Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Grrrr!

Right. That's it. I've had enough of lovefilm.com, the online DVD rental service. Despite having recommended this service to everyone and their dog, they have, in the final analysis, let me down through neglect. Basically, their customer service policy, in my opinion, sucks the sweat off a dead penguins nad sack.

They keep constantly sending me series out of order. I complained, repeatedly, but they didn’t even grace me with a reply. This started towards the end of the X-Files marathon but has just got ridiculous. Why would I want to watch episode 6 of something before episode 1. Poor customer service, and slack data-basing. Worse still, while new customers (judging by the people I’ve recommended) receive preferential treatment, I’ve had nowt from the top 20 items in my ‘wants list’ for the last month and a half. This has ceased to be a service and turned into a constant annoyance.

Today, I have told them to shove it. They asked why and then just said 'oh right' as though it happens all the time. I'm now going to try ScreenSelect.com, which allows me to watch series in order by default and promises to find me any R2 DVD not already in their catalogue. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We got a Date

The house is a go.

Completion is, allegedly, on the 17th of Feb.

In Jemas words: "I'm really nervous now. What if it's haunted?"

Bless.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Google China

To get themselves the licence for China, Google has done something questionable and, I believe, against the 'spirit' of the WWW.

It has agreed to 'omit Web content that the country's government finds objectionable'. This means, basically, that they are going to base their results for the http://www.google.cn/ on censorship decisions and guidance provided by Chinese government officials.

Though China has 'loosened' some of its moral and informational controls in recent years, some topics (like the independence of Taiwan and the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre) are still banned reading.

This is nothing new, as Google does the same thing with their German and French engines to remove references to 'Nazi paraphernalia'. These subjects, excluded from the German and French engines, are not as current and immediate as this latest move. This new step reeks more of Orwellian governmental oppression and the suppression of free information by corporations desperate to cash in on an expanding market, to the detriment of truth and through the repression of news and information. These are current issues of civil rights.

Strangely, and sadly, I feel as though they have let us down. Is not the net, after all, the very epitomy of the symbol of global free speech? Are Google not 'the little geek guy made good' and shouldn't they echo the voice of that global free speech? Apparently not.

Very sad indeed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Google Maps New Rez

The beautiful people at Google have now gone that step further. 2 steps further in fact. Google Local now has an extra couple of zoom levels.

This now brings it in line with the finest and most addictive waste of works time since solitaire, Google Earth (which will be sweet for the Linux geeks who don't get to play with it like the rest of us do).

Check out the full skinny on the Official Google Blog, and check this image for resolution (don't they look like little patriotic ants, flocking to their queen? Okay, maybe not…)

If you haven’t seen this already, check out the roof of Andromeda too, cos we're near the airport we're higher rez anyway.

Mmmmm, Area 51...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Up The Old Man

With a need to see the Pig (for his birthday) and to blow some cobwebs away, we ventured up The Old Man of Coniston with the dog yesterday. This being something of a tradition of 3 or 4 years standing, to go somewhere and walk something.

Coniston Old Man is in the south west of the Lake District and it's one of Lakeland's higher fells. It's a steep walk (with 3 peaks over 2500 feet) of around 5 miles or so (took about 5.5 hours, but we were dawdling) and we managed to get a bit of geocashing in while we were at it. I wouldn't call it arduous.

The weather was uncharacteristally clement for our regular 'Pigs Birthday Walk', even as we walked along the ridge line, and the mist blowing up from the vally looked suitably dramatic without freezing our nuts off.

Great views and plenty of tarns and world-weary sheep. Holly (the dog) loved it, and was well up for even the wettest and least pooch friendly of gill scrambling.
At 803 metres (2276 feet) the Old Man of Coniston is (I suppose) a small mountain, which should have been a challenging enough climb for Winter weight Spaniel. Not so the Holly dog.

What the Old Man has is views. Two stunning lakes and the dramatic sight of Goats Water (tarn) cowering under the dark cliffs of Dow Crag. The return path passes another tarn, with sparkling copper/green tinged water (in contrast with the dark face of Goats Water) that brought out the geologist in his-knibs. The conical summit also provided an occasional eye-full of the Langdale Pikes and the much trodden Scafell range.

There were a fair number of waterproofed middle aged couples and coaches of forign students hanging about, especially on the way down, where
the sides of the Old Man were, at some point, the home to extensive copper mining and slate quarrying. The bucket lift etc. is still visible and gaggin' for A level photography students, loaded with Ilford XP2, to swarm over it like snapping locust.

Once past the quarry workings, the path leads on to Church Beck (near the YHA), and the last stretch follows the bank of the stream (which includes a series of waterfalls and lethally tempting plunge pools) back to the village.

A pint and pork snacks in the pub in Coniston, then spent the evening eating curry and copiloting Pig on God of War, while Holly slept.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Further Podding

Two new feeds up and running today.

Drop em in your iTunes and help my click-through rates would ya...

· Erik Petersen’s Podcast - an American guy living in Nottingham, gives us his view from stateside. A Conneticut Yankee in the court of Robin Hood...

http://content.thisis.co.uk/podcasts/erik_petersen/thisis-erik-petersen.rss

· Jeremy Lewis’s Podcast - Nottingham Evening Post features editor, Jeremy Lewis, has a grumble about the things, and people, who get him hot under the collar...

http://content.thisis.co.uk/podcasts/jeremy_lewis/thisis-jeremy-lewis.rss

Fingers crossed these'll generate some traffic. We have plans to take this a bit further, doing group discussions starting with Derby County match reports, with some new kit I've ordered. We'll see how it goes.

All current
Nottinghamshire podcasts can be viewed: HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Buyer says 'Yes'

Go on then.

We decided tonight to say 'yes' to the sellers.

We can't actually afford furniture (literally, 'till we flog Andromeda) but house prices have gone mental this month and the mortgage was a sweet deal.

We like the house and we don't want to be struggling to find somewhere else we like, like last time. Sod that.
We're in agreement. We're gonna go for it .

I can't believe the pityful lack of advice or input from these estate agents though. I wonder if they're all this useless? I suppose it's not us paying them so they don't care, but they haven't even tried to 'sell' us this place...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Blog

Somewhere to stick the virals - 365 Virals.

A work in progress to test SEO stuff with. It's doing a weirdy in Explorer at the moment, and only seems to display okay in Firefox.

Oddness.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No More Public Transport

ROF is just plain dead and, having just done a week on the bus and train (due to the guy who was spoking my rim having to rush off to watch his Mrs. give birth), I'm finally back on the Marin this morning.

I'm oddly nervous of anything approching from the left, but glad to be back at it. The first puncture was oddly reassuring.

It's incredible, but it's nearly an hour quicker for me to ge to and from work on my bike instead of relying on (overpriced) British public transport. It's no wonder nobody uses the trains anymore.

The only enjoyable part was a bacon butty (£1.70 with a free coffee from the place near Notts station, 'Sandwich Box' or something) and time to read the Metro...

Back to being 'on time' for work. Still no news from the Police.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Seller says 'No'

We've finally got all the quotes for the repairs on the new house and it's around £3k. We gave them to the estate agent and the sellers say 'no'. They don't want to foot the bill so we've either got to swallow it ourselves (which genuinly means no furniture) or tell 'em to go hang. The estate agents have been useless and offered no advice or options. Criminal considering they know we're (technically) fist time buyers.

Big decision that we're both nervous about making, but the more often we pop in as we're passing to look at the garden etc., the more I like it.

In the meanwhilst, DIY is prolific aboard the good ship
Andromeda, in the hope of getting her Bristol fashion prior to putting her on the market. Sad that the best she'll ever look will be on her day of sale...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Yummy Viral Goodness

I do like my virals, and my mash-ups, and my mate Dave knows it.

A classic blonde Soho booth babe in white lingere does the business to the excellent Sunshine of Your Love (Cream Vs The Hoxtens).

Go and Get the Whole Thing.

That brightened up my afternoon. Cheers dude.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Wow! Infotainment!

The wife has a new album out.

The new radium88 album, Wow! Infotainment!, is up for grabs at CDBaby (US based) for the bargain price $10 (plus p+p). There are samples of all the tracks etc. If you're in the UK, visit the site at radium88.net and mail Tim a cheque, for a measly £7.50.

It's got all the good stuff they couldn't find a home for. They are spacemen amongst monkeys.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tragic Accident

I feel stupid for even thinking my problems were an issue.

Four people were killed today, including a 14-year-old lad, when a driver lost control of their car and ploughed into a group of 12 cyclists from Rhyl Cycling Club on the iced-up A547 near Abergele in North Wales.

This will, no doubt, raise many fresh issues on the matter.

The police have said: "The driver has lost control because of the ice on the road. There is no indication to suggest that this is down to something like excessive speed… …there is nothing to suggest the driver did anything but lose control and on the face of it this seems to be a terrible accident."

Offering opinion on this I am compelled to say, despite this driver not being thought to be speeding and having “lost control because of the ice on the road” (skidded on black ice), that if you’re driving too fast for the road conditions then you’re speeding – no matter how fast or how slow you’re travelling – and if you can’t judge the road conditions then you shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle on a public highway. Period.

This is an incredibly sobering catastrophe. My deepest condolences and sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

John Webster

Advertising deity, and hero of mine, John Webster (the creator of characters like the Smash Martians, the Honey Monster, the Hofmeister and Cresta bears and Arkwright for John Smith's) died yesterday at the age of 71 while out jogging.

John was a genius, an innovator in his field, and one of the godfathers of British advertising. He leaves behind a classic legacy of truely brilliant adverts.

Last year, the Cadbury's Smash campaign was voted ITV's Best Ad Ever.

Friday, January 06, 2006

First Bump of ‘06

To start the New Year, as if the weather wasn’t bad enough, I got run into this morning.

There I was, lit up like a Christmas tree, and this bloke pulled out from a side-road, straight into me. I knew he was going to. You know, when you don’t quite make eye contact with them and they’re going just that bit too fast approaching the junction. I thought “here we go” and slapped on the anchors but he pulled into the side of me and bent the forks, spazzed the brakes and bananad the front wheel. I think the frame might be twisted too. I kept all teeth and I just got a bruised sholder out of it, luckily.

I pick myself up and he comes over and he says “Sorry mate, I didn’t see ya, it’s dark”. Er, hence the twin 20watt halogens and the reflective vest matey.

Then he says, after he sees the damage, “I’ll just get you some cash” and goes to his car and drives off! I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, I got his reg, ha!

M427 UAU, a white thing. Might have been a Fiesta.

So I called the police (and I swear the copper couldn’t have been older than 19 (yes, I’m aware of the middle age bloke “Aren’t policemen looking younger these days” thing, but it’s true)) and Jema came out to get me. This was double embarrassing as it looked liked I’d been knocked off by a bright yellow Smart car.


I couldn’t believe it though. All my suspicions and irresponsible driver jokes are hereby confirmed.

I hope they find him. Jizmoppinshiteweasel.

Looks like ROF maƱana...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Who Toys

New Dr. Who desk fodder, lovingly cribbed
from the latest Argos catalogue.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Startin’ Poddin’

Just finished getting the new podcasts live for work. They’re pretty rough and ready but it’s a start.

Our resident political commentator Paul Linford is looking at the big stories in UK politics for the previous week. It’s basically
podcasts of our daily parliamentary news and comment from ThisIs and, hopefully, it’s going to turn into a regular thing.

I’m doing the editing, recording and the feeds etc., Tim did the jingle, Paul provides the vocal talent to his own articles. Paul also has his own blog, on blogger, about UK politics, which you can check out here.

There'll be a new one every Friday, hopefully.


Monday, January 02, 2006

DVD Review – Street With No Name

In 1948 life was black and white, Mulder and Scully hadn’t yet shattered the credibility of the G Men, and organised crime cruised the "street with no name" that ran from coast to coast across the US of A.

Almost like some ‘fly-on-the-wall’ of the time, this shameless FBI propaganda reel aimed to educate American audiences that, unless citizens themselves were more alert and started fighting back against crime, they would soon be will be overrun by the hoodlums and organized criminals of the day.

After two gang-related killings in "Center City" (probably Los Angeles) a framed man is arrested, released on bail, then murdered.

Enter Gene Cordell, a young agent who goes undercover in Skid Row as a hard up pugilist and soon runs into Alec Stiles, the neurotic mastermind who (in FBI speak) is "building an organization along scientific lines”. Here he finds himself embroiled in this Machiavellian ring of vice, guns, gambling and crime.

Is it enjoyable? Yes. This hard-bitten world is served without cynicism and, because of this films age, it comes across as a genuine piece of true film noir that is both well directed and a fine example of the genre. It has an edge born of shadows classic cinematography.

Do take a look at the commentary track, were film scholars and noir experts James Ursini and Alain Silver give a smashing insight through production information, the interpretation of educated theorists and through historical background info.

Movie: 3 of 5

Extras: 2.5 of 5

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Vitaly 25

Vitaly Friedman, the renowned Germany web jock from Saarbruecken (and exponant of simple, accessible and user/SEO-friendly web design), has the best darn blog article I've seen in a long time on his site today.


If you work in web, or have an interest in developing new media, this is Jehovah sent.

While I'm giving him a plug, take a butchers at his 'Essential Bookmarks for Web-Designers & Web-Developers' project as well.

Hero. Gentleman. Scholar.