Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Life Online

Way back in the mists of time, I read an article about some guys who were creating a thing called Netscape. Their vision was that everything would be done remotely through the web browser, preferably theirs. Sadly for them, Micro$oft muscled in and flattened the emerging competitor by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. By the time the lawsuits finished, the damage had been done, and though Netscape is still around, it's use seems to be limited to die hard fans. But the vision has taken up by others, and slowly we are seeing seeing it come to the fore. Web 2.0 is the buzz nowadays, and though people's thoughts on what that term acutally means differ, everyone seem to agree it signifies a leap in how we use the internet. Online applications are growing in size and number. Online email has been around for years, but now we have online calendars, project managers, whiteboards, spreadsheets, word processers: the list goes on. Our online experience has gone from passive (browsing) to active (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking). Online storage is becoming cheaper, larger and easier to access, and eventually - if the rumours from Google and Microsoft are correct - infinite. So all the files you need are available wherever you are. I'm writing this piece using a web application called Zoho Writer, which means I can start it at work (in a break of course) and finish it at home, without having to send it in an email or transfer it by flash drive. When finished, I could publish it straight to my blog or a number of other locations. (The only drawback with Blogger being that I'd have to host any pictures separately or edit the post in Blogger to include the pics on Blogger's servers.) The ultimate end is being able to sit at any computer and have it look, feel and act just as if you were at home. There's still a long way to go, of course. People will be wary of placing their precious data into strangers hands, and the systems will have to be stable (Firefox crashed as I was finishing this). But then, we've put up with Windows all this time......

Monday, May 29, 2006

Chasing the Cheese

This shows that English eccentricity is alive and well and living in Cheltenham. Welcome to the 2006 cheese rolling championships. The premise is simple: a cheese is rolled down a hill and people chase after it. First down the bottom wins the cheese. The fact that the hill has a 2:1 or even 1:1 gradiant doesn't seem to deter the competitors. There were only 24 injuries this year, including one person who got hit by a cheese. Unsually, there were no broken bones. If you think this is crazy, there are also races uphill, with nothing to chase...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thoughts on blogging

A couple of pieces on blogging, one light-hearted, one vitriolic. The author of the second would go apoplectic if he saw this. It gave me a migraine, so you've been warned....

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Da Vinci World Cup 2006 Mission Impossible Code

I can't really comment on either the book or movie of the Da Vinci Code, having not indulged in either, and don't have any inclination to do so. But it seems everything at the moment has a tie-in with either Dan Brown's licence to print money or the World Cup, (that's the world cup of football - I mean soccer for our North American friends, who don't even seem to realise their country is taking part....) with an honourable mention to MI3. Speaking of Mission Impossible, England begin their World Cup campaign on June 10th against Paraguay. Fans will not need any barbed wire wrapping round their thighs to feel pain or torture. News of Wayne Rooney's metatarsals does that job.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Things You Didn't Know About Your Body

Some interesting facts about the human body. Some you may know, others probably not, but there's plenty of really good tips here. For example: "Starting 48 hours before your next long flight, take a baby aspirin each day. It'll thin your blood just enough to prevent clots from forming in your legs" A good read...

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Who's gonna tell Worf.....?

Carrying knives is a serious issue. IMO, this wasn't the best way to get the message across. This picture was in the Metro yesterday, illustrating a piece on the knife amnesty that the police are currently running. Now I don't know about you, but I haven't seen many Bat'leths in our neck of the woods lately. For non-geeks, it's a weapon used by a race called the Kingons in Star Trek. They're also usually made of wood, as metal replicas cost upwards of $90. The attacks recently that have highlighted the issue of knives on the streets and in the playgrounds will have been made using much more prosaic, but no less lethal, impliments, It's these we need to deal with. Things like this only detract from that....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tenant Time

This week I'm landlord to Culture Kills.... He's a Canuk with an er... let's say, unusual taste in blog background. But get past that and he has some interesting posts. Slide down the sidebar and give him a click. While you're there, check out some of the other links, or have a wander in the archives see what gems are waiting within....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Burning by eggtimer

For those of your who think your DVD rewriter takes an age to burn a copy, take a look at this low-tech, old-skool version. The site's in German, which is fine if you read German, but if not, you can get the drift from the pics....

....then afterwards you can play it on this fully featured turntable, which can be also be plugged into your computer via a USB port. If you've any old vinyl LPs (younger readers may need to look up some of these terms) hidden in a cupboard, can pull on your lint free gloves, pull out that precious slab of black from its sleeve (anti-static of course) and give it a spin (the turntable connects to a regular home stereo). Or record them directly onto the hard drive using the Audacity software provided.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lordi Rules

After an amazing evening, congrats to Lordi and his fellow Finnish creatures for a storming win in the Eurovision Song Contest. They cut a swath through the leggy blonde ladies, scaryily eyebrowed gents and dull French to take the Grande Prix with their Hard Rock Hallelujah, despite (or perhapes because of) the usual voting for the neighbour tactics (which means the UK will never do well). So it's off to Helsinki next year. Terry and Bruce had better wrap up warm...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Linguistic Loopiness

A bit of research I was doing at work caused me to peruse the Guardian Unlimited website. Not being a Guardian reader (I take The Times at home and read someone else's Sun at work.... ok, so you don't exactly read the Sun....) I was pleasantly surprised. I especially like the Comment Is Free.... section. One piece deals with the notion of Britishness (my opinions on which I'll leave for another time). Amongst the comments was this by someone called GwashaBaby:


If you've learned to speak fluent English, you must be a genius! This little treatise on the lovely language we share is only for the brave. Peruse at your leisure, English lovers........................................................

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

AND FINALLY.....................

There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?

One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do:

People recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

The beauty and strength of the English language is that it's constantly evolving, absorbing words from other cultures, changing the meanings of ones it already has and discarding ones it no longer has any use for. Contrast this with the attitude of the French, who are very protective of their language, and are making a concerted effort to preserve it against change. Whether that's the right path, only time will tell....

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My ship's bigger than yours.....

Ever wondered how the Battlestar Galactica stands up against a Galaxy Class Enterprise? Or if a Babylon Five Starfury could match a Tie Fighter for size? If so, then you'll love this site. It has scale drawings of loads of ships from all your favourite movies and shows, from Forbidden Planet to Serenity. It also has "real world" stuff like the Eiffel Tower to help put them into context. If you use IE, you can click and drag 'em around the charts for even better comparision (the site's author is trying to extend it to other browsers, which is good for Firefox users like me...). As the author points out, these charts are for size only. Whether Galactica could take out Enterprise is another matter. If anyone has that site, I wanna know about it.....

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Today I saw my first ant nest. And my first poster inviting me to book my meal for christmas.
In The Times weekly TV listings: Angel 8pm: The vampire fights for his life. (huh?)
When did nuclear power stop being evil death and become a green hero?

Badger pipped at the post

So, well done to Michelle and commiserations to Ruth. I was rooting for The Badger, partly 'cos she's a local girl, also because she seemed the one I could get on best with, especially in the latter stages. But in the end Michelle - like Tim in the last series - kept her head down and quietly came through to the top. Normally I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than watch so-called reality TV, but this show is a must-see (as was, strangely, Project Catwalk). Sadly, we'll have to wait 'till next year to see Sir Alan pointing the finger and barking, "You're fired!"again. But as a consolation, Donald Trump and his hair will soon be with us.... If you can't get enough, or wondering what the hell I'm talking about, head here and you can catch up with or relive all the best bits.... Now to try and get hold of Ruth to try and renegociate my Telewest Package....

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Aeowolf Decoded

Do some decoding of your own here.

Face From The Past....

The second series of Dr Who is full swing here on the Beeb, while the first series is being aired in the US (which makes a change, it's usually us in Blightly who're a series behind, though I've noticed the time gap is closing...). I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen any of David Tennant's Doctor, but I had to mark the return of one of my childhood crushes - Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. As I'm sure Billy Piper does for boys of a certain age now, Sarah Jane made Dr Who unmissable, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who wished he was doing the rescuing. She was by far my favourite Doctor's assistant. The episode last week was excellent, with a lot of emotion, plus Anthony [Buffy's Giles] Head [here showing his Ripper side]. Though I reckon he'd have been more at home in the previous week's episode, "Tooth and Claw"..... For more info and a Tardis full of pics and clips, go to the Beeb's Dr Who site....

Star Wars: The Original Hope

It's taken a year, but at last George has read my post and is bringing out the original, untinkered with versions of the first three Star Wars movies, packaged as an add on with the 2004 "enhanced" versions. Ok, so it wasn't just me, judging by the announcement on the Star Wars site a lot of people felt the way I did:

Fans can look forward to a September filled with classic Star Wars nostalgia, led by the premiere of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy video game and the long-awaited DVD release of the original theatrical incarnations of the classic Star Wars trilogy. In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you'll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983. See the title crawl to Star Wars before it was known as Episode IV; see the pioneering, if dated, motion control model work on the attack on the Death Star; groove to Lapti Nek or the Ewok Celebration song like you did when you were a kid; and yes, see Han Solo shoot first.

This release will only be available for a limited time: from September 12th to December 31st [You can see the ads now... The ideal Christmas present! A present out of this world!]. International release will follow on or about the same day. Each original theatrical version will feature Dolby 2.0 Surround sound, close-captioning, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish for their U.S. release. International sound and subtitling vary by territory.
"Over the years, a truly countless number of fans have told us that they would love to see and own the original version that they remember experiencing in theaters," said Jim Ward, President of LucasArts and Senior Vice President of Lucasfilm Ltd. "We returned to the Lucasfilm Archives to search exhaustively for source material that could be presented on DVD. This is something that we're very excited to be able to give to fans in response to their continuing enthusiasm for Star Wars. Topping it off with a new interactive adventure makes September 12 a red-letter day for Star Wars fans."

That's also the day fans will be able to experience the LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy video game, the action-packed sequel -- filled with tongue-in-cheek humor -- to one of the best selling video games of 2005. To see the trailer to the new game from LucasArts and TT Games, click here!

Click here to order your copy of the game today. To order the first in a series of t-shirts to commemorate the return of the original unaltered trilogy, click here.

It made me smile when I saw the original versions being touted as bonus material, an add on like a commentary or a featurette, with the mucked about versions promoted as the main attraction, as if Mr Lucas is doing it through gritted teeth, still thinking his second attempts are better.....

Friday, May 05, 2006

Apathetic Party wins (again)

Jeremy Vine is spouting statistics on Newsnight at the mo, and the various parties are trying to spin their results to best effect. But the one stat that is barely mentioned is the turnout: 38%. Or, to put it the other way, 62%, didn't bother. This was deemed as normal, which is scandalous. Worse is the fact that, compared to the elections for members of the European parliament, where most of decisions that affect us in the Uk seem to be made, 38% is a good turnout. This apathy makes me angry and frustrated. If I hear anyone moaning about the Council, the Government or the EU, I simply ask, "Did you vote?" If they say no, I tell 'em to shut up. If they couldn't be bothered to put an X on a piece of paper, they have no right to complain at the outcome.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Random Irritations and Joys No 114

Random Irritations of Life: Software that bills itself as freeware but is infact only a demo when you come to install it...... People who bang on that the government should do this or that and pay for everything - don't they realise that the government doesn't have any money of it's own - it's our money they're spending! Managers changing things seemingly just for the sake of it - it if ain't broke don't fix it....
Random Joys of Life: Being able to cheer up someone who's down.... The Apprentice - gripping stuff.... Lost back on Channel 4..... Finding old comics and re-reading them.....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Don't quote me but....

I picked up a great little book the other day from The Works. It's called Wit by Des MacHale, and it's crammed full of quotes the author has collected over the last twenty years (though many of the quotes go further back than that). An example of what's in the book is illustrated opposite. Some more are:

The Sun never sets on the British Empire because God wouldn't trust an Englishman in the Dark.

It's not the people in prison who worry me. It's the ones who aren't.

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

They are not really fixng the streets. They are just moving the holes around so motorists can't memorize them.

They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist.....

The best way to find things is to buy a replacement.

Statistics are like loose women: once you get your hands on them you can do whatever you like with them.

The high standards of Australians are due to the fact that their ancestors were all hand-picked by England's best Judges.

For more, either pick up the book or go here. Or check in the sidebar everyday for a new quote.