Monday, December 19, 2005

The week that was...

... busy!

Wow... Well, that was some week. I spent almost no time at home so Saturday day-time and today has just been catching up on household stuff (you know, boring essentials like washing). Found out my brother's now got ADSL over in Canada this evening so caught up with him. Haven't chatted in quite a while, since they moved out there in fact - a few months ago.

The whole week was full of clubbing, meeting people, and oh yes, two Christmas dinners. I can tell you about the dinners, and I can tell you about the clubs in general, but anything beyond that isn't really safe content for this blog... I need another one to log stuff like that. Say, on a site more dedicated to the topics. Oh! (does a little fake double-take to self)

The first dinner was our annual bellringer's Christmas do for my local tower I ring at, which we had at a good pub in Crondall - The Plume and Feathers. Very nice food indeed, ok service (there was a longer delay between courses than would have been ideal, but it didn't matter much). My duck, cooked like a steak, was amazingly tasty - it's a long time since I've had duck that tasty. A good evening all round.

The second one (the very next day - so I didn't bother to eat much breakfast or lunch) was my work dinner, at Dover St. Restaurant, Mayfair, London. We were fair packed into one end of this jazz themed place on three long tables. The food was quite decent, and they have live jazz music (although some of it varied from pure jazz) playing til 10pm. Then the band packs up and they open the space up as a dance floor. I had good fun, and we ended up having a shot-drinking competition between the tables.

Luckily this challenge didn't outlast everybody's sanity or stomach health. Each table tried to concoct up their next drink and then they'd order a table's worth of it so 15 to 20-odd (rough guess) shots arrived with the poor waiter trying hard not to spill any. They were getting more special or exclusive to try and beat the last one and we ended up with a pear liqueur and something-else (that I completely forget, yes I was getting tipsy by this point) specially made for us by the barman. We also had some colula (spelling?) which I rather liked. I don't think I've tried that before. Very warming, in a nice way. It almost reminded me of goldschager - which is completely evil, by the way and not served at many places. That's the one that contains little shards of gold metal in it to make it sparkle and tend to have a not-entirely-health-giving effect on your throat as you swallow - gets it into the bloodstream quicker, so someone said on my birthday a few years ago.
We didn't win quantity wise (just 2nd), but I thought we were far ahead in originality, which I like to think of as the superior win... Intellectually at least :-)

Just a pity I left before the end of the evening to catch the last train back from Waterloo at 0:05, as it went on til 3am (though I don't know if any stayed that late). I got back at 1.40am. I didn't really want to go, but with the busy days I had planned ahead, I thought I should. Luckily I'd booked Thursday and Friday off work, but Thursday (and part of Friday, with an unplanned stopover) was still taken up meeting a good friend and being introduced to someone else I'd chatted to before but not met. Another very good couple of days, with another nice meal out in the evening (in Arundel, this time)!

I'm glad I had Friday late noon and Saturday daytime free to rest and do stuff at home, 'cos I went out clubbing in London last night and didn't get back home til about 3pm today. I was just leaving home to go out as everyone else was coming back from the pub. I usually leave earlier for my club outings, and I only just caught the last tube trains on my way there from Waterloo. I'm not sure how easy or hard it would have been by night-bus or cab and I'm glad I didn't have to find out.

I did get some sleep early in the morning after dancing and chatting/chilling, but not quite enough - I hope I caught up enough with a nap earlier but I really should be getting to bed now.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Hemel Hempstead Oil/Gas Explosion

I'm sure anyone in the UK has now heard of the explosion that ocurred Sunday morning at just after 6am in Hemel Hempstead in the UK. If you live in the home counties, it's fairly likely you also saw the smoke plume as it drifted across the South-East. I did a google search this morning at work and maybe I didn't use suitable enough terms, but I came up with almost nothing. Just the normal news sites.

There are some pictures on a colleague's brother's fotothing account though. news link
BBC News has more info


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Busy busy busy

I've got a hectic schedule next week so you might not see any posts for a while, although ironically I'll be wanting to post more because of all the stuff I'll be doing.

Two Christmas dinners (Tuesday/Wednesday), a few meet-ups, and going out in London (clubs/a fair) keep me busy from this Sunday for at least a week.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogger Backlinks

Great! Blogger (the people who provide the services for this blog if you didn't know already) finally implemented a trackback-alike service, although they're calling them "backlinks". Having read the documentation they're not quite the same as, and don't support the same interface as, a trackback. That's why they're not called trackbacks. I never got around to quite finishing implementation of haloscan's trackback support, so it's nice that Blogger have added this. It seems that everything haloscan add tools for, blogger eventually add themselves; but you might have to wait a while. Having it all integrated is nice anyway. Is the trackback standard going to be supported anytime soon blogger?

As I use my own custom template, and it's been modified quite a bit, blogger's automatic tool couldn't figure out where to put the code into my template so I'm having to do it myself - although they do supply information on how to do it. I'm doing it my own way of course, taking their tags and putting them where I want with the text I want. So apologies if it's slightly broken in the first few days while I play with the layout.

I ought to get fixing the drop-down on the bottom of the right sidebar too, 'cos that list of archive months is getting a little big. As I said before I'll try to keep it usable for browsers without javascript support (or with it turned off); not that there'll be many (any?) it'll affect. If it does, why don't you add a comment/mail me? If you don't understand you probably don't need to worry.

PS: edited 'cos I originally presumed backlinks were just trackbacks by another name.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Podcast reviews

I've listened to a few podcasts now, so here's my opinion on a few of the techy-oriented ones. Note: most of these can sometimes/often contain language or even songs you might not want your granny to hear (except the Palm ones and ReelReviews, you're pretty safe there).

  • PalmForums - own a handy rss feed, but for the podcast - dull, boring voice. Try the usually bite-sized PalmAddicts instead - at least a bit more interesting.
  • Daily Source Code - he can be an arse, but he is the 'PodFather' and if you want to keep up with what's happening in the podcasting world - especially on how it's meeting the real-world media - it's worth keeping an eye on Adam Curry's 'cast (or at least his rss feed). Hard work to keep up though now it's regularly daily (as I mentioned recently)
  • Dawn and Drew - funny, risque, rude, crass, downright distasteful at times; but more than enjoyable. The best and funniest 'cast about nothing-in-particular that I know of. Now daily.
  • Reel Reviews - the best movie reviews podcast I've come across, particularly for pointing out older classics you might not have seen yet.
  • LUG Radio - the most entertaining Linux podcast around and with enough clout to get interview time with big cheeses of various important sizes from the big companies/organisations in Linux (Novell, KDE, IBM GNU to name a few), they held a Linux Expo earlier this year too. Occasionally silly, a group of four that's sometimes hard to follow if they're all talking at once, but well worth your time.
  • Keith and the Girl - another one with a (New York-based) couple talking about whatever they want, kind of interesting but not strong enough to stay on my subscriptions; I don't quite have the time for anything I'm not going to really look forward to the next episode of.

Mobile Phone Key-clicks

I was on the train back home some weeks ago and may even have been in the "quiet please" carriage that requests you not to use mobile phones so people can get some rest/even to sleep on the way back. Every now and then there was a loud beep, and I suspected it was a mobile phone but I wasn't all that sure. It was starting to really get on my nerves. It wasn't a standard "message-arrived" beep and I can't imagine it was a call coming in, I didn't hear anyone talking on a call after; was it a keypress beep? Unlikely, too few and far between. So what? It got me thinking (rant mode on).

What is it with mobiles that makes people bestow such slavishness to them? Please have some respect. You're not locked away in your own little room the second your mobile (or 'cell' as the Americans call it) starts ringing, other people do exist. Just imagine how you'd react if it wasn't a mobile but another person trying to get your attention when you were busy talking or doing something with someone else. 'Cos that's basically what it is. If it was important enough, wouldn't you apologise to the original person before saying you had to speak to the caller? You certainly wouldn't just ignore the person you were socialising with, even if it's a clerk/assistant at a shop. They're people too you know.

Maybe I should also consider forming The Fellowship Against Awful Ringtones or something? Ok. Rant mode off.



Wow what a bold title for a post. Bet it got your attention pretty quick! Especially considering my straight-laced normal posts! So what can I possibly be wanting to write about this time?

Well, Erotica is a show every year in London (Olympia, part of Earl's Court exhibition centre) with a theme of - you guessed it - erotica. I'd pondered about going to it several years back but hadn't been interested enough or thought the cost was worth it (travel, probably staying up there from where I was living at the time, plus the ticket, then probably walking round on my own and being much less confident than I am now). Now, however, I have the all-important Travelcard so getting up to and about in London costs me nowt; it was just the ticket cost (not that cheap mind - Saturday's was £24.50 being the biggest day) and anything I ended up buying. Which, luckily for my credit card bill this month, wasn't a lot. Give me an unlimited budget I might have spent a fair bit more.

Actually the most expensive thing I bought was rather boring - more shoe wax/polish. Yes, see what I mean! Perhaps I shouldn't have admitted to that but left you pondering instead...

So what prompted this? Why did I decide to mention it in my blog rather than let it by without a mention (you'd be surprised how much I've got up to recently that isn't in here...)

I suppose it's that I have explored and got to know myself better over the last year or two, that I've been having fun again after being single for far too long (hmmmmm... wishes he hadn't had such a late start in some areas) - don't worry I'm careful, and have become a lot more confident and open to talk about certain things.

PS I have other draft blogs ready to go once I've finished and edited them down a bit. Expect a few to appear at once when I get round to it (edit: err... about now!). Hopefully I'll remember to do something about their time-indices so they appear in some kind of order.


Improbably good HHGttG DVD extra

As soon as I'd seen Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy at the cinema, I knew I was going to want it on DVD. I own better movies on DVD, but the fondness for the original book/radio won over, there was a bit of the collector in me, and they did quite a good job with most of it anyway. So I ordered it soon after it was out, and it turned up quite a while ago. I only just watched it properly the other night - although I'd had a flip through the menus when I got it. The movie was still too fresh in my mind or I didn't have the time to watch it again. But I stayed up to watch the best bits again and see all the extras; Monday I think it was. In doing so, I discovered quite the most fun and best implemented feature I've come across for a long time on a DVD. Oh, the making-of feature is pretty interesting too (as they go); but the star for me is the "improbability drive". In the series, this is what drives the "Heart of Gold" ship that Arthur and Ford get picked up in (without ruining too much of the storyline for those new to it). They've implemented a way to pick a random special-feature to go to using this as an analogy, and the clip you get to see before it jumps to it is very cool, done in the same way as the movie, and fun.

Well done, Spyglass entertainment (and/or Touchstone pictures).

I have to say again, how well the Trillian character has been cast - although maybe that's just in comparison to the TV series. Zoey's sexy, intelligent, and has the right sort of chemistry with Arthur. I've already reviewed it so I won't repeat myself anymore.


Evangelical trailers

The Americans have started advertising movies, or religious-linkable movies (theoretically, anything with a good-overcomes-bad message??? ie. a large majority of all movies!?) in churches. I've just been watching ABC News (via the odd roundup they show on BBC News 24) and was appalled that they've let commercialism in like that. I know some religious sects over there (and, surely, elsewhere) are rather dodgy and seem like money-making schemes for their leaders; but this immediately made me think of that section in the bible where Jesus goes round overturning the gamblers and traders in the churches where he was growing up. Apparently they want to try and capitalise on the evangelist 'market segment' (ugh, even calling it a market segment seems wrong...)