Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Some batteries I bought from Sainsbury's had an interesting message on the back...

I wouldn't normally microwave batteries, but now i'm confused.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

My Mac is Self-Aware

A while ago my favourite bit torrent client 'Azureus' rebranded itself as 'Vuze', changing from a simple client to a full blown media 'experience'. Presumably the changes were made to try and make the author some money, which is fair enough. Unfortunately as a result of adding these 'features' the software became a bloated pile of crap. So I thought I'd leave some feedback. Fortunately, the captcha did the work for me.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

That went quick...

2008 seems to have gone really quick and despite my best intentions i've managed to avoid blogging about a lot of the stuff I've done this year. The whole point of the blog was to try and persist some of the more transient memories so that in years to come I can reminisce about the mundane events of 2008. (I blame EJB3 for my odd usage of 'persist' and 'transient' in this sentence).

Unfortunately, if Will Smith was to zap me with his Men In Black style memory be gone TM sonic screwdriver, wiping my memories of the last year, reading this blog would only tell me; my iPod lasted longer than expected, video game covers are misleading, I like flowers, my tomatoes didn't work out very well, my best man's speech was acceptable and that I can't kill a rabbit.

50 year old Dave might read that stuff, but to be honest I think i'd remember a fair bit of it (damn the gaze of that dying bunny, it will haunt my soul forever ... sob). So, one of my many new year's resolutions is to blog more, even if I don't have anything that interesting to say, making this more of a diary then a blog.

So, in the spirit of the above ramble, here's some thoughts on 2008 that unless you're 50 year old Dave will probably want to skip...

Music - I've not bought as many CDs as I'd like this year, with my major obsession being Midlake & Sigur Ros despite that fact that the former haven't released anything this year and the latter released a good but slightly below par album this year (Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust). Notable mention should go to the eponymous Ladyhawke album, which I've really enjoyed, but sure I will stop listening to soon, never to listen to again. It's a fun album, but a bit throw away. I've discovered TV on the Radio as well (late to the party as usual), whos album 'Dear Science...' is great.

Haven't been to many gigs. Early in the year was Radiohead at Manchester LCC with Neil and Corrine, which was good but lacking in intimacy. Support was from Bats for Lashes (never did get into her much) and MGMT (who i thought was boring at the time, but actually now really like the first half of their album Oracular Spectacular). The only other 'proper' gig was Sigur Ros at Alexandra Palace just before christmas which was fantastic. There was alot of slow stuff, but the light show made the ambience electric, culminating a full water fall across the front of the stage, rear projection onto the water fall and glitter cannons. Apparently it's being released on DVD this year, woo!

Seen a bit of comedy, Boosch at NIA (funny, but bloody awful visibility) and Mitch Benn and Luff Town Hall (well worth the £13)

On a semi-related note, I start to learn keyboard/piano earlier this year on a slightly knackered casio I bought from Christine. Unfortunately the sticky keys meant that I had to turn touch-sensitivity off, which meant I couldn't put any expression into the music. In 2009 I'm planning to buy a full length keyboard with the proceeds from

Film - My favourite two films of the year have to be 'There Will be Blood' (actually late 2007) and 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'. It sounds stupid but they're both real films, beautifully shot, amazingly acted and sticking with me long after viewing.

Games - It was the year of making music on plastic instruments. Jen got me Guitar Hero III (wii) at christmas which I was hooked to for months. Then in summer I got rock band (xbox) which I must of spent hours drumming on, convincing myself that I'm a semi proficient drummer, which is bollocks because I can't drum unless I have a tv screen in front of me saying what to hit.

Interweb - It's all about podcasts, highlights being Collings and Herring, Adam & Joe, Mark Kermode, Phil & Phil's perfect 10, Stephen Fry (infrequent but brilliant) and Russell Brand (fun whilst it lasted).

Holidays - Went to Barcelona for the second time in two years with Becky & Matt, followed by a cosy few days in the parent's Caravan in Wales.

Phew, that's enough rambling for now, told you to skip it!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Bring on the wall!

Two years after moving in and we've still not finished work on the house. One part that's annoyed me for ages is the 3 x 6 metre stairs wall. It's a funny shaped wall and because of this trying to hang picture on it would just look a mess, like an Ikea monster had vomited chunks of contemporary art onto the wall.

A few months back I decided that we should have a single image on the wall that fits in with the odd shape. To keep things cheap this invariably meant we'd have to paint something on to it by hand.

I knew from the start that it would either look incredibly cool or like the work of a crayon weilding manboy. So, to reduce risk we took a methodogical approach that involved photoshop, a projector, a macbook, step ladder, wall paint from the shed, ikea pencils, a week of painting & a bit of guess work. The actual pattern is derived from a collection of Photoshop Brushes, available here. You can load these in GIMP using the instructions here. Here's a few pictures:

The scale plan we knocked up in Photoshop

Projecting the plan

This photo is only part of the image, it actually goes further down the stairs with some huge flowers.

My dad once painted an awesome Star Wars wall mural in mine and my brother's bedroom (I'll try and dig out some pictures). He did this all free hand in multicolour, with a little help from the 'how to draw Star Wars' book, which makes our monotone technologically assisted job seem a bit weak. If only there was a 'How to draw Evil Dead II' book. That would be awesome. We'd need a lot of red paint though.

[Updated post on 14/12/08 to point to the actual brushes file I used and explain how to open brush files in GIMP]

Monday, 27 October 2008

3rd Gen iPod, down but not out

My 3rd Gen iPod broke today. I was gutted. The thing had surpassed all expectations, lasting over 4 years with the original battery still going strong. I plugged it into the eMac this morning and it made a horrible whirr flowed by a click, like the hard disk head just gives up.

After trying all the normal soft solutions suggested by Apple, Google came up with this page. It turns out that putting a bit of pressure on the hard disk can get rid of the problem. As suggested in the article I opened the ipod and put a business card inside the case to increase the pressure (I knew those 200 business cards from my old job would come in handy). Unbelievably, this worked. I thought I'd blog this incase anyone else had a similar problem.

Update: This worked for a about a day. I've now given up on the iPod and convinced Jen to buy me a 16GB touch for Christmas. Any one doing the same should take advantage of the iPod trade in programme, saving 10%.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Don't judge a video game by its cover

'Super Smash Brothers Brawl' (Wii) turned up from Lovefilm today, after I spent a good five minutes last weekend saying how much it didn't enjoy any of the previous versions of the game. After playing Smash Brothers for a few minutes I feel like i'm lapsing into premature old age - I don't know who I am, where I am and sudden death is imminent. Jen's excuse was that she wasn't really looking at the names of games she was adding to the rental list, she just went for the ones that had good covers.

Modern video games, with their retina-burning epilepsy-inducing mental graphics can put a pretty reasonable representation of the game on the front cover. This wasn't always the case. Take Jungle Hunt (1982) on the Atari 2600 as an example. Here's the cover:

How good does that look! Look at the detail, the mustache , the baying crocodiles, the cheeky monkey, the elmo watch. This must surely be the most advanced video game experience since that bit in D.A.R.Y.L when the pre-pubescent T2000 managed to get Pole Position running at 200fps. It's 'the arcade hit!' I remember when I first found this game at my aunts, circa 1998. The anticipation of what could only be the greatest game ever was unbearable. I plugged the cartridge into the Atari, switched the TV on and waited what seemed on age for the game to slowly reveal itself while the CRT warmed it self up.


Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sunday, 21 September 2008

A Fear of Unflying

I mentioned in my last post my irrational fear of flying. I've discovered that what I actually have is a fear of unflying. Charlie Brooker put it better then I ever could in his weekly Screen Burn article (paper back here)
I'm not afraid of flying. I'm afraid of unflying. I'm afraid of that rare moment when an aeroplane malfunctions and is instantly transformed into a mode of transport approximately 200 times less secure than a Disprin canoe; a chillingly efficient air-to-ground missile intent on delivering you and your fellow travellers straight to the heart of splatsville, no matter how loud you scream into one anothers' ears.
When ever I'm flying a scene from Fight Club comes to mind. The unnamed protagonist (Edward Norton) is sitting on a plane whilst delivering a monologue on how he wishes every plane he's on crashes. The plane he's on then falls apart before Norton's eyes whilst he has a vacant yet expectant look on his face. Every 5 seconds on a flight I'm playing out this scene before my eyes, watching the passengers being sucked out the Easyjet Boeing like the alien & human hybrid at the end of Alien Resurrection.

Talking of Brooker, there's a new series starting on E4 next month called 'Dead Set'. I'm too lazy to explain what it is, so here's E4's description...
Dead Set. Britain has a big problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. And the people they kill get up and kill. But a few people are oblivious to this - that's because they're the remaining contestants in Big Brother. Cocooned in the safety
of the Big Brother house, they're blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding outside - until eviction night...
You can view the trailer by visiting the official site. In truth, I'm bored of Zombies. I love horror, and I consider Zombies to be the most terrifying whilst equally hilarious monster going. The problem is, the zombie film really is a diluted genre of late, ever since it was embraced by the mainstream in the decent Dawn of the Dead Remake and the classic Shaun of the Dead. Thankfully, this is written and directed by Charlie Brooker , co-creator of Nathan Barley (great) and writer of the weekly Screen Burn column (see above). So here's hoping it will have the hallmarks of a classic Romero movie, violent (Brooker is an angry man) and funny whilst providing some interesting social commentary/satire.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

FAC 73

I've been wanting to buy a copy of the infamous FAC 73 vinyl for sometime. Factory records assigned each of their releases with a 'FAC' code, FAC 73 being 'Blue Monday' by New Order.

For anyone who hasn't heard the infamous story, the sleeve for Blue Monday was so complex that every copy of it sold lost Factory money. And to make matters worse, Blue Monday was estimated to have UK sales of over 1 million.

As with many anecdotes, this version of events that I was sold by some b-grade music mag was a bending of the truth, a liberal use of artistic license. It turns out the loss was only made on the die-cut sleeve, which were discontinued in favour of the cheaper and actually profitable non die-cut sleeve. Nether the less, any profit from the new sleeve was most likely swallowed by FAC 51 AKA the Hacienda.

I love this story because the whole incident was a perfect example of Factory's approach to the music business - Financially a disaster on a astronomical scale, whilst still producing some of the most important music of the 80s, if not the 20th Century.

I picked up a non-die cut italian import of the sleeve in Barcelona this week and it looks brilliant. The sleeve is 12" version of a 5¼" floppy disk. The only text is down the spine, simply stating 'FACTORY 73'. A code using coloured boxes down the right hand side of the sleeve is translated as 'FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER' (thanks Wikipedia). The italian important has an inner yellow sleeve, which makes the cut outs all the more striking.

I'm off to sunny wales now for a few days in the parent's caravan before going back to work.

PS - I particularly liked the way I nonchalantly mentioned that I purchased the record in Barcelona. In truth I hate flying and generally only leave the country once a year. More on that in the next post I guess.

Friday, 22 August 2008

I'm the Best [Man]!

It was my Big Brother's weekend last week and I was fortunate enough to be asked to be his Best Man. When Neil first asked me to be his best man my not-so-well-considered response was 'oh no'. Note: This is one of those few questions where 'oh no' is a really bad response. Others include 'Will you marry me?' and 'I'm pregnant'.

Of course I was happy to be my Brother's Best Man, flattered in fact. My response was purely down to fear of giving the inevitable speech. I'm quite good at doing stuff in front of crowds. I think it's something to do with singing in a band through out school. Nothing can be more scary then singing Radiohead album tracks at bi-annual school ceremonies in front of 100's of parents whilst sporting a ginger afro (Growing my hair long did not work as expected). Regardless, I was still filled with dread, mainly because I didn't have a drummer to blame if it all went tit's up.

To make it even more difficult, I decided not to cop out and use the internet for one liners. I've seen a few best man speeches and the ones cribbed from the internet never sound quite right. The delivery is odd and blatantly not the words of the person giving the speech. So it was down to me, my memory and my sounding board (Jen).

The mainstay of any best man's speech is sentences that start with 'I remember when...', 'When X was Y...', 'X won't want me to mention this, but...' or even 'I remember when X Y'd a Z'. For this, I needed to remember stuff, which is a problem. My long term memory is great, if I have some a cue to trigger the memory. This is pretty much why I've started blogging any slightly interesting thing that happens in my life. My hope is that I can read over this in 10 years and it will be a good enough cue for the memories to come flooding back.

Thankfully I had mum on hand for memory cues, and over two weeks things came together quite nicely. To act as one of the aforementioned cues in 10 years time, here's my speech
It feel's like I've known Neil all my life. [Believe it or not, this is a joke]. Growing up with Neil I was him go through a number of phases. In one such phase Neil starting wearing nail varnish, eyeline and even a dress. OK, he was 8 and it was a fancy dress party but it was a bit worrying that he ran around shouting 'My name is Rowena and a drink Ribena'

When Neil was 16, he found his first love - himself. Honestly, he had more beauty products than the body shop. You wouldn't think it looking him at him now but he used to have a floppy fringe that he'd style for hours everyday. If it was reflective, he'd check himself out in it. I vividly remember one dinner when I looked up to see Neil mesmerized by his reflection in a spoon.

At about the same age Neil found his first life partner - Mr Wilkinson. Neil's been working for Wilkinson's now for 12 years, which coincidentally is the same age as the pick'n'mix in the Kettering branch. If Neil ever goes to a town or city that he hasn't visited before, he turns into a spy for Wilkinson's own brand MI5 checking on the competition - other Wilkinson's. I honestly stood outside the Nottingham Wilkinson's for 15 minutes while he sneaked around mocking their pitiful toilet roll display.

When Neil's not working undercover for Wilkinson's, he's fishing. What I was going to do here was say a bunch of really bad fishing puns...and I couldn't think of anything better, so here we go.

There's no trout that Neil's caught the catch of the day
Cod only knows that Neil's netted salmon special

Now I know Neil's been looking forward to his big day for years. And last December it finally came!

I was a bit worried that Neil would still be hung over from the stag do. OK, it was two weeks ago but I'd never seen him drink so much. 3 Lager shandies and a Baileys! Amazing!

In all honesty, I've spent the last two weeks trying to think of embarrassing things to say about my brother and it's been hard, because he's one of the nicest people I know, and I'm sure him and Corinne will be very happy together.

And here's a picture of me and Jen laughing at something.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Watership Dave

Something (and hopefully not someone) left us a present on our doorstep Wednesday morning. A dead rabbit. And it wasn't any rabbit, it was a baby rabbit. A cute little bunny, with ants crawling all over it's face and exploring it's cute bunny ears. Being the man I let Jen go to work and said I'd deal with it. What a guy.

Problem was, when I went to pick it up it kicked. Then it moved its head up and made some horrible noise. It wasn't a dead rabbit, but rather a dying rabbit. Bugger. I know that the right thing to do was to put it out of it's misery. I have quite vivid memories of my dad lobbing the head off a suffering bird with a spade and thinking nothing of it. Thing is, although sometimes it's feel like it, i'm not my dad. Yeah, I saw bits of wood on a Sunday, wire light fittings and drive a Skoda (don't laugh), but i'm still not my dad. So I did what any liberal wimp would do, re-housed it in a shoe box with food and water and spent half an hour picking off the ants from it's dying body so it would have some dignity in death. It was dead when I got back from work 8 hours later.

Despite leaving the rabbit to die an arduous and painful death, at least it had some dignity. I think that says something profound about the human condition, i'm just not mature enough to know what. After all, I'm not my dad.

Got satnav yesterday and then spent half an hour finding out how to get to work (I knew this already), how to get to mum and dad's house (I knew this already) and where the nearest petrol station was (I knew this already). Money well spent.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dr Who & The Venetian Ball

That title is a bit misleading - I've been to a Venetian ball this weekend and also got frustrated by Dr Who. That said, Dr Who at a Venetian Ball sounds like the sort of weak episode Mr R. T. Davis might come up with. Anyway...

I went to a ball this weekend. I say 'ball', it was more of a disco/piss up in a fancy building. It was weird dressing up in full tuxedo. I'm not someone who really cares about how I look and frankly I hate the idea of drawing any attention to myself and nothing draws attention to yourself more then walking through Northampton Town centre wearing a spangly mask and tuxedo. That said, once you put a tux on you feel pretty cool even if your mask makes you feel like an extra from Eyes Wide Shut. Also, what's the point of a Cumberbund (or Cumberland as Jen mistakenly called it)? Answers on a comment please!

Here's me and Jen (I'm on the left, the masks can make things confusing)

On to the good doctor (not to be confused with the other good doctor). Last week's cliffhanger was genius. The episode itself was typically self referential in an increasingly ludicrous manner (and don't get me started on the sloppy holocaust line) but it redeemed itself with one of the best WTF? endings ever.

The last episode of the season and the resolution of last week's cliffhanger was pretty much a perfect demonstration of the the moments of brilliance marred by poor writing that has blighted most of the last 4 seasons of Who (Ignoring of course anything written by the new bloke in charge, Steven Moffat).

The Good (to quote Dr Dan) - RTD doesn't shy away from big scale. Even though the effects may not be up to it the episode definitely felt epic. It's complete tosh of course, but enjoyable tosh. RTD has always been great on the emotional angle, with a hugely satisfying payoff on the Rose & Doctor story line. The Dr is also as compelling as always due to the snappy dialogue brilliantly delivered by Tennant, who I hope hangs around for at least one more season. Also, Davros (despite his voice and dialogue being a carbon copy of The Emperor, even down to the 'feel the anger' bollocks) looked pretty damn scary and hopefully freaked out alot of kids. Finally, Catherine Tate appears to be as good as killed off, as we're promised she will spontaneously combust if she ever remembers her time with the doctor. yay!

The Bad. I think the resolution to the cliff hanger was the perfect example of what's been wrong with the last three seasons of Who. Any notion of genuine threat is completely undermined by the inevitable nonsensical get out - be it the dues ex solution of season 3 (because as soon as you can undo anything it really doesn't matter what happens), the generic sonic screwdriver solution or, as with the cliff hanger resolution, a quickly spoken scientific explanation by the doctor said so quick no one will try to analyse it and realise why it makes absolutely no sense. This happened alot in last nights episode, my particular favorite was Donna defeating the Darleks by flicking a switch. Seriously? Every time a weak solution is used to get out of a problem it really closes a lot of doors for future episodes and really does ruin any potential suspense.

Anyway, I'm moaning quite a lot and i'm sure no one cares. I have really enjoyed the last 4 seasons of who despite my above moans. Huge credit has to be given to RTD for rebooting new life into Dr Who, giving us two above par Doctors and making sci-fi in a Saturday evening slot work. I'm proper excited about the new series in 2010, led by Steven Moffatt, by far the most consistent Dr Who writer of the last 4 series (see 'Blink').

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Incurring the wrath of God (but which one? read to find out...)

There's been a bit of a split in the Anglican Church recently, as the more hardline christians have started moaning about how the church is becoming too liberal. And by liberal they are referring to increasing compassion for fellow humans regardless of their sex or sexuality. Anyway, these nutters (sorry, hardline christians) are planning to "reassert the authority of the Bible". This reminded me of a quote I spotted on slashfilm from the website for the upcoming Bill Maher film Religulous. It was the following

If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Seems reasonable to me, and this is what the hardliners are fighting for. To provide a quick overview of fundamental christianity, heres some more choice quotes courtesy of Scary Bible Quotes. You can verify them at

If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:9)

Mother fucker! That's a bit harsh

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)

OK so if you want to sleep with someones wife, just make sure they live more than one house away

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found (What happened to innocent till proven guilty?), she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. (Deuteronomy 22:20-1)

Right, so don't sleep with your neighbours wife and if you're a women only have sex anywhere other than Israel

And my favorite...

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death (Exodus, 35:2)

Still, double time is worth the risk