Monday, December 24, 2007

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Ok, so here are my ups and downs of the year. Let's start with the bad and finish with the good, the way I like to eat meals.
  1. Messy break up and domestic situation with the ex. Though it has taught me to trust my instincts more.
  2. Having to go to Dubai for 4 days and hating every minute. I think my mind at the time, my role in being there and the environment really disagreed with each other.
  3. Mice in the kitchen.
  4. The realisation that I haven't really moved forward in my life in any meaningful way this year, even though I started it with grand ideas.
  5. Err...having to sleep in a minging couchette with a couple of fragrant Italians on the way to Greece? No I don't think that counts. It's actually not been a bad year at all.
The good stuff:
  1. Meeting the current girlfriend. I'm deliriously happy. And I've learnt a simple truth about love - that if it's real they want you as you are.
  2. Dog-sledding under the Northern Lights in Norway. A real once in a lifetime memory. Awesome.
  3. I'm going to put my recent promotion in here even though I might get a bit of stick (work isn't everything after all) because a) I like getting more money (company car anyone?) and b) I'm not entirely sure what it means yet and where I fit into the new world at work. So the new year will start on a positive note, with new opportunities. I've already been invited to have a look around one of our offices - just to familiarise myself with the set up.
  4. My break away from life, the universe and everything on a remote Greek island. If you want your head sorting out, I can heartily recommend it.
  5. Realising that I actually like myself. I may be a bit lumpy in places, I don't have eight degrees and I'm as useless with money as I am with knowing when to say 'no' in the pub - but I've decided that I'm allll-right. None of this superflous stuff matters. If you're happy with yourself and have friends and loved ones that agree, then I reckon you've mastered the meaning of life. Everything else is just window-dressing.
It took me a long time to figure that last one out. Ohhh, approximately 28 years or thereabouts. I'm not a subscriber to the theory of depression being chemically induced and it was with professional help that I finally, positively accepted who I am. And I feel fantastic for it. Of course I'm still going to have my ups and downs, everyone does, but life seems so much more filled with joy and opportunity than it did at any other point in my life.

So this year, whilst I haven't moved on tangibly with my situation, I have greatly sorted myself out emotionally. What this means is that I'm in a much better frame of mind to start living a bit more next year, to take some more risks. I now recognise what is important to me and as long as I have that I can't really fail can I? Hopefully next year I'll have a long list - even if they're all downers, at least it'll be because I tried.

Why Internet shopping is about to land flat on it's arse

As I sit in my office on the day before Christmas reflecting on the reality of what a 'delivery estimate' of the 24th Dec actually means I feel a little sad inside. Not because this package was going to 'make' Christmas - it's an inconvenience easily solved - but because internet shopping was supposed to be the opposite of the way it's become. It was supposed to be the convenient way to shop - no crowds, low prices, delivered wherever you wanted. But it hasn't quite worked out that way.

First off, last week I bought a very nice gift that I thought would be perfect for my special someone - only to have it stolen in the post by someone from the Royal Mail. You'd expect Special Delivery to have some meaning to it, but seems the only meaning is that it gets stolen before 9am the next day.

I've had endless problems with courier companies not able to deliver the goods, so to speak. And today I'm waiting for an order that I placed in plenty of time and kicking myself for being a cheapskate and opting for free delivery.

Last year I managed to buy just about everything online, and I had no problems whatsoever. This year I've been far less ambitious and everything's been screwed up. I think the difference this year is that everyone else is trying to do the same.

The thing is, if a shop is too busy you leave and go to a different one. But online retailers have no such problem - from their point of view. If Amazon's website is getting too busy just ramp up the bandwidth or stick in some more servers. What's often forgotten is that behind that web front there are actual people picking up and sorting actual boxes of actual stuff, and we're relying on crap couriers to take this stuff to our doors. They can only go so fast but there is no way of telling from the website how busy they are. Apparently I'm not the only one to notice this degradation in service.

This is what I'm angry about. It could have been so good - no more being ripped off because your local music shop is HMV, no more paying John Lewis prices for electronics, no more being hassled to take out insurance by Dixons. But instead consumers are getting burnt by online shopping and will be more reluctant to try again. I know this is just the Christmas rush but would you be willing to take the same risk for a birthday present? I know I won't.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What's wrong with these pictures?


This last one's a bit of a giveaway...


No prizes on offer except a smug feeling of satisfaction. I will reveal all in a couple of days and my thoughts on this, bet you can't wait!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Busiquette

Sometimes I am astounded by the malaciously inconsiderate nature of Britain's on public transport. You tend to think buses are far more civilised than the tube, and they are, but here are some tips to make my life easier. Feel free to add your own.

1. A bus has two floors for a reason. Go upstairs and sit down instead of loitering by the stairwell so the driver thinks it's full.
2. Sitting in the aisle seat does not mean the empty window seat becomes invisible. I will want to seat there if you don't, so quit bitching when I thrust my arse in your face to get past.
3. Your handbag is not entitled to a seat. Not even if it's the size of a small cow.
4. Mobile phones are for talking on, quietly. They are not a vehicle to demonstrate how atrocious your musical taste is.
5. The back of the W3 is not considered a suitable place to smoke crack. I don't care if it does take you all the way home to Wood Green.

Holiday. Celebrate.

Planning has now started for what's fast becoming a February tradition - freezing my arse off in Scandinavia. This time I'm going here:


Doesn't it look fantastic? They're the city walls surrounding the Hanseatic town of Visby, a UNESCO world heritage site on Gotland - an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. I like islands. This one will be a trifle colder than the last. Historic home of the Goths! Cool.

I laugh in the face of a rough North Sea crossing so will be making this intrepid journey across land again, with a few days in Copenhagen. Ah, holidays. Our only respite from the pointless monotony of work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I just switched to hippy power

It's cheaper too, a lot cheaper. Go here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

NBC can suck my balls

That's right, they're conspiring against me too. Just when I think I've found a TV series that can rival Heroes for my attention I discover that it's already been cancelled. Motherfuckers.

Courier companies can suck my balls

Not only do they lose a lot of stuff, courier companies seem intent on personally antagonising me. Really, how difficult is it to get an item from a to b?

Let's start with Secure Mail Services, as employed by Seetickets to carry out the incredibly difficult task of taking a small envelope of low value tickets from the Seetickets building to my own. Of course they don't bother to attempt delivery until the day before the concert, and then send me a text (?) saying they'd done so. Naturally they'll maintain that they tried to deliver on a number of occasions beforehand, but as they never left a card I have no choice but to assume they're lying. When I spoke to someone at Seetickets she actually said they were constantly having problems with SMS, and I'm not surprised at all as I've had the misfortune to be on the receiving end (puntastic!) of their woeful service many a time. It seems like a lot of banks are using them to deliver new cards - there's nothing more secure than not getting your mail at all!

I find Seetickets equally responsible for ruining my night (when I was supposed to be at Iron & Wine) but it looks like they've just passed my complaint onto SMS to deal with. This is quite clearly bullshit though, as my contract is with Seetickets. If they can't uphold their end of the bargain, i.e. by getting tickets to me, then that's entirely their responsibility. I'll see what happens but I'm not letting this lie dammit.

Next up we have DHL. Well at least they managed to leave me a card when they missed me, I'll give them that. When I called up to arrange re-delivery I wasn't too surprised to find I had to negotiate a labyrinthine IVR system, and dutifully rearranged for the Monday I had off work. What did surprise me, however, was that it would have been as much use shouting the delivery instructions out of my window in the hope that someone from DHL might hear.

After yesterday's no-show I called back and it literally took all my cunning and patience to find the option that allowed you to speak to a human being. And I use that term lightly. This was a shell of a human being, clearly at the end of a long shift apologising to people for DHL's crap systems. Apparently my mistake was to hang up the phone after the automated system had confirmed my delivery date. I should have held on for longer until it started with a 'You hang up, No you hang up, No you, No you!....' routine.

Unfortunately I can't change the delivery address without asking the supplier to write a letter on gold-leafed paper, sealed with wax, enclosing pictures of mine and their testicles painted a lovely amber hue. I've got the address of the place so maybe I'll just have to go up to bloody Enfield and pick it up. It's only a £20 router ffs, is it worth the hassle?

It's funny really, it's only the good ol-fashioned Royal Mail chaps that have got it right. Not intentionally of course - if they did what they were supposed to they'd be in the same boat as the rest of them. But by leaving my parcels outside the flat when I'm not in, and opening my Amazon packages to post the individual items through the letterbox they show genuine ingenuity and initiative. God bless 'em.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Buddhist thought for the day

One for Jamie:

Is repetitive action virtuous action? If behaviour and conduct are merely repetitive processes then all human relationships actually cease. If I behave mechanically every day, - repeating a certain code of conduct which I have learnt, which I find profitable, or which is pleasant, repeating that over and over again, - my relationship with you ceases, completely - I have become a machine. - J. Krishnamurti

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Barnét

It's so easy to fall into the trap of only blogging about the shit that life throws at you. Often it's the only thing the really motivates you to write, happiness has never created great art. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. But life is not just an endless succession of annoyances and impositions put upon you by the actions of others. Sometimes we all need to stop for a moment and reflect on the endless potential and wealth of experiences that life can offer. Even just to think about how amazing being alive actually is.

I woke up this morning with a killer hangover but blissfully happy. I was out after work, and then back to my old stomping ground in Barnet. It's easy to forget how much joy can be had from something as simple as hanging out with friends. I have a love/hate relationship with Barnet. I couldn't wait to get out on my own but it always makes me feel warm and welcome when I return. It grounds me I think, and difficulties elsewhere in my life don't seem so important. I think it's vital to surround yourself with people who have known you a long time. Even more so as we grow older and take on more of life responsibilities. New relationships keep life fresh, old ones keep life real.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I have a dream

I think about the shopkeeper who sets his own rules and answers to no one but himself. I think about the carpenter who turns down a job because he's got some reading to catch up on. I think about the gardener who spends his days in the fresh air listening to the tranquil sounds of nature. I think about the publican who spends all day hogging his own jukebox. I think about the writer, sheltering in the warmth of home with nothing but a cup of tea and a stack of blank paper offering unlimited creative potential. I think about the naturalist exploring unknown lands and about the archaeologist exploring unknown times. I think about the fisherman, calm, peaceful and entirely without pressure. I think about the farmer facing his most important decision of the day - butter or cheese? I think about the actor who gets paid for what he loves doing. I think about the musician who creates a piece of art that will be remembered long after he himself passes into the abyss. I think about the man who makes garden gnomes and the endless possible humorous scenarios he can dream up. I think about the photographer who shows us what the world can look like, if only we were to open our eyes.

I think about all of this and I hate myself, because I have nothing better to do than travel an hour and a quarter every day to sit in a gray office and stare at a fucking computer screen.

HMRC

Would you trust this man with your personal details?


Cor-rect.

Still, this could never happen with ID cards though could it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The first big nail in the coffin?

For the Facebook utopia?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/07/facebook_socialads/

As soon as they start censoring the wall posts the whole concept of 'connecting with things you are passionate about.' will be shown up for the sham that it is.

Facebook official communique here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Organics

As if the last post hasn't annoyed Jamie enough, I've decided to try an organic fruit and veg box company. Abel & Cole only deliver on Wednesdays so I reckon I'll give Riverford Organic a try instead. They're in Muswell Hill on Saturdays so I guess the only choice is weekly of fortnightly. Seeing as I seem to be constantly out at the moment, and the party season is coming, I'll stick with the fortnightly option. I feel bad with the amount of food I throw out as it is. Oh to have a garden and a composter...

Dispatches

This show really pisses me off with it's constant scaremongering. It's gone the way of Pananory. Today's is all about property prices and being a first time buyer. I understand that I'm speaking from a privileged position but seriously, there are more important things in the world than being on the property ladder. It's not even as if first time buyer's will own their home - they'll just end up with a massive loan over their heads.

There's a lady on the show who has £35 a week left to live on after mortgage and bills. Seriously, what the fuck was she thinking buying somewhere knowing full well how much money she'd be left with?

This ridiculous situation is going to continue until we get rid of the fixation in this country with property ownership. I would say the only long term solution is to invest more in social welfare (i.e. pensions) to break the connection of homes as an investment vehicle. In the short term just rent. If enough people are renting, prices will fall. But while people keep going to extremes to get on the ladder, they'll keep going up.

Oh yes, and I don't think it surprises anyone that shared ownership is not the answer. A mortgage and rent? What a fucking brilliant idea.

Anyway, here's an interesting table. Note how all the poorer EU countries have high property ownership, and this level generally falls with economic prosperity and quality of social welfare provisions (read Scandanavia...).

This game is so gonna be mine

But I might wait until Christmas, hint hint.

http://kotaku.com/gaming/clip/resident-evil-umbrella-chronicles-weapons-trailer-318623.php

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Partay

For non-Facebook weirdos...

http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=616290722&k=YYLT2ZT2Q6XMY1BISKYXU

http://www.facebook.com/p.php?i=616290722&k=S4AZ55WXSZTA4DMBXD2X

Will has shared a photo album with you. To view the photo album, follow the link.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Are you smarter than a 10 year old?

From what I've seen from the show, yes. Yes, I am smarter than a 10 year old. Not only that but I would expect everyone over the age of say, ten, to possess similar cranial capacities. What gets me is that we're rewarding these people with their 15 minutes of fame and a few thousand pounds when what we should be doing is removing their ability to vote for being such dipshits. I really like the word 'dipshit', I should use it more often.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Addicted to Facebook scrabble


Kudos go to Ed Vald for 'lesbian'.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kulture

I hate buying theatre tickets, there's just far too much choice in terms of where you're going to sit; stalls, dress circle, upper circle, balcony, obscured views (why the fuck would you want one of them?), boxes and so on. With a gig it's simple - standing or sitting. In my old age I have taken to sitting at some recent gigs, where standing would not really add anything to the experience. Here the rule is as follows - if you want a good seat, get there early. Easy. With theatre tickets you have to look up bloody seating plans to figure out where you might be, and it could look fantastic on paper but in reality you're 3 football field lengths from the stage. You'd think that opting for the most expensive tickets would always yield the best seats, but not in my experience. And don't even get me started on booking fees again - the ones payable for gigs seem charitable by comparison.

Does Opera get government funding? I'm not sure but I don't think they should, not with ticket prices in the hundreds of pounds for a single seat.

And what's with all these shows based on films? I quite want to see Swimming with Sharks but wouldn't it just be easier to rent the movie? Are people just too lazy to come up with new ideas? You're not telling me that there aren't thousands of eager writers out there producing at least a few scripts worthy of performance. Maybe I'll just wait for the book of the play of the film to come out instead.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jetsetting

Last week Dubai (I'm so over this Desert Disneyland by the way), this week Geneva, Ireland at the weekend and Brussels week after next. It's all go at the moment so that's why I'm a little quiet. I just was not that happy being in Dubai last week, it was frustrating work coupled with a soulless atmosphere and Ramadan dullness. Really looking forward to Geneva today though, it may have a reputation for being pretty boring but I have a real fondness for it and my colleagues who work there.

And so, bonne journée!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Britain Blues

This country is pretty shit. Come on, let's admit it. The only reason we're all still here is because we were born here, our friends are here and our shitty education system failed in teaching us different languages. Our British stoicism and sense of humour in the face of constant assaults of bad service, bad behaviour and bad weather are all that keep us from complete social breakdown.

To add insult to injury we get the unpleasant results of quality of life polls that give our neighbours even more of a reason to laugh at us. Yesterday's was from the Economist which placed Ireland as the best country in the world to live in. I've never been there so can't really comment, but Britain was placed as 29th. Does it really deserve the prefix of 'Great' these days?

All but one in the top ten were European countries, though not all from the EU, but this got me thinking. We clearly are unable to run our health service in an efficient, useful or even clean manner. Our schools are now just long exam revision classes. Our police spend all their time doing paperwork whilst gun-toting youths rampage through inner city estates (©Daily Mail). Our transport infrastructure is the worst I've seen in Western Europe. And no one trusts any of our politicians or anyone senior in charge of anything to do with public sector services.

So, with all this hubbub about the EU Constitution taking away autonomy over such things (and yes, I know it doesn't really do that, but maybe could lead to more control from Brussels, yadda yadda yadda) why don't we just let the EU have a go at running our public services? Can they really fuck it up any worse than we have?

Hold the front page

This just in, we've obtained exclusive photos from Jane Buttersworth of Huddersfield that do not show the missing Madeleine McCann. This follows hot on the heels of earlier photos from Clive Jones of Bournemouth who, whilst holidaying in Tenerife, also took a photo without her in it. Reports that a pensioner took a photo that did not show the Loch Ness Monster cannot be substantiated at this time.

Seriously newspapers, get a new(s) story already.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rock and Roll

Well it looks like all the Northern Rock depositors are having their savings underwritten by the government, which is nice, although I wasn't terribly worried about my £170 in an old ISA. Not so much joy for the shareholders though as the stock has plummeted quite impressively over the last few days. But that's what you get for investing in a risky company. Or is it?

I'm going to put my neck out here and say that very soon would be a good time to invest in Northern Rock again. There's nothing like picking up a bargain. Just ask Warren Buffet.

Now I know there are a few differences in the business models but there is also quite striking similarities between the Wells Fargo near-collapse and today's Northern Rock panic. The problem is fundamentally a lack of availability of short-term credit to Northern Rock, which it would normally obtain from other banks but which are now too nervous to lend. Yes, this is indirectly linked to the sub-prime problems in the US, but Northern Rock's lending has not been reckless. Mortgage arrears on their £100bn book are less than half the industry average, and over a third funded by deposits (of which only 8% has been withdrawn by scared Northern pensioners - see, I watch the news sometimes....).

Northern Rock will either be bought out, or wound down. It's asset book is worth about 180p per share according to some sources and this is the worst case scenario. If it's bought the price would likely go up again. So, if I had some money lying around to invest, I reckon I'd be waiting for the share price to hit this figure (probably some time tomorrow) and start buying.

Only time will tell if I'm right. Maybe I just like to invest in the same way I play poker - for the thrill rather than the gain?

Of course all bets are off if B&B, A&L and HBOS continue to plummet. These all share the same wholesale funding model which could see savers running to the traditional big banks and no one trusting anyone any more. Still, good news for us with debts though isn't it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Mighty Boosh

Look, I just don't find it funny ok. Get over it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Curious

When did Saturday morning TV go from over-enthusiastic kids' shows to over-enthusiastic cookery shows?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Geek post

It's my blog and I can post what I want, so ha. This made me laugh extremely hard whilst at work today.

It's not easy to pretend not to laugh and pretend not to work at the same time.

Happy Birthday to me!


This blog is now 2 years old. Who'd have thought my attention span could last that long?
Here's a great old post filled with the joys of Kingsbury Rock Circus.

Enjoy!

O2 2 go

Do you want to get out of your O2 contract? Now's the time.

Although based on a recent straw poll following an unfortunate mobile phone-wetting incident I don't think anyone in the world uses O2.

Facebook privacy

If you haven't played with your Facebook privacy settings to make sure non-friends can't see what you're getting up to, I would say now is a good time to do it.


I got this alert up when I logged in today, telling me that oh joy, soon someone will be able to find me from Google, Yahoo, etc. It's not something I'm keen on so thankfully you can opt out of this as well, which I've already done.

Last thing I want is for a prospective employer to see what I get up to in Cambridge of a night out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The death of summer

Have you ever been stabbed? No neither have I. However, recent events have got me thinking a lot about what it must be like. There's a lot that keeps me awake at night, nothing of which I would feel comfortable divulging on something as public as a blog, but getting stabbed, shot, randomly attacked, etc. are not things that enter my head in the twilight hours. But apparently it does happen, and probably I'm more likely to become a victim of that than most things I worry about.

Let me tell you a little story, if I may. I was recently lucky enough to spend a bit of time in Western Australia, and if you think that travelling to Orpington is like being at the end of the Earth you would have a heart attack just considering the complete isolation that's a way of life in WA. In fact, that quality is what completely endeared the place to me. It was like the Wild West without lawlessness, or people. Fantastic.

We were driving down the (1) highway to Perth (the only real city in the 1m sq miles of land, and a small one at that) when yours truly needed to relieve himself. So off I trot, in my flip flops (or 'thongs' in Aussie parlance) to the side of the road. Bushes above small marsupial height were in scarce supply but seeing as we'd seen a total of zero cars since we left the last roadhouse 10km up the road I wasn't too bothered.

Having done the deed I headed back to the car but managed to step on something that can only be described as 'spiky' on the way back. That's the only way I can describe it because at the time I thought nothing of it. Soft-English-boy-skin-targeting flora and fauna is de rigeur round these parts.

So into the car I got. And then my brain went to work.

I knew about all the terrible creatures that exist in the Australian wilderness that can cut your life unexpectedly short, but I couldn't correlate that with what I'd trodden on. Nevertheless, within a few minutes I felt my heart rate surge, I felt hotter than the 45C outside heat would account for. I felt decidedly faint, colour was draining from my body and my vision. I knew I was about to pass into unconsciousness. I did all I could to stay conscious and the good lady I was with turned the car around and headed back to the last roadhouse.

I was absolutely terrified. My mind was racing at a million miles an hour calculating what I could have potentially trodden on, what their effects might be and how long it would take until my body was totally overwhelmed by whatever poison it was that they'd introduced into my system.

I did nearly pass out in that car. I'm still amazed to this day that I didn't. It was the most scared that I'd been in my entire life.

We got back to the roadhouse where a lovely lady didn't think me an idiot tourist or any of that kinda crap and reassured me, looked at the contact point (I had removed something black and white and 'spiky' from it in the car) and generally made me feel pretty content that the reaper had moved on to easier catches, before we set off down the road again.

For days and weeks later I felt remarkably silly for what I'd been through, but the fact is, it unsettled me for a long time. When we got to the next roadhouse 200km away I was still feeling uneasy, even though I was provided with one of the most delicious chicken sandwiches I'd ever had in my life - and I couldn't eat the whole thing. The only thing that was really helping me through all this was my love of Coca Cola. I can hear you laugh now. But seriously, that is what I had at the first roadhouse and I kept sipping Coke all the way back to Geraldton. So there we go, Coke saved my life.

I never found out what it was that stabbed me in the foot, but frankly it could have been anything. What sticks with me is the inescapable feeling of total fear that life will be over. Now I know that we are all going to die, though I know it's not a popular thing to bring it up, but with all the stabbings and shootings going on right now I can't help thinking that some people just really don't get it.

I was prompted to write this post because of the recent stabbing of a chap in Northamptonshire who was looking out for a friend of his. I don't know all the details and I'm not going to quote a newspaper because I doubt they do either. But one thing he apparently said really stuck with me:

'Everything is going black and white'

That's what it's like before you pass out. But unfortunately he never came around again. Now how does this correlate with my ramblings earlier you might ask? Well, rather tenuously I might say. But I know that everyone is probably already trying to find out how his parents/the media/social services/the government/etc. have failed the perpetrator but there's only one thing I want to know. And this goes for all the other recent (mostly teen) murderers:

Knowing that a highly possibly outcome of their actions is the death of someone, the end of existence of an individual, why do they do it and how can they live with themselves for it?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sign up to Lovefilm

And net me a digital photo frame.

Link.

They are quite good though, in all fairness.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Have you heard?

They're bringing back Wispas...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mound


I went to Richmond Park at the weekend and I must say I'm quite impressed by it. If the deer, the nice views and scones with clotted cream weren't enough to win me over then King Henry VIII's Mound certainly did. It's basically a hill with an unrestricted view to St Pauls some 10 miles away. It's rather impressive and one of only a handful of protected views in the country.

I've been generally quite happy with what Ken's done as Mayor, but turns out he's managed to narrow the restricted area around it. What an arse.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Voter Registration

What's that, the website set up by the Government for voter registration online doesn't work? Surely not.



Oh right. Think I've already had my say on how the words 'Government' and 'IT' should never be put into the same sentence.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Basic Instructions

Ok this guy is an unknown but clearly has talent - Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has taken him under his wing to provide him with guidance on getting published. But literally check this out.

A great post about social networking

Behind the marketing hype what their actual use is for. Although the author seems a little confused about networking vs. social networking. I'm going to write more about this very soon...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

This is what I got

And it's magnificent.

Well it is since I switched it for one without any dead pixels...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Teachers want return to dark ages

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/02/teacher_votes/

Bombshell

Headline in the Mirror today - "Political Bombshell". Front page news on how Brown is going to 'fix' the election by doing some stuff the public want, and then having the election. How is that a bombshell? How is that news even?

I got quite drunk yesterday and woke up with 5 Turkish lira in my pocket.

That's a bombshell.

And I saw a baby pigeon in Finsbury Park this morning.

That's a colossal bombshell.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New toy

Ok, so yesterday I picked up a brand new Sony Vaio TZ for an extortionate amount of money and I'm writing this on it now. I was, and still am, pretty thrilled by it - it's tiny for a laptop with an 11" screen, but has 2GB or RAM and a 100GB hard drive, built-in webcam, and the screen is very very impressive. I predominantly wanted it for digital photo editing and stuff on the move - something I could take on travels with me and my camera.

There is one issue though, which I'd never experienced in my run of work-bought Thinkpads - stuck pixels. About half a dozen of them, visible as green against a black background. I'm not really sure what to do. I'm thinking I might leave it a few days and if they haven't improved I'll take it back and see if they can exchange it (only problem is I know this was the last one in the shop....).

It's just such a shame it isn't 100% perfect, because basically everything else about this machine is.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tickets, gah!

Why do 2 tickets with face value of £12.50 cost £34.75 at Stargreen, £32.45 at Ticketmaster, £32.30 at Seetickets and £30.37 at Ticketweb? Why the disparity and what exactly do I get for paying a 'service charge' or a 'transaction fee'? Isn't five pounds for postage sufficient to cover the costs of someone taking my tickets out of the bundle they have, putting them into an envelope and going to a postbox?

You don't pay service charges for anything else bought over the internet, so why for tickets?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ethical Geekery

Lookie what I just bought to take on my travels!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Glasgow = Soft Target? or The Insidious Enemy Within

Can you laugh about terrorism? I think so. That's why when I read about the 'attack' on Glasgow airport following the Friday 'attacks' I couldn't help but burst out laughing from a line in this article 'It was only when a member of the public punched him in the face that the police managed to restrain him.'

The moral of the story is, if you're going to blow up something in Glasgow, do it properly, or they'll 'ave ya.

Anyways, it's really only a matter of time before the culprits are officially identified but I don't think it takes a genius to work it out. I know you shouldn't judge people by their background and lump them all in together as a bunch of anti-social, murderous misanthropes but clearly there's something that runs deeply through the veins of a certain section of British society today. Their community leaders urge calm, but I can remain calm no more.

They were responsible for the July 7th bombings and most of the alleged incidents since. They have assimilated into everyday British life, particularly in London, outwardly appearing to be 'just like us' but inside they're different. With their disturbing views about women, drinking and treasonous calls for independence. Only their strange food and their accents give them away.

Who am I talking about? That's right. Northerners.

Be careful out there kids.
I just heard about a friend's engagement on Facebook. A little piece of me just died inside.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will's Odyssey

Everyone else seems to be buggering off on holiday so I thought I'd do the same. After a little bit of research I've settled on the small Greek island of Ithaca, supposed home of Odysseus. Apparently there's not much to do there except lie on the beach and eat seafood, so sounds ok to me.

Having enjoyed the journeying around Norway by land so much I've decided to get there by train and ferry, through Italy. Haven't quite decided if I'll stop off much on the way, guess it depends how much I book in advance. I'm hoping that since there's no airport on the island that it won't be quite as covered in tourists as your typical Greek island, although going in the middle of July probably doesn't help.

Here's a picture of the author of the Odyssey:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lisbon

can't be bothered to write about it yet, though I will soon.

meanwhile I've posted some pics on MyFace.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Breaking down the shackles

I got a nice letter this morning letting me know that I have now paid off my student loan. Admittedly I didn't run up as huge a debt as most having parted company with my university after 2 years, but I have been paying it off for what seems like forever.

I paid off my credit cards earlier in the year (thank you fat bonus) and it's a nice feeling knowing that I'm making some progress in escaping the spend-debt-work cycle.

All I need now is to do something about the mortgage. I suppose it's probably a bit strange to be wanting to get off the property ladder, but it's just not a priority for me anymore. I'd rather have the cash money.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dates

Wikipedia is a dangerous thing to a bored man. Now tell me, how many of you have wikied your birthday to see it's significance in history? I have. And I'm not best pleased.

Although on May 25th 1521 it saw the end to the diet of worms, it was pretty much downhill from there.

In 1865 - In Mobile, Alabama, 300 are killed when an ordnance depot explodes.
We lose Ireland in 1914 - The United Kingdom's passes Home Rule Act for devolution in Ireland. But they can have it for all I care. I'm really more concerned about the following:

1979 - American Airlines Flight 191: In Chicago, a DC-10 crashes during takeoff at O'Hare International Airport killing 271 on board and two people on the ground. This was the day I was born remember.
2002 - China Airlines Flight 611: A Boeing 747-200 breaks apart in mid-air and plunges into the Taiwan Strait killing 225 people.

So that's over 500 people dead, on my birthday, from flying. Now I don't particularly like flying that much, even though I partake in it quite frequently, but mostly that's not of my choosing. That's why I would advocate getting trains wherever possible - and it's also good for the environment (smugness) and much more enjoyable (just ask someone whose flown to Paris vs someone who got the Eurostar). And I know people will spit back statistics about numbers of deaths on road or rail travel but frankly that doesn't phase me. I'm happy to go when my time is up. I just don't want to know about it in advance, even by a few minutes.

So I've found my own method of dealing with flying - a couple of strong drinks beforehand - not to get paralytic or anything silly, just to forget the risk and enjoy the scenery, and it can be spectacular. I used to feel guilty about this, that somehow I was too weak for taking this easy way out, but fact is, everyone has their own ways of dealing with what they perceive as a danger or threat.

I guess I had it put into perspective by my previous managing director (really missing him these days!...) with something he said in his farewell speech. He was recalling memorable moments in the last few years as MD for International Banking, possessing as it does the frequent need to travel to far flung corners of the world. This was a strong man in all the senses of the word, in his late 50s, so he'd been doing this a while and indeed regaled the tale of how he narrowly cheated death on a helicopter in Nice (the very next flight everyone on board died) but one of his memories was of:

"Always landing in any destination I've gone to with a hangover."

So it's not just me.

You know those statistics people throw out - something like 14 million to 1 of dying in a plane crash? Yeah. They're wrong. Have a look at this put together by the US National Safety Council based on figures from 2003 (no 9/11 involvement see). It gives odds of dying from 'something' throughout your life - depressingly the ultimate result is 1/1 of dying from something. Bugger.

Chances of dieing from air & space (?) transport accidents = a little less than 1 in 5000. Although to give it some perspective, death from falling is 1 in 218. I don't know if that includes death from falling 35,000 ft....

Ray

Just finished watching it on ITV (amazingly the first time I've watched ITV in years - are they gonna start showing good films now? 'ITV becomes the new Channel 5 shocker'). But how good is Jamie Foxx in it? Innit? So good he has to have two X's after his real name, Jamie Fo. He should at least get an Oscar or sumit.

What is it with well known, but as yet not film-messiah level actors taking on biopic roles and proving their worth? I'm thinking of 'Walk the Line' here obviously. Any more for any more?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jobs

So cheesed off am I at the moment at my current job I'm going to speculatively apply for some others. I say speculative as in a) I don't know where I want to be in 6/9 months and b) chances are, if they don't pay me at least in the region of what I get today I won't bother because of a).

I saw some pretty interesting (if slightly vague) positions up for grabs at the DWP. I'm having difficulty deciding which one to go for but I'm thinking that since it's only speculative, better to apply for something I think might be slightly out of my reach, as opposed to something too similar to what I do now. I wonder if I can apply for 2 jobs with them? Maybe I'll ask when I get an application form. But anyway, current thinking is that I'll go for the Business & Strategy Architect or the Strategy Planner.

I don't have enough experience to be a Security Architect, and to be honest, it bores me too much.

PETER
I, uh, I don't like my job. I don't
think I'm gonna go anymore.

JOANNA
You're just not gonna go?

PETER
Yeah.

JOANNA
Won't you get fired?

PETER
I don't know. But I really don't like it so I'm not gonna go.

JOANNA
So you're gonna quit?

PETER
No, no, not really. I'm just gonna stop going.
From Office Space.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sage-like views from the Gamesmaster

here

Thing is, there are already plenty of channels focused at particular genders - Sci-fi Channel for the boys, UKTV Style for the girls, MTV for the boys, VH-1 for the girls. You get the picture.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Going south

Looks like I'll be able to fill in another gap on my map. Orange's customer conference is in Lisbon this year (last year was Prague). Exciting it won't be, but I might spend the weekend there and do a bit of exploring.

Now I just need to figure out how to tick off the tiny countries of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and San Marino...

Annoyance

Maybe I'm just bitter because I have no qualifications but I'm getting increasingly fed up when people put theirs into their email signature. I deal with a lot of technical people and I'd rather just assume you probably have some idea of what you're talking about, otherwise you wouldn't be in your job. I can generally sense pretty quickly if you are full of shit, but telling me which exams you've sat isn't going to sway me one way or the other.

You've got an MCSE? Big fucking deal. Now I know I can't talk to you about anything non-Microsoft.

CISSP? You've been doing the same job for too long (prereq is 4 years in the field) so I'm going to assume your mind has turned to jelly and you're not really on the ball.

BSC? Seriously, someone had this in the email signature today. Why would anyone care what you did at uni? You could have done sociology for all I know. Shall I put my a-level results on mine?

CCNA/CCNP/CCIE? Actually these are the don of network certification and my hats off to all who've got these. There's always exceptions to a rule. I know a CCIE and he blows anyone else out of the water when discussing networking. I still haven't got my CCNA because I've been very lazy arranging a resit, plus networking is now only about 15% of my job, so the drive's not there so much.

Anyway, maybe I'm also a bit peeved that there's no qualification I can do that mirrors my job. I'd need to do a CCNA, CCDA, MCSE, CISSP, CISM and probably some others, but who's got the time for all that? I think delegation's the way forward anyway...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Alps

Looking towards Italy.

Tents of climbers ascending Mont Blanc.

Mont Blanc itself.

A nice day for a stroll.

Or jumping off a mountain with a large sail strapped to your back.

More Geneva



I got nicely covered in Lake Geneva when I wandered along this pier.

The UN building at night. I meant to get there during the day but missing the turning and ended up walking half-way to Lausanne.


The view towards Chamonix from Aiguille Du Midi at 12602ft.

Geneva

Here's a few photos...

Cathédrale St-Pierre


View from the hotel window - it was rather near the airport.



This is why I'm here...

Moved

This is the view from the roof of our new office, not bad huh?


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Who works harder, men or women?

Great story.

"The time spent not working is identical for men and women. How this time is used differs for men and women and it turns out that women for instance spend much more time sleeping than men do and that extra time that women spend sleeping, men usually spend watching TV, so that may explain the perception that women have less free time."

Ha. That's what you get for your 10.30pm bedtime.

Anna Thorburn from Global Women's Strike, a body campaigning for greater recognition of the work women do, says it doesn't recognise how women work. For instance it ignores what she calls 'emotional housework'. "It's the organising and planning and maintaining of relationships that women do. When men stop working they switch off. Women are constantly on the go, juggling things to keep things going."

Yeah whatever. Fact is men take precisely 2 minutes to organise anything, whereas women take 3 days of 'should we go here or here' and 'but if so-and-so is coming then whatsisname can't' deliberating before they do something. That's why they don't switch off and waste precious brain space that could otherwise be used for knitting patterns and celebrity gossip.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

OMG

I just downloaded Sonic on my Wii. Sonic on my Nintendo. Not a phrase anyone would have anticipated 15 years ago.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Countries I've been to

Ok, I cheated a bit by including countries where I had a stopover, but there was only a few of them so it's reasonably accurate. I think this map is trying to tell me I need to get out of Europe more, specifically in an easterly direction.


create your own visited country map

Can someone lend me a hand?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I've never seen them live so I'm kinda tempted

I'll go if someone else comes with me.

I don't want it to be like the Eagles where I had to stand around with old people all on my own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wikipedia - The Great Argument solver

Liquorice extract is traded both in solid and syrup form. Its active principle is glycyrrhizin, a sweetener more than 50 times as sweet as sucrose which also has pharmaceutical effects.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licorice

Ha! Take that Jamie.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hohum

Do this on a train or plane when the person next to you is being annoying:
  1. Quietly and calmly open up your laptop case
  2. Remove your laptop
  3. Boot it up
  4. Make sure your fellow traveller can see the screen
  5. Then click here

Friday, March 30, 2007

Random

Don't you just love it when you're listening to your mp3 player on random and you come across a track that you have no idea from whence it came? This morning it was Speedy Gonzalez by Pat Boone, featuring the voice of Mel Blanc. I don't even know who Pat Boone is?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

True Fact

The quality of a film is inversely proportional to how many Eddie Murphys are in it.

For example, Beverly Hills Cop or Shrek - Eddie Murphy count: 1, brilliant films.
Nutty Professor - Eddie Murphy count 8, complete turd.

The only exception to this is Coming to America, which is genius, and contains at least half a dozen Eddie Murphys.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Budgets, like, whatever

Lots of people moaning on the news that the increased (again) Olympic budget will be raiding the National Lottery kitty. But hang on, didn't 'the public' recently get up in arms about unspent Lottery money? Might as well spend it on something....

Boring grown up post

Shocked as I was to realise that I've been living in my flat for 2 years now, even more shocked was I when Abbey let me know what my new monthly mortgage repayments would be as my interest rate changed to their standard variable rate. We're talking an extra over £200 a month. So, about 3 weeks ago I applied to remortgage with ING Direct and I've got to say, it was an absolute piece of piss. Hence why I'm plugging them here. You fill in a couple of forms and that's it. They do everything for you and don't even charge you any fees. Nice.

I know the rate's going to have to go up soon though as it's remained the same throughout the last couple of rate rises, but I chose it because I didn't want to be tied into anything and I want the flexibility to overpay now and again. Whether I'll actually ever do that is a moo point.

Tout

I'm feeling well ill today, so I'm stuck at home watching Ray Mears Extreme Survival on Discovery. However, a bout of man-flu won't be keeping me from seeing Arcade Fire tonight in Brixton. Anyway, I've got 1 ticket going spare, available for the princely sum of twenty five of your English pounds. Let me know if anyone wants it otherwise I'll just have to hand it over to some tout scum.

Haha, tickettout.com in administration. Serves 'em right.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Apparently there was a lunar eclipse tonight

I'm thinking it started out like this:

and ended out looking a little like this:

Monday, February 19, 2007

Some Norway

I'm going to put some photos into a web album or something, but can't be bothered right now so I'll just stick a few up. Maybe I'll flesh out what we got up to at the weekend, when I've actually unpacked.
The Hurtigrute ferry we took from Bodø.



The Norwegian Navy.

Viking swastika..?

It was really cold in Hell. In fact, Hell froze over. Ahahaha. Ha.

Bodø bicycle.



Some Northern Lights in Tromsø.


View from the plane to Alta.

Ice Hotel chapel. Those crazy Norwegians.

More crazy Norwegians.

Ooh.

Ahh.
etc.


This is a good example of the scenery you get to see from the Hurtigrute. Big mountains with tiny little houses at the bottom.