it being so new and being one of the first to visit. Not a lot of people will have heard of it I guess - I've not heard anyone else chatting about it, especially with the pub there before not being one you'd go very far out of your way to visit (for me). Hopefully it won't get too busy.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
I finally upgraded my Nokia 6310i which I've had for 3yrs on contract, to a Nokia 6230. My mate also chose the same for his upgrade, so again we have the same phone. Actually I've written most of what I want to say on his blog so go read that and my comments...
Nice phone. Some thoughts so far after a day's fairly heavy use (ran down the battery playing mp3s over bluetooth, setting it up how I like it, and transferring contacts :-):
- The keypad isn't quite as good as the 6310i in my opinion - no slack space between the keys, you can't be quite so carefree when pressing them as on the 6310 if you have ordinary size fingers and don't want to hit a wrong key.
- The new directional-joypad thing isn't as good as a joystick for accuracy but is smoother when going from one direction to another and probably less thumb wear & tear. Overall, the keypad is decent enough, properly switched keys rather than a mebrane type thing they put on cheap phones.
- Good bluetooth functionality - hurrah!
- Same nice Nokia address-book and easy to use menus as all their phones.
- It's not as customisable as Sony Ericcson phones, but I don't care about it looking pretty. Would be nice to have a few of their features though - e.g. the automatic switch to a set profile when a meeting/other calendar alarm goes off, and pin-protected keylock. At least it's got time-delay auto-keylock for those times you might forget. I've wasted too many contract minutes before with it trying to call strange numbers or send empty texts to people who's names begin with A, when it's been in my pocket unlocked.
Spanish part 2
After my initial attempt to find some decent material to learn l'espaniol from, I was doing ok but not that great with the BBC's audio/book beginner's Suenos collection. Upon a revisit to the library I found a different series by Pimsleur - "The Short Course" (UK version) which has a far better technique for teaching you, i.e. they've done some thinking/research into how we learn and structured the word-intake/repetition to fit. It's a CD-only course and not quite as intense as another online one I tried that did very well by using strange/funny associations to help you remember the word. It teaches you grammar at the same time as a bit of vocabulary and I might be tempted to buy one of the later courses if I get through this one well.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I've taken it upon myself to try and learn Spanish. I don't expect to be fluent or even capable anytime in the next year or two, but having come back from Mexico I still have a desire to be able to speak it. Most holidays you go on, if you're like me, you'll pick up a few words and the basics like hello, goodbye, thanks, please, and a few numbers but never get much further. By the time you've got that it's time to come back home and you won't need them again unless you visit somewhere else that speaks the language (or make friends out there).
French I really don't get on with - teachers had a go at secondary school, I wasn't bothered and gave it up as soon as I could. I still remember some just 'cos it was a few years worth, but I'd be hopeless in France. German I've never even touched. I might know 1-3, 'no' (everyone knows that), and er... ok that's all that comes to mind. Italian I picked up a few words while on hols there a few years ago although it was a typical package holiday so we didn't try much. But Mexico was great, one of the best holidays I've ever had and (ok the lovely ladies make it even more tempting) I would really be interested to speak a little more. I picked up more there than I have done on any other holiday and I've heard it said that it's quite an easy language to learn. I'm quite a logical person - I studied Latin at GCSE and always thought that has come in handy on the odd occasion.
Book-and-audio-tape/CD courses seem like a good way for now. I can study whenever I want and do as much as I like each time. I've found a Spanish Sky Digital channel (TVEi, channel no.835 at the moment) which should be great just to have on in the background and try to pick out words / hear the pronounciation and accents. I did look up some courses and have one (quite cheap - £46 per 11 1.5hr lessons) very locally but I've missed the start of term and don't know whether I could still enrol. That's the most expensive but probably the best way to learn (apart from knowing someone Spanish willing to help). Jon knows a bit as he's got friends he writes to in (Latin American) Spanish sometimes but it's more written than spoken. Anyone who can speak/write it fancy chatting?
Vocabulary... How big is yours?
I was chatting to Jon the other day on Skype (free Voice over IP software), and he's decided to try and expanding his vocabulary by learning new words regularly. While reading his current Iain Banks book, he'd come across quite a few words he didn't know from the subject matter and wondered if I knew them. Turns out it was a lot to do with sailing and boats. I used to sail quite a lot with my dad when I was younger so knew all these terms like gunwhale (pronounced 'gunnal'), fore/aft, starboard/port and which way round they all are. A lot of them I recognised and maybe had a feeling but didn't really know what they were.
We all grew up differently (well, maybe twins didn't - at a guess :-) so most of us have some words or phrases we know that most other people don't. How about taking time to ask your friends for an uncommon word they think is outside your vocabulary? Is that a good way to learn more?
Skype (free VoIP)
Ever wanted to chat to someone online using your real voice rather than text (eg. email, SMS, Instant-messaging, or even real snail-mail letters)? I've always had an eye out for any application that will do this without requiring an expensive subscription. It's technically known as Voice-over-IP, or VoIP.
Well, I've found one. Well, my mate Jon did. It's called Skype and once you've downloaded it, installed it and signed up, you can chat for free to anyone else using skype using just a microphone and speaker plugged into your PC. I'm not sure about bandwidth requirements, as I'm on ADSL 512kbps so slower connections may not be so great. You still ought to be able to handle a reasonably decent quality conversation. It's secure and encrypted so noone can listen to you uninvited, they appear to support conferences although only the Windows version of the software can host them at present, and it's better than mobile or (just about) normal landline clarity. We did notice a tendency to go metallic or jerky a bit when you suddenly start doing other things online although 512kbps should be plenty for any type of half-decently compressed audio at all, but it's pretty cool otherwise. You can also chat/instant-message people if you're not in the mood or not set up for audio.
They also mention "SkypeOut", a way of calling plain non-internet phones all over the world (yep, this is where they try and make their money) with a pre-pay charging scheme. It seems real cheap though - 1.1p-ish per minute for most countries they support.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
The Pier, Harwich (Essex, UK)
Nice restaurant. The menu is mainly fish based but they also do a few other options in case you're not a seafood fan. It has a view out over the water too. We had a meal there last weekend for my brother's wedding celebrations - for everyone who couldn't make it to Mexico, but most of the UK side of the wedding party was there plus the bride's father. Next door they have a function room/bar we used for the rest of the time.
Fitting with the sea theme to the place, as you go in to the restaurant there is a ship's wheel and one of those levers used to indicate the speed/direction required (from full ahead to full reverse).
If you have enough people to book it all, not everyone can see everyone else as the room is a 'U' shape around the entrance area and the two top ends of the U are slightly raised up on a platform. Recommended for the food and good service, they were ever so helpful to the happy couple with putting out their supplied flowers, candles and other decorations.
Jeep, come on... Try a little harder with your names, pleeease...
Saw a Jeep SUV V8-engined type thing on the way back from my dentist appointment today parked in town, and it had the above name on the back. Obviously their name for their development of 4-wheel drive, but doesn't it sound crap!
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Holiday Diary (long)
This entry's more for me than everyone else but here's what I did on holiday. So it may be a little boring in places.
Wednesday 8th September
- Dave gave me a lift to Gatwick in the morning with my luggage, met the rest of my family soon after arriving by chance and checked in. Main suitcase was 20.3kg, but not a problem (limit is 20kg).
- Sat around a lot, had some proper breakfast/lunch and waited for the flight to Toronto. The bride and groom took a slightly later flight.
- Enjoyed the rush of acceleration as we were whisked off in a fairly northerly direction before heading out over the Atlantic. It's a 7hr flight.
- Of course, 5hrs time difference westwards means we get there shortly after we left and the tiring flight hasn't helped (although Raising Helen was worth watching and it was nice seeing the lay of the land by air).
- Collapse into bed and hope our body clocks sort themselves a bit.
Thursday - visit and explore downtown Toronto, mainly the Eaton shopping centre - has a massive Sears there (department store). All browsing, as it was easier to pick stuff up on the stop-over there on the way back home than carry it around the rest of the hols.
Friday - CN Tower
- Took loads of photos, had dinner in the revolving restaurant up the top - expensive but if you choose a main meal item you don't need to pay for the elevator ride up the tower. This has a constant view outside all the way up due to a window running the entire height of the tower's base and glass doors to the lift, so you'd better be ok with that if you ever go. One rotation every 72mins so by the time you've had dinner you should have seen every direction at least once.
- Also popped down to the observation deck where you can walk round the outside with wire mesh and concrete obscuring your view. Or you can look down through some glass panels in the floor further inside and see all the way down from 350-odd metres up. Good for "aagh I'm about to fall" joke photos.
- Shoot more photos after coming down from it.
Saturday - Niagara Falls (100 miles away)
- Meet Lindsey's friends Shelley at hotel, share car space on the hour drive to Niagara.
- Try out the "Maid of the Mist" boat trip - well worth it, I don't think you can really say you've 'done' the falls until you've been on it. Takes you right up close and being at the bottom rather than the top makes them all the more impressive. Definitely better to view them from the Canadian side than the USA side.
- Take loads of photos again - some really nice ones too.
- On the way home we stopped off at a canal which my dad was particularly interested in, think it's one of the longest in the world that'll fit commercial shipping down it. Used to be used to carry important ores or wood or something from the East down to Toronto. Lots and lots of gates too, as there's a fair old climb from one end to the other. We saw one ship going through just as we got there. I took a few pics.
Sunday - last minute look/shop (ie more film!), fly to Mexico
- Meet up with the groom's "Best Lady" (the best man being unable to attend) at Toronto airport for the package flight/holiday to the hotel near Tulum (south of Cancun on the coast), Mexico.
- Dad has fun trying to take his film through customs without it being X-rayed at all. We all sit and wait, while trying to make use of a Tim Horton's eaterie with varying eastern-origin accented staff, the Canadian mix-in didn't help.
- It's only a 4hr flight so the fact that the food/snacks/coffee gets worse each flight with Air Transat isn't of major importance.
- We land in Cancun early evening and by the time we get to the hotel it's dark so we can't see how nice it is. The bus transfer trip is uneventful and we pass the monotonous palm/coconut forestation that pervades almost the entire area without much comment. Lindsey's family have been there a day already (and are leaving a day before us), we happen to see them at check-in and are instantly lifted in spirit by their mood (after a drink or two it has to be said...). Lovely reception area, instantly get the feeling that I'm going to love this holiday and the chilled-out attitudes despite knowing very little about it.
- I just had to join them for free drinks - it's all inclusive, meeting Laurel (Lindsey's sister) and her other half Ethan. By the end of this evening I knew I was going to love the holiday.
Monday - Hurrah! Mexico
- The best bit of the holiday begins.
- Wake up, take a look outside, and feel even better instantly.
- Explore the hotel, walk round the 3 pools, down to the sea (ooo... about a minute's walk from my room), and the hotel lobby/facilities.
The rest of the time was spent on various outings that I will write about (maybe as an extension to this entry) to Chichen Itza and Tulum's Mayan ruins, sunning myself, drinking pina colada's/other cocktails and beers (not together!), playing in the pool or the sea. Plus there was the wedding of course! The only bad bit was suffering from bad pool water or something towards the end of the week and overdoing the sun on the last day without any suncream on (in the sea, snorkelling... so easy - but worth it). Made the trip carrying my luggage back from Gatwick far less fun. It's horrible enough with suitcases on the underground anyway without sore shoulders.
That trip from Gatwick back home actually ended up costing not all that much less than a taxi would have been! £12 for the Gatwick Express back into London, £2 tube to Waterloo then £10.10 single back to Farnham. Doesn't it annoy you how return tickets are only a little more expensive than singles? Well, the £10.10's return version was £10.80. 70p more! I seriously considered buying a return, just on the off-chance! It was never going to be used, but when it's only 70p more on a tenner, what difference does it make?!
Interesting stories - you'll have to check out other entries... I could mention the group of entirely leather (quite fetish) clad gentlemen and Transvestites I passed on the way out of the hotel one evening; there's the madness on the way back after getting off the Mexican flight back to Toronto; there's the talented spray-paint or glass artists demonstrating and selling their wares around the shop/bar part of the hotel, the time I got hit on in the club, mention of some lovely Mexican ladies I unfortunately never got any further than flirty conversation with,....
Some holiday photos online
Some of (just the one colour film I took on the day) my brother's wedding photos from Mexico are now online in their own portfolio. More will be there as I get them developed/scanned in.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Four flights and a wedding
I will have to write more than this later when I'm back home, but just been having a brilliant time in Mexico and Toronto apart from one thing which I have to write a rant about later. I am in a 'net cafe at present so I won't write too much especially as this keyboard has a problem with caps shift and some keys. Beautiful wedding on the beach on the Mayan Riviera at our hotel, lovely weather most of the time apart from the odd bit of rain and a windier+wetter night when Ivan came past - it is the season, and great time in Toronto beforehand. Just got a day in Toronto again before flying back to the UK to do the shopping we were browsing for on the way out. Note: this post may get edited later...
Monday, August 23, 2004
Jon has reliably informed me that blogger comments suck if you're not a registered user. So I'm considering going back to haloscan or finding something else (or, hell, a custom solution on my own server in perl or something).
Guest membership & Fitness centres
My mate Jon has decided he's going to get fit since he came back from the east. What's this got to do with me? Well, having signed up to the local sports centre he gets a guest membership (or two/..?). Very kindly offered to me. Which means for a week, for free, I can go use the facilities. Obviously a sales tool, but cool - I'm gonna make the most of it. So I wander over there after work in the afternoon (he'd been and done his thing in the morning) and was on the phone to him when he tells me we both have to be there - he has to sign me in and out in order for the guest membership to work. Bugger! Cos I work part-time and I don't think our times coincide apart from Friday unless I make it a very early start. Might not get much of a chance to use it then. Having carried my gear all the way down the hill as well (and there's the return walk back up). I think the walk with it and the food shopping I did probably made up for the exercise I lost though!
Hey, at least I went to the badminton club on Sundays for the first time in about 2-3yrs. Have played since with friends but not for quite a few months so I was terribly out of practice. Didn't play that bad actually - just completely failed to win any games (doubles all the time). Was getting better at the end though and hopefully after a few weeks regular attendance I'll be close as back to normal. Which was quite decent, when I played regularly. The tallness helps (I'm 6'), and long legs/arms to get about the court quickly and reach those tricky ones. Shouldn't let my pretty nice racquet go to waste either.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Humour and Food for thought - Meattrix
The Meattrix is here! Veggies in particular will enjoy
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Hot or Not?
Anyone know of Hot or Not? It caused a bit of a sensation in 2000 when it was first created: basically you sign up, add a photo, and then everyone else on the site can rate your looks from 1 to 10. About as shallow as you can get really, relationship-wise; but it's more a bit of fun and competitiveness really. You get a reasonably honest rating of how people see you (assuming people don't just click 1 or 10 all the time), and to look at some hot and not so hot girls/guys during your lunch break or whenever.
They also do a 'meet me' side of it, where you see pictures of girls (optionally in your area or with a certain keyword in their profile) and can say yay or nay to 'I want to meet you'. If you say yes, they should see your profile next time they log in and check the meet me section; if they also say yes, you both appear in each other's double-matches list and can send a note or two. If you pay you can do even more include sending emails/notes generally (I think?). Very flexible on other keyword details, but rather limited on searching for the meet-me part.
The site is actually run by a couple of guys from their room, and it's rather amazing it's grown so big (well into the millions of users) and kept going so long. As I'm doing the internet-dating thing at the moment, thought I'd put my profile on there (a good proving ground for my photos I put up on the dating sites too!) and see how it went. I'm currently on 5.9 - not that bad. I'd probably rate myself about 6.3 if I was being honest. Here's what my graph looks like as I write...
What I want to know is: who rated me a 10? Can I meet you? Unfortunately you don't get that chance unless they also went to the meet-me side of it and clicked yes there. Too many 1s and 2s for my liking, but the rest makes up for it. Maybe my looks just require a slightly quirky mind. Which is good as I'd consider myself a bit quirky sometimes.
By the way, I've also started an online dating section to my site listing the dating-services websites with details, links (of course) and what they provide/my comments. It's very basic right now, but it will grow and improve and maybe I'll let you add your comments/new sites sometime too.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Right after the date, on the Friday morning, I had a Post Office training day to attend in Portsmouth. Everyone else from work had already been on it (bar one, who couldn't attend this one either); so I was there on my own.
I took the train down, which meant getting up about 5.15am to catch the 7.38 train and go via Aldershot to Guildford, then straight down to Pompy. Well actually I woke up at 5.15am anyway, before any alarm went off. Maybe it was after the date the night before. I didn't get back very early after the date either: although I caught an 11.15 train or so, and got back in around midnight, I then had to feed my mate Jon's goldfish and walk back home. His parents had gone away on holiday and I usually look after the house while they're away for them. I hadn't visited in a couple of days so the poor goldfish (called Sonic) probably wondered what on earth was happening when the light went on and he got some food around twenty-past midnight. Got back home, had some food, got stuff ready for the training and it was gone 1.30am by the time I got to bed.
So with less than four hours sleep, a complicated train journey (not hard, just plenty of changes), and a full day ahead plus the return journey back to look forward to, I found my way to the conference room and awaited training. It was actually an ok day, met loads of people, plus the added bonus of a couple of very attractive ladies from marketing in head office, London looking in on it and taking notes. They'd only been at their jobs for 3 weeks. If you ever see this page, Sarah and Jo, I'd love to chat again... Hope our thoughts and suggestions were useful. (really hope I remembered the names right... :-)
After the day, I hung around for a bit, did some shopping, nearly stopped for a pint but there weren't any pubs that looked suitable; and came back via a drink in Guildford (it was a rare chance I had to stop and have a drink in Guildford without worrying about the drive home). Anyway, got home 9.30pm and was rather tired.
The dates (#1 & 2)
Well, after getting a date with someone I was getting along with just fine, I was really looking forward to meeting her. I was surprised that I wasn't suffering from the nerves so badly right up until that afternoon. I was probably too excited!
It went pretty well for a first-time meeting, and if you think of us as just friends then it went great. If you consider the 'date' aspects then it wasn't so much of a success, but we both still had a nice time together. We met at Clapham Junction train station as we both came by train, and from there we walked past a few bars before finding a suitable one to stop for a pint or two in.
The most nervous moment in the whole evening was actually just before I got off the train at the station. I'd been fine right up til the announncer said the train was about to come into Clapham, then the old butterflies started to build a bit right up until I walked down the stairs from the walkway that runs over all the platforms. By the time I'd seen her waiting by the station door I was feeling a lot more relaxed again.
So we had a couple of drinks in this bar, a quite trendy place, and then headed back and found a proper pub for a last drink (and more audible conversation without the loud music) before the end of the evening. Kate had to get back as she likes her sleep (whereas I'm happy to stay up til god knows what time even on a weekday with an early start and a long day ahead, such as Friday was). I think we hardly stopped chatting the whole evening, excusing the obvious ladies/gents visits and waiting-at-bar time. So we got back to the station, and her train happened to be waiting ready to go so it was rather a rushed goodbye with just a quick kiss and a 'I'll mail/text you, had a lovely evening' etc. Given a pretty sunset and a steam train it could almost have been an old romantic movie with her waving out the window as she disappeared off into the distance... (I can hear the background music welling up as I write :-)
We next spoke (or wrote, rather) on the Monday after as she'd had a busy weekend with a couple of weddings to go to and I think although we both agreed it was a good evening, there wasn't the sexual tension there to really push for a 2nd date. I'd have been happy to meet up again, and we've been in touch since and sent jokes to and fro and stuff, but I think we'll just stay friends assuming we keep in contact.I did wonder after that whether I played it too cool, but if I'd really have liked her I would have made more effort. Made me realise that I do tend to play it very cool initially, even if I really fancy someone; I'm too good at screwing it up before they've had a chance to get to know me not to.
Would you believe I've just got another date already? Meeting Thurs eve's again (in Farnham, that's the plan so far); will write more about this one after the event. A little more uncertain for this one as I don't think we've spent as much time chatting before-hand, but again, she asked me out rather than the other way around and I wasn't going to say no. What is it? I'm not that slow! That's twice in close succession. Last time I was asked out was about 15 years ago!
Thesaurus: Cliché and bromide - what?
I was wandering around WH Smiths the other day and checking out their sale when I spotted the dictionaries and thesauri (plural?). I've got a pocket-sized dictionary from my school years, maybe not in my house, but it never gets used anyway as I don't often come across (non techy-jargon) words I don't know. A thesaurus would be useful sometimes but I make do with the one included in MS Word. quick aside: it would be dead handy to have a desktop tool that did it's job with a textbox/from the clipboard. I saw the nice expensive ones and would like one someday, but ended up deciding to buy an on-sale cheap 'pocket' (well, not quite) version published by Penguin.
Making use of my new tool and browsing a little, I came across the following entry:
cliché noun platitude, commonplace, truism, bromide
Now, all the rest I get; but - 'bromide'? Am I showing myself up, but isn't that a dangerous chemical? If I had a dictionary around I'd look it up (next purchase?... :-)
If you know why it's there, please mail me or add a comment
Monday, July 19, 2004
Woah! Got a date...
Yep, someone I've been chatting to has agreed to go out for a drink with me, on Thursday evening to be precise.
Guess I can update my "wanted" list (see bottom right sidebar entry).
Actually, it was her who was a little bold and asked first. But it's cool. If things had carried on going as well as they were with us getting to know each other, I'd have asked in the next day or two anyway.
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Those dating websites again
I've already written about online dating but up until recently I'd been signed up for one for about 2 years (since June '02) and not had a wink of action (literally - you can send virtual 'winks' to people you might wink/cheesy-smile at for real). I have had a couple of winks in the last few weeks and started considering signing up to send messages, but generally it has been pretty quiet. Mind you I never made a load of effort myself and I didn't subscribe (paid-service) to be able to send/read messages.
Ok I probably started out with a bad (not interesting/funny/sexy enough) profile, and it was definitely an unsexy photo (ex-company mugshot, 'professional' looking). But I did evolve it and specifically went out on a good day some time ago and took a load of photos for it and picked the best look etc...
So earlier this week I looked at the other sites and signed up to a couple more - tried to pick UK-specific (again), just the free sign-ups they all allow so you can put your photo and a bit about yourself on it. Hoped I might find a more active site or at least get more responses.
I'd only been signed up to one of them for a day or two when I got my first wink and a message or two. The difference with this site is that you can see who's been checking your profile. It also means that someone else knows when you've looked at their profile, so sometimes you might think twice about looking but I'm not paranoid enough for it to stop me. So I did the normal search, narrowed it down a bit and tried to just include local-ish (local county-specific) areas. I've also been looking to see who else is online at the time and checking out any profiles that might be interesting. There's a range from very interesting to weird, from 18 year-old students to lonely 60 year-olds, and some incredibly attractive people on some of them (assuming the photos are real).
It sure does boost your confidence and make you feel a load better about yourself to be contacted by other people who like the look of you/your profile. I've never thought I was that attractive (see my about-me page here for evidence, ignore the b&w pixelly one) and sometimes I think about finding one of those "amIhotornot" type sites to get myself honestly rated.
Anyway, I seem to be getting along quite well with one lady in particular from a site and all going well we might end up meeting sometime in the near future. I hope I'm not appearing to be too much a rooky (of these dating sites, or writing the right kind of chatty messages after 2yrs being single).
Need an instant-thesaurus!
Remember my gripe about mis-punctuation a while ago?
I could do with a quick accessible-from-the-desktop thesaurus tool on my computer to help out when you're looking for the right word to fill in a message/email, and you've got a word but it's not quite right or has an image that goes with it that you don't want to portray. I don't actually own a hard-copy paper thesaurus, as I always thought the ones provided with things like MS Word or equivalents (Star Office, etc..) would be good enough. They're certainly quicker to find words in/jump around similar words than a book as long as you have your PC running, but I wouldn't mind a more instant access than that too.
In searching for a web page that might provide something I could twist using a script or little program into what I need, I found a handy reference for anyone not quite sure about grammar.Common Errors in English
(via a link on Dictionary.com)
Monday, July 05, 2004
It's all new! (clothes)
Got a quarterly bonus, and my yearly one this month so I've been spending some on clothes. I kind of needed a few things anyway, and although I'm not that sure I ought to be spending much on them I've got myself a new jacket (at last!), some new undies, and a nice new shirt. The large majority of which was in the sales and I did need it anyway.
I'd wanted a new jacket for months and months, but couldn't justify £60-odd or more to get one worth having. I have survived on just a zip-up fleece and a thin waterproof for the last few months (since I lost my other nice (thin) jacket), but I've been wanting a thicker one for about a year now (or more). The sales meant I could buy a previously-£80 jacket for just over 40 quid. Great.
There have started to be some really nice patterned shirts appearing on shelves over the last few years, or is it that my taste has changed and I've started to notice them more? Anyway, here's a sample of the new one I got in Next today:
Love the way the diagonal lines change hue creating darker and lighter pattern areas almost at random. Randomness in patterns, or slightly non-regular shapes in patterns (e.g. wobbly edges), or unregular shapes joined interestingly always look good.
CGI or Real?
Here's a test of your abilities to determine real pictures from computer-generated ones:
I got 7 out of 10 first go, although I wasn't sure on one of the ones I got wrong and half-guessed. Can you do any better? Anyone who hasn't seen good CG may find it hard to believe the computer-generated ones aren't real.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Goodwood Festival of Speed
I wanted to go to the FoS last year, but unfortunately the Friday my mates were going was on the last Friday of my Post Office training and although we finished early it was still early afternoon and not really worth going - if there were even any tickets left on the door.
This year it was all planned in advance and I swapped work hours so I could get the Friday off (cheapest day, at £15 - it's £40 on Sunday!). Got a lift with Keith where we met Andy (ex-work mate) in Midhurst - or just outside it 'cos traffic was horrible - and I went the rest of the way in Andy's Marcos. That's a convertible 4-litre V8 powered roadster type thing that bears closest resemblance to an older TVR. Very nice inside, real leather, proper wood and comfy with it. Just a pity we hardly got out of 2nd gear pootling through the traffic. Nice V8 engine note though. I think I prefer my Scooby sound, but this was faster. It's for sale if anyone's interested (mail me and I'll pass the details on).
The red arrows were there doing a display while we ate lunch and a hurricane flew around later on too doing aerobatics.
Most mainstream manufacturers had a presence there, plus magazines, some car clubs and a lot of old racing cars (Formula 1, rallying - eg. the Paris-Dakar, the first Scooby to win the WRC, 50s and 60s single/twin seaters, world-record breakers...).
They'd hung the world land and boat speed record vehicles up as the main showpieces in front of the house - the BlueBird, a fast seaplane and the jet boat that broke the record way back when (300mph).
All in all a great day, definitely worth the ticket price and I've seen and heard a lot of great cars. Walking right up to the windows on the new Ferrari 612 (4-seater! eh?!!) or a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, or the latests Aston Martin (DB9) or seeing the crazy Koenigsegg (sp?), or the newest Noble (M14) up close is an experience you don't get every day. Or anytime, normally.
I was also pleasantly surprised how much it wasn't rip-off prices for food too, although the programmes were quite expensive (a tenner). I'm definitely up for going again next year. There is a 'revival' day/weekend soon but that doesn't interest me so much. I like the old cars but I enjoyed the newer ones more (with the odd exception - Ford GT40, Ferrari GTO to name a couple).
There were some painfully loud motorbikes, their soapbox cart challenge (although you could hardly call them soapboxes, as a lot were designed by manufacturer teams and pretty hi-tech).
Friday, June 18, 2004
Winchester day out
Spent Sunday in Winchester with my brother and his fiance Lindsey who'd come to visit for the weekend. They came down Saturday evening and I met them in town about 10pm in a pub, when I was a bit tipsy. They came back and slept in an airbed they brought with them in Liz's ex-room. Got up Sunday, quite early actually (for me), and decided to go to Winchester for a day out. I've never really seen the place - visited it once for a job interview, and spent a few minutes taking pictures of the cathedral from the hill and wondering round the town, but that's it.
We had a proper day there including walking round the cathedral (14 bells, for any campanologists reading! That's quite a few! Especially when the tenor's 35hwt, or 1.75tonnes-ish). It was an absolutely lovely sunny day anyway, and I even got a lead for a possible bit of wedding photography from a girl in one of the shops we walked round (while Peter and Lindsey were looking at pendants). I took some digital pics, samples below...
It was nice to see my bro and Lindsey again - it's not long before their wedding (in Mexico) and that's somewhere I'm looking forward to going, with a planned stop in Toronto too - home to Niagara Falls and the CN Tower. The CN will be a good comparison to the Empire State Building which I went up a couple of years ago on my NY trip. Apparently you can just see the spray from the Falls from the top of the tower when the weather's good. That's 160km(100miles) away.
Three Nilllll!!! Three Nillllll!!!
Engerland! Engerland! Engerland!
Yes, I watched the game last night. Having whipped Switzerland's arse (Rooney's the star), we now have to beat Croatia on Monday to be assured of getting through to the quarter finals. If we don't beat them, it goes down to goal difference and will be a bit touch and go depending what happens meantime. France drew with Croatia in the other game last night - ideally France should have won for our best chances, but I found it hard to cheer France on (never been a massive fan of them).
Now we've won a game the team should get a confidence lift and play better. Croatia are a better team than the Swiss so it'll be a harder game.
Had a good afternoon/evening down the pub too, said hi to someone I haven't seen for a long time - a girl who works in the local sandwich shop that I used to visit almost every day when I first moved into Farnham and was working just round the corner. Was surprised she remembered me actually as the only time we ever spoke was in the shop when I was ordering sarnies. Might have to pop in again sometime for a change from my own/Boots/Sainsbury's/Safeways prepackaged sarnies. They're very nice sarnies and rolls in there, in fact they won best sandwich shop of the year a few years back.
The Day After Tomorrow
Forget any lame jokes about when you're going to see it (the day after tomorrow? ;-), just don't bother. Wait til it comes out on satellite/cable/rental or watch it round a mate's. It's a bit of a lame movie. Yeah, some great special effects, but they just didn't create a sense of awe or terror.
Glad it only cost me 10p as part of Orange Wednesday's (same way I saw Troy last week). I didn't have my hopes up too high, although Liz (ex-flatmate) who was going to come too originally, but didn't, thought it looked good.
Waiting and rather looking forward to Shrek 2 though...
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Blogger.com publishing fixed
Blogger.com did it's nice update recently, and although the new features and new post authoring/management features are great (+ proper comments! hurrah!), they broke FTP publishing (when using your own site). Came back for first time in a week or so and noticed they've finally fixed it. Thanks guys. My posts can finally be published. So sorry to anyone reading this when it disappeared for a while and then didn't get updated. Stuff has been happening, I just couldn't have it on my site (short of writing it all out myself manually - urgh no!).
Friday, June 11, 2004
Went to see Troy Wednesday night with my mobile network's Orange Wednesdays offer (buy one ticket, get one free). So yesterday (ish... ok, 2 days ago now) was Troy, next Wednesday will be The Day After Tomorrow and some other time me and Jim will probably go see the new (darker, more grown up) Harry Potter movie. Helen (Jim's other half) isn't a fan of Harry.
It didn't cost me anything (bar the 10p text message to get a number for validation at the cinema), but I bought an ice-cream and some popcorn for Jim/Helen. So what did I think of the film? Some great fight scenes. Well, at least one, the one I'm thinking of being the one right near the start with Achilles involving a sword and a stab. Just one stab. A very well executed one at that, but just the one.
It was of epic proportions - effects; extras (although it depends how many of those were CGI'd); A-list names (Brad Pitt as Achilles, Sean Benn plays a big role, they probably blew the budget on Brad cos there's quite a few unknowns too); and length. It's a long old movie. Not quite LotR length, but plenty long enough. Long enough to notice it.
I liked it, but I wouldn't consider it an epic in the same light as LotR or say Ben Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. Biggest criticism: where was all the mythology? Did they wimp out of explaining Achilles strength? They didn't even make a point of the heel thing. Yeah, he gets shot there; but it isn't treated differently to any of the other damage that causes his demise. Everyone knows about his weak (or just mortal compared to the rest of him) heel - is that a reason for ignoring it? What about the source of the hiding-in-gift-horse idea? At least the right names are there and they didn't try to Americanise it in that way.
The movies I'm really looking forward to this summer are Spiderman 2 (finally saw a full trailer there) and Shrek 2 which should be awesome if it's even half as good as the first one. I am kinda looking forward to the new Harry, but it's not one I'm going to have to see soon.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
What to do...
Over a week since my last post and what have I got to talk about?
Been watching a few films again (on TV, Sky Movies channels are great for that) - 28 days later, Screamers most recently. Both horror/thrillers.
I'm looking forward to seeing some good Simpsons episodes this coming week as Sky 1 are showing their pick of the best of each character's episodes. Looking down the list, I saw a few I'd seen but a lot of them I haven't. How many hundred episodes of Simpsons are there, exactly? A lot, I suspect.
And,... the Bank holiday.. What am I supposed to do with that then? No plans whatsoever and I could either do some Palm development work or just tidy, do a few chores, watch some TV and mess on the 'pute like I'll probably end up doing anyway.
Some people I know from my regular pub are(/were?) off to Homelands, a dance festival. Could do with some kind of outing. Or possible cinema trip? That's an idea. There's the new Harry Potter movie, and The day after tomorrow.
Have a nice weekend whatever you end up doing, if you come up with any great ideas for me in time leave a commant... ;-)
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Tru Calling, a new(ish) show on Sky 1 (for all those with satellite). It's got Eliza Dushku in it (previously "Faith" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), playing a morgue worker who has visions.
Some of the dead bodies brought in speak to her; literally - they call for help and instantly she is whisked back to the start of the day to relive it and try to save their lives. This also gives her a chance to improve things in her personal life. I've been getting quite into it the last couple of weeks (it's only been going a month or so), mainly for the development of Tru's personal life - her dysfunctional family and non-believing brother.
Note: 1st post with new (blogger.com's) comments.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Wowsa.. Blogger.com just (well, since my last blog entry) refurbished their site and did a relaunch.
Looks like some cool stuff, and they support comments now - so I might have to start using them here rather than at commentthis.com. If you've made a comment I'll do my best to shift it over (thought about leaving them on commentthis, but having two links for comments on each post isn't good at all). Although apparently there are conditional tags now, so might be possible to do some date-checking and use the appropriate link around the cross-over point.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
My "Sex and the City" column
A particular conversation from those repeats on C4 put me to thinking...
(in your best Carrie Bradshaw voice...)
Straight women have men for relationships. Women have women for friends. They also tend to get along well with gay guys as friends. But the same thing doesn't work with guys and lesbians. We fantasise about them, that's it. Unfair (in a twisted kind of way)!
I suppose straight guys can get along with gay guys too, but there's still the possibility of sexual tension getting in the way (1-way only).
I don't think I'd ever get myself a newspaper column with that observation somehow.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Repetitive adverts (grr...)
Some digital channels (say, LivingTV as the particular example I'm singling out here that provoked this post) have a tendency of advertising their top/new shows again and again during every single ad break. It gets bloody annoying. When you've seen a trailer for a show about 10 times by the end of an hour program you very soon get annoyed by it. Then they even advertise it in the finishing credits (doing one of those things where they split the screen in half). Grrr.....
Monday, May 03, 2004
BBC2 is 40
Happy birthday BBC2!
They've put up a website at the BBC with some of the old logos and celebrations of BBC2. It's had some real classic shows over the years and although it languishes in obscurity some of the time, and hides some of the shows the BBC aren't yet ready to show to the limelight of BBC1, that tendency going for edgier or harder hitting, more serious and innovative/risky programmes has done it well on many occasions.
There have been some brilliantly conceived logos/channel-id's too, go check the website out if you've got your rose-tinted glasses on for some nostalgia. You can also watch a show on the channel's history at 8pm tomorrow (Tuesday 4th May).
Kill Bill 2: addendum
Having had some time to consider my verdict on KB2 (see original post, below) I've decided that it's not as good a film as the first one; some items from it might even have been better as footnotes or extras on the DVD. David Carradine is great as 'Bill', Uma as Beattrice of course kicks butt again. Being less of fight movie, there isn't anything even nearly as impressive or cool as the Crazy-88 from the first one, but the end scene does something to make up for it and you do wonder whether it's going to end as you thought for a while.
I feel a little guilty for not liking this film as much and wanting bigger fight scenes in it like the first one, cos it is in some ways a different type of film and perhaps I shouldn't be wanting them. But then in others it's the same as the first one so, is it unfair?
It could have been done in one movie, but would have lost out too much and had too much explaining to do.
London: The Greatest City
Just watched a very interesting C4 program on the history of London right from it's beginnings with the Romans in AD43, up to it's current-day geography. Apparently there's a similar documentary on BBC1 in a few days time.
It reminded me how impressive St. Pauls is, and that it's a long time since I last visited it. It espoused the improving architecture that's appearing now (a good thing compared to the older boring, and sometimes even horrible, buildings that have attacked the skyline)
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Kill Bill 2
Went to see Kill Bill vol.2 the other day - not as violent or bloody as the first one, more of a Quentin Tarantino dialog movie. It was worth going to see, and it put some meat on the bones of the character backgrounds from the first movie. I'm not quite sure how much I like it yet though.
Still got a couple of days off from my P.O. work, so time to do my contracted s/w development work instead. There's been some gorgeous weather too, nice for sitting out in the evening in the sun. And getting slightly sunburnt (as I did last Friday round my mate Adam's). I was sitting with just one side facing the sun, so only that half of my face (and neck) got a bit red; luckily it didn't go peely or stay red for very long or it would have been quite embarassing.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
It's my birthday! And I'm not working till next Thursday!
I got the new Guns'n'Roses compilation album - some great classics on there, a couple of DVDs (the 3rd Matrix film + HHgttG) and some other stuff. The G'n'R CD has been on play a lot already.
About to head into town with Jon, and plans exist for later on tonight (pub, a P.O. colleague's daughter has the same birthday as mine), tomorrow (most likely the Hog's Head, with Adam/anyone else who wants, consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages), and Saturday (possibly attending a party); possibly also a Kill Bill 2 outing to the cinema on Sunday.
A Matrix moan (the 1st movie).. Petty but gotta get it off my chest
It's a really petty thing, but whenever I think about that movie, there's always one piece of dialog that bugs me cos the emphasis is just plain on the wrong word. When Neo first chats to cypher (Region 1 DVD, chapter 19 - post import into the real world):
"The image translators work for the construct program"
The emphasis should surely be on "work", if anywhere. Not on the "for". It's not as strong an emphasis as I thought, having just revisited it; but it's wrong!
Monday, April 19, 2004
My birthday's coming up (22nd April), so I expect loads of presents from all of you... Well, anyone who thinks they should do.
Entered a photo competition recently. Not really a pure photo competition judged by esteemed pro's, but just a local village one (or rather, local to where my parents live). Actually it was mainly an RHS arts/crafts show with a bent towards flowers; arrangements and so on.
Got one 2nd out of 4 categories entered; not that great, and I did rush the choice of entries a bit and wished I'd got some more prints done of other ones I wish I could have entered. But shouldn't complain really. There's always next time.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
IRC Q&A with Shaun of the Dead dudes
Q: what would the porn version of SotD be calledA: zombies f*&$ing(swearing censored out as this is a family-viewable website)
Found out some more stuff while there - there's going to be a big book of Spaced stuff, called, surprisingly, "The Big Book of Spaced", and there's another movie(?) project Simon is working on after he's finished promoting SotD (can't remember the name).
Also (prior to the official chat), rumours of a movie of "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" book were appearing. Heard this before, many times over the last 10 years or so; dunno if they're serious but if they are they better not ruin it or make it too commercial and Americanised. I'll kill 'em if they do... ;-)
Monday, April 05, 2004
Starsky and Hutch
Went to see the Starsky and Hutch movie last night - a good film, not as tacky as I expected. Not "great", but a good enjoyable and funny film that was definitely worth going to see. I didn't go in knowing much about it, and you'll have to note I haven't seen many of the old series; but I liked it.
There are some good comedy moments and that red, white-striped Ford Torino is just toooo cool (go if you like wheelspin and V8s - obviously no grip in those rear tyres!). Made me wish mine would wheelspin (all-wheel-drive means it takes serious rain and dropping the clutch from >3000rpm to get any slip; that or a 90° angle take-off from standing with, again, plenty of revs - damn Scooby grip).
Nothing too deep in the storyline, but there is at least a flow to it and a thought-out plot. Unlike Charlie's Angels (particularly #2), which is just a mindboggling non-stop action-packed sequence of stunt and special FX scenes (don't get me wrong, a fun film for it, but very superficial). That style wouldn't have worked as well for this anyway.
Wanna see it after that?
Do it. Do it. Do it.
Monday, March 29, 2004
Thorpe Park outing
Went to Thorpe Park today (theme park) as I said in a previous entry - tacky landscaping, you can tell it was done in the 70s; but they've got a couple of great rides they never had before. I last went at least 10yrs ago - probably more than that, and was still a teenager (I'm 27 now, 28 v.soon) so was more excitable by it all.
If you ever go, you have to go on Nemesis: Inferno. Best rollercoaster I've ever been on. I'm not an expert or even particularly experienced by any means, but it's awesome. Go on the front row - there's a separate queue but it's sooo worth it. Sitting (ok, hanging) from the middle rows is tame in comparison. Although the far back row with the extra whip effect you get comes close.
Collosus is fairly good too, and some bits I have to say are better than Nemesis; but overall Nemesis kicks arse. Well, throws the arse all around and upside down and around again. Then around some more, and hopefully the rest of you goes with it and in the right order. No promises.
Not trying to worry you, just that I rather liked it and am getting all evocative about it. First time I've been on an upside-downy ride for... welll....
Nemesis is one of those where you're not in a 'car', you're hanging down (still in seats of course) from the rail and go around the outside of corners so there's nothing below when you look down (or up, if you're upside down at the time). Coooool! Corkscrews,..
I'm thinking there is a good chance that there are better ones of the same style around the country/world, but it's the 1st time I've been on one of that style purely because I haven't been to a theme park since they invented them. Yeah. I did say I wasn't very experienced with 'coasters.
They still had the "Loggers Leap" log flume ride that gets you wet and (all those years ago) was the 2nd highest in Europe. They've got another wet ride too that's good fun, you get a decent bit of time coming down the slope to enjoy it too before you get soaked/soak everyone else. Including those watching you from one of the walkway bridges over the stream. Ho ho...
I have some digi-cam photos if you're interested (full size versions available on request).
|The Samurai||Colossus||Nemesis: Inferno|
Someone had got some £10 vouchers from a newspaper so it was only £17 to get in, and the food wasn't cheap but it also wasn't as exorbitant as I'd expected so not as expensive a day as I'd thought it might be all in all.
Woah. Longest blog entry ever? Longest in ages anyway. Gotta go to bed though. Early start.
Mad, mad dude...
Being interested in the news item today about NASA finally getting a proper test with their in-research Scramjet technology, I did a bit of web searching and found this site. The dude's a total nutter - check out some of the mpeg downloads...Pulsejet engine projects
I mean, I think I value my life too much to go messing around with home-built jet engines running off LPG/propane.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Ooh, so many to look forward to:
Kill Bill 2
Shaun of the Dead - a RomZomCom with some of the Spaced and Black Books cast + others - I'm very curious
Shrek 2 - with John Cleese, in a voiceover that sounds perfectly cast
Troy (well, maybe worth a watch - not sure)
I'll be going to Thorpe Park this Sunday, that's a theme park down south. I've been there at least twice before, but not since considering myself a fully grown adult. Or to any other theme park. Must have been about 15yrs old when I last went to any theme park. That's a long time ago.
I'm going with work people and hoping the weather will be nice - I've heard 12degrees, so should be warm; handy for the water rides. They have (had, at least) the 2nd highest log flume ride in europe - fun.
So it is weird going to a theme park all grown up?
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Most attractive hair colour
Walk up to a bloke, any bloke. Ask him what kind of hair he prefers on his girls. (on their head, for those with a crude bent ;-). I suspect most people would say long hair, and colourwise, a definite leaning towards blonde.
But I prefer dark. At least for most people. There are occasions when lighter blonde hair looks absolutely gorgeous - mainly on models when they're gorgeous anyway (case in point: Dannii Minogue in the "All I Wanna Do" era, Pamela Anderson sometimes); but brunettes definitely get my vote. Dark blonde works too, or rather not "peroxide" blonde.
But look at the other side (just as examples you'll know (most) of): Kelly Brook, Courteney Cox, Emily Booth, Jayne Middlemiss, Dannii in current form or early 90s "Love and Kisses" (gorgeous), Katie Holmes, Teri Hatcher (earlier superman series before it went short), CZJ). Then there's the fraction-second snatches of Britney (Spears) in the "Toxic" video with long v.dark hair... (ok ok, enough)
I may well be going on a Sunday in the not too distant future - haven't been to a theme park for bloody years.. Could be great fun. Hoping I can afford it - got the money due to come in once I've done my bit of freelance/contract software development work, but until then things are a bit stretched.
I've actually been there twice before, so it will be interesting to see how much the rides have changed. I'm guessing it won't be that warm yet, so the water rides might not be as much fun as they are when you really could do with cooling off (even if that's asking miracles of British weather), but as far as I remember there are some other good ones too.
That might be the park with the (top/2nd??) highest log flume ride in Europe. Or it was, anyway.
I'm not a big fan of rides that take you upside down, but almost anything else I like.
Finally got my 2 fillings done today - due to post-house-move(last year)-non-address-updating, I never heard about my dentist (a nice down to earth easy-going chap from what I've experienced) going on hols. So I couldnt rebook the apt. until a few days before, when I rang up to check times. The last check-up was early January, so it's been a while. Not the sort of thing you want hanging over you, waiting to happen. Local anaesthetic and all so my mouth has been numb up until about 8pm this evening (Wednesday).
The bonus was that it cost less than I expected - more like a normal check-up, and his lovely female assistant who I didn't learn the name of but almost asked out before I left. Damn... It's not like a shop either where you can just go back with a lame excuse, 'cos my next checkup is another 6 months away. Even if I go back to change the time of it (as I might need to, depends if it clashes with my brother's wedding) I'll only see the receptionists.
There's one Q I didn't ask: do I need to take special care brushing my teeth (how long is it still hardening for?) - that would be something I could speak to them about. Although, the assistant won't be there tomorrow, she's got a day off and mentioned that without prompting... Am I crap at taking hints, or am I reading too much in to it? He said something about a particular pub just up the road while I was there...
Or I could go back and pretend I thought I left something there. That's a good excuse to be able to go see them.
Monday, March 08, 2004
What a Week
I'm writing this wrapped up warm in bed, using my palmtop (organiser), cos I'm a bit knackered and it's gone midnight.
I've been out every day:
- Mon/Tuesday-normal (bellringing)
- Wednesday-an interview for some freelance work (which I got — big hurrah)
- Thursday-ate out & saw Big Fish (an ok-to-good film, surprising for Tim Burton (ignore Planet of Apes)). I have to watch Nightmare before Christmas sometime.
- Friday-out with Adam
- Saturday-Liz's bday
- Sunday- possibly getting Liz pissed again
Monday, March 01, 2004
Just a link I thought half-worth posting - pinhole photographs by a Mr. Justin Quinnell, including a whole series taken as though from inside a guys mouth (ie. all framed by teeth and gums).
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
I'm looking forward to seeing Spiderman 2 when it's released - I saw a teaser trailer for it a few weeks ago (downloaded it) which has a real "whoa..." moment. Green goblin has gone (those who saw the 1st one know why) and Doctor Octo is the new bad guy. I've heard from real fans of the comics that Octo should be a much better adversary anyway - I don't remember them well enough to know (still have quite a few somewhere back at my parents place, probably hiding in the roof).
Top ten-pin tally
Went bowling again for the first time in a few years last week. I used to go regularly every week with my mate for a few months, but that was ages ago. So you'd think I'd be seriously out of practice and scoring badly. The first game, I was.
But then, through maybe some kind of fluke, or just getting back into the knack quite quickly - I beat my personal best and got 172. That included a Turkey (I'm sure that helped a lot). My best used to be 150-something, average around 130.
Saw The Cube again the other night round a mate's. There is a nice slicing moment, but not really anything special otherwise.
It's kind of like the Crystal Maze on steroids. And more deadly.
Don't believe the article below. I don't. Not a word of it.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
I took a test...
Oh dear. I did a test from Match.com about whether I understand if women want me or not. Sad.
But at least I got this answer (I'm "The Master"... believe that at your own peril).
I'm only talking about the house. Liz (flatmate) is moving out. Has moved out, actually. Still a load of stuff here that's hers, but the big stuff is gone. It's only down the road too; she's moved with her new(well, 6 months ish) boyfriend to a place a couple of miles down the road. So I have the place to myself. Apart from Dave (the landlord) who's hardly in anyway (spends all his time at work, down the pub, or asleep).
It also means no smoke (they're both smokers; I'm not), a whole Sky Digital box to myself (had to share it with Liz before), and I have plans for the room she left too (guest room/upstairs TV room, has my sofa-bed in there anyway). No change to my rent or anything as we're just renting rooms.
I was working in the morning (Wednesday), and having offered to help Liz move, knew I'd be busy in the afternoon/evening so stopped for a crafty half in the local Hog's Head for a break. Ended up not eating anything till the evening either.
So I got home, Liz had decided she couldn't rely on her ex-husband to help out with his Transit van and had booked a van for hire. She then booked a cab for me to go pick it up, and I spent the rest of the day helping move furniture, drive it up and down the hill to the new place, and unpack it.
I got some money for it (didn't ask for any, just got given some and tried (not too hard ;-) to turn it down) and I'll make a bit more out of the cashback on my credit card from paying for various new things they've ordered; also got the cash back to cover it today so that's going straight into the ISA until I need it... Sorted.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Hit a penguin
Go check out http://www.stulacey.co.uk/penguin.swf - it's a fun little game written in macromedia flash; basically, penguin baseball. See how far you can hit it - my record is 316.9 after a good few goes.
Click to launch, then click to hit as he falls - you have to get the timing right as if you click too early (and don't miss), the flight arc means he lands on his nose and won't slide any further. Click too late and he just slides on the ice without getting any height.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Hurrah. Comments work. Thanks Haloscan. As you can now see, anyway. Got them working Sun eve's actually; just been playing with the formatting (stylesheet) to try and make it look ok. Fans (huh.. what fans?) of this page may notice I'm moving away from the orange theme I picked originally, and shifting to blue. Mm.. "shifting to blue" - sounds like a nice title of some exhibition or cultural something. It'll get better with time; especially as I get to know CSS better.
Sunday, February 01, 2004
An (old) entry from my PDA
This entry was written on my PDA (PalmOS-based) while other of my fellow bellringers were ringing for a wedding. I was looking for something to do...
My new hairstyle (as of 27th Jan, I think) seems to be well liked - I'd had the old one far too long. I had contemplated the change to shorter, spikier locks for a few months (about 3 haircuts) & chickened out each time. I like it too, which is the important thing. Feeling better about hair = better self-confidence.
Gotta get comments working here
Unfortunately blogger.com don't (as yet) allow comments on their free member accounts, so I've started looking into other ways of doing it.
- CommentThis - but the setup process (online) didn't work and managed a wonderful job of crashing IE (and Windows sometimes) whenever I tried it.
- Haloscan - in progress
Pool Tourney update
As expected, I crapped out after one game of pool at the tournament (at my local pub, see the relevant entry). So just an expensive game of pool really (although, at £2, only 80p more than normal for that table). I was playing against my mate Adam in the first round and although I have beaten him before, I didn't expect to. At least I didn't come away feeling I should have done better. So someone else won a nice cue and the cash prize.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
Got a Geek Code? Get a Blogger Code!
Blogger code, the new improved version of the old geek code, for bloggers.
B1 d t k- s- u-- f- i- o+ x e- l+ c(click to decode it using the bloggercode site)
Leccy guitars are cool. They just are. Jon and I were wondering around town last week, and he was after some new strings and to sell his bass, so of course we went into the local guitar shop and I had a browse. I've never learned to play one (although I have grade 6 at piano) but they do hold a fascination and a power that's hard to resist.
Friday, January 23, 2004
Happy New (Chinese) Year
Happy Chinese new year to anyone reading this who respects it (slightly late - it was Thursday), in particular my mate Jon. We went out last night to watch The Last Samurai to celebrate. Ok, so we just went to see it really. Not to celebrate or anything. And I had a cheap curry on Wednesday as preparation for it.... (my regular pub was doing a deal - £3 for a curry, rice and naan - not bad).
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Anyone got a pool table I can borrow?
My regular (pub) is having a pool tournament Tuesday week (27th), and if you have a pool table at home I can come and practice on I'd be very grateful if I could borrow it for a day between now and then...
Not really that serious a request and there's not a snowball's chance in hell I can hope to win the prize of my own cue, but should be fun to play - if I can win more than one or two games. Otherwise I'll just sit back and watch Adam (my mate) play, cos he's a decent player.
Sporty car + tipsy girls = pull?
Does it? I've never yet tried it, 'cos I don't want to attract the sort of girl who'd go out with me just cos I have a fast car. But in the absence of any other happenings, and probably being close to when I have to sell my Scooby, a last ditch attempt to make use of it may be called for and just say sod-it. I'll have to get Adam along and pull up outside a club or something around chucking-out time. Or just be in there and happen to mention I'm driving home and could offer lifts, and oh yes, I've got a Subaru Impreza Turbo (although the ladies are half as likely to say "what's that then"!). It's not quite the same as having a BMW, Porsche, or Ferrari etc. although very nearly as quick.
Should sort the tyres out first (might need new rears) so there's no worries over the car's handling especially if it's wet.
Realised last night that it's coming up for Valentine's Day again in only a month or so - will be my 2nd consecutive one as a single bloke in ages. I'm trying to remember whether I went out or stayed in last year, will definitely be out this year - it's a Saturday so I'd most likely be out anyway. I hope Adam'll be coming out too. It'll probably just be an extra reason to feel lonely. If I get a date then or before, I'll eat my hat (well, ok, first I'd get hold of a hat made of bread or cheese or something).
Well, the dentists, went ok apart from one thing; I've got a couple of small fillings that need to be done so I'm booked back in early February. But while in the chair being checked up and having the usual teeth clean, I got chatting to his (new?) assistant, a rather attractive girl so that helped ease the distress.
Monday, January 12, 2004
I'm booked in tomorrow, let's hope my teeth pass with flying colours (or with "pearly white", anyway). Some people really hate the dentist and will do almost anything to avoid going; I don't mind 'cos going regularly concentrates the mind as the appointment gets closer so you make sure you make extra effort to clean your teeth well and often. This also means that if there's any problems, rather than not knowing until they get bad and very expensive to fix and causing you grief and drilling; they are picked up more regularly. Just a basic check-up as usual (and maybe a clean) isn't horrendously expensive.
Do I suffer worse than other blokes from sensitive under-chin skin? It makes shaving there into an annoyance (a sore, red, annoyance), so a lot of the time I just give it a miss as long as it doesn't look really bad - especially if I'm wearing a shirt and tie (as I do for work) which helps hide that area.
I use creams after shaving to try and keep it from getting too dry, but they aren't magic. It's just that area - shaving the face doesn't cause any problems at all.
Just heard from a mate that the price for a single one-way journey on the tube is going up to £2. That's atrocious. You could almost buy a pint for that. I think I'd rather sit in a pub somewhere sipping a nice cold pint than pay £2 for a trip on the tube.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Hurrah! Finally got a nice user-friendly Linux running on my main desktop PC. That would be Suse v8.2. The bad news is that I'm not using it the majority of the time yet, cos I haven't sorted out my broadband dial-up through anything else than Win98 on this box. Other things come first; at least I have a firewall on my Windows box.
Suse is one I've never dabbled with before. I've had Slackware (about 3 different versions over the years), Redhat, and Mandrake (most recently). Slackware's fine, but it doesn't really help you set it up beyond the basics. I needed to do some extra installs/work to get my Speedtouch USB modem running anyway, including copying the hardware over from my Windows drive partition.
I like it so far, very easy menus during the install and nicely configurable. Time will tell whether it's my preferred choice.
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Life in the solar system
Planetary life on Mars/Europa; particularly after reading the full Odyssey 2001/2010/2061 series (or whatever the years are), it's something that's always fascinated me - those deep deep oceans on Europa in particular. Europa, btw, is a decent sized moon of Jupiter. So decently sized, in fact, that it's almost Earth-sized (which is a mere 6400Km radius at the equator).
Has life ever developed there - whether the most basic singular cell (or whatever equivalent) form, or even sea creatures the likes of which might remind us of early Earth life? I'm very interested to see what, if anything, the probes we've sent out return when they get there. Is it feasible to dig down through the ice (it may meters thick, several Km thick, or several hundred/thousand Km thick - we don't really know for sure).
Someone please tell me when we know.
That "new duvet" feeling
Remember the Crunchie ad's - the "That Friday Feeling" ones? Well, getting a new duvet cover is proving to have the same effect. It's just really nice to be lying under and on top of a new sheet and duvet cover combo, even though the duvet itself, and for that matter the pillows, are pretty old. Just that really fresh sheets feeling that still want to stay the same shape, plus new design that I chose myself (rather than use borrowed covers). Makes you want to stay in bed longer in the mornings, unfortunately; also makes it easier to get to bed/sleep at night though.
What is it about nice duvet's that just makes you feel so good when you're in bed? A human sandwiched in good quality cotton, cool and fresh against bare skin. Nothing quite like it. Well, not without involving more bare skin of whichever sex turns you on, anyway... ;-)
Has anyone actually tried or succeeded at any of the online dating searches or even just used them to go to events with lots of single MOTOS? I'd like to hear your stories/opinions. Been seriously considering it recently; I already put up a profile on one of the UK sites (not saying which to avoid embarassment). Stems from me sucking at having the courage to do anything other than chat to girls (if I can even get that far) as friends. There are some I'm happy just to get to know as friends anyway. But at least if you meet someone through a specific dating forum or event, you know you're both there to try and meet people as potential dates; that should (??) make the whole thing a lot easier 'cos you don't have to try and move it that direction. Speed dating sounds a very tempting idea. Although I don't always (I'm sure) come across as a great first impression. Or just being invited to parties/hanging with friends and getting to meet lots more people - as I've mentioned in here before.
- Members of the Opposite Sex
Saw Bedazzled (the newer Liz Hurley-as-devil version) again - well, hadn't seen it from the start. I know it's not that great, and the original is probably better (Michael Caine as the devil I think?); but Liz does look nice in most of her outfits.
Shoulda watched more movies over the festive season - just kinda didn't care enough to set them to record, or had seen them at the cinema/on DVD and wasn't motivated enough to sort out tape space for them. Which reminds me, I really need to sort out my tape archiving database so I know what the hell I have on what tape. Another thing to add to my to-do list...
Had a good new year. Spent (or lost - not sure...) way too much money, so probably going to be staying in for a few of my usual regular (but less important) nights out for a week or two. Been playing Quake 3 again - so much nicer on broad band but I'm out of practice. Been listening to internet radio stations - mainly a selection of the chilled out ones listed at Winamp.com, late at night (ie. 1am onwards).
Been a weird few days actually; what with recovering from new year (woke up at quarter to 11, didn't really move much till 2pm or so), and trying to do a few household things/room tidying.