Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog Closed

That's it. Over. Finito.

At least on this blog...

Laff

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Laughs

I've been following Channel4's Make Me A Christian and it's a brilliant blend of self-important reality TV stars and trashy ITV-style Binge Britain contestants. Great stuff.

On yesterday's show:

Attractive Female Virgin: It's painful being cheated on, I've been cheated on.
Shagabout Lad: Is that 'cos you didn't put out?

Classic.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Well would you believe it?

This was bugging me for ages.....

Sometimes ice cubes made from the tap water, or the melted water from ice cubes contains white particles. What are these particles and where do they come from?

Ice cubes freeze from the outside in. Ice is formed from pure water (hydrogen and oxygen) therefore the minerals such as calcium and magnesium normally found in the water sometimes end up as visible particulates in the core of the ice cube. The white particles are not toxic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

OMG

I've found the holy grail. I shit you not. Finally Google have released an app that will synchronise your Outlook with your Google Calendar. I have 3 computers I regularly use, 2 personal and 1 work and oh-joy-of-joys I've managed to install this on my work machine. I've only set up the sync to go from Outlook to Google on this one, but I'm fully aware I'll probably get a kicking if someone finds out.

But it's fantastic to actually be able to see what meetings I've got coming up, without having to VPN in every time. And I can actually make proper use of Google Calendar now as the personal appointments I've put into my Outlook will get synched. I'll be able to check these offline as well as I have Outlook on my personal laptop, which I take on adventures with me. Fantastic.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Film

So I saw Atonement the other day. I think I understand why it didn't win any Oscars; it's shit. I haven't seen such a plodding, pretentious, wooden-acted snore-fest since Last Days. Ok it's got a great, if thoroughly depressing ending, but that doesn't make up for two hours of Keira "Would quite like to" Knightley and James BoringVoy wandering around with sticks up their arses spouting stilted dialogue to each other through a series of set pieces remeniscient of a play, with some pointless arty time-shift shenanigans thrown in.

And come on, how many people planning to study medicine don't know what septicaemia is? At least I've learnt never to read Ian McEwan.

You want to see an accurate portrayal of the upper class in the interwar period? Try Jeeves and Wooster.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Danger

Should I be going out for drinks after work when my horoscope says this:

You are ready for nearly anything today that sounds like fun, but your eagerness can get you into mischief. Your charm and easygoing style can turn an uneventful meeting into a weekend-long party. Although this could be enjoyable, it's not advisable. Go ahead and be yourself, but set sensible limits and don't overstep them.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Camera Redux

Yeah I think I made the right choice. After a weekend partying it's still in one piece, as are the pictures, ready for another weekend of partying. It's got a couple of scratches already but in a perverse way, the sooner something gets scratched, the less precious you are with it. Ultimately it's not what the camera looks like, but what pictures it produces. There's something about Canon compacts and their colour reproduction that I just love - check out this shot (click for full size).


I haven't got anywhere to upload some video I took, but it was pretty impressive. I'll stick a low res version up on Facebook for the hell of it.

So there you go, get a Canon IXUS 860 IS if you fancy a decent, no-fuss camera that produces pretty pictures.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Camera

What a palaver. After deliberating for a long time, reading tons of reviews and actually trying out a few in the shops I have settled on a surprising decision. I'm going to buy an out of date camera. Basically whilst i'm attracted to the Sigma DP1 and Canon G9 they're both too expensive and not perfect enough for what I want. If I'm going to be parting with that kind of cash then I expect everything to be spot on.

Maybe the G10 will be smaller, lighter and have a wider lens. Maybe the DP2 will have a zoom and a faster lens. But they're compromises I'm not willing to make yet. This effectively rules me out of getting a compact camera that shoots RAW (looked at some Ricohs but still not convinced) so with that in mind image quality is key. I KNOW the IXUS range take magnificent pictures. My 800 IS was fantastic in terms of picture quality (at low ISO of course) and reviews support this. I also know how big they are (not ultra-compact but I never had any problems carrying it around in my pocket). The only problem is that Canon haven't produced an IXUS with a wide lens since the middle of last year. All their new ones are 35/36mm - what are they playing at?

So, I considered a Panasonic Lumix, due to the excellent and fast Leica optics. The one I was really toying with was the FX500. A nice looking camera but retailing at £320. £320 for a carry around everywhere, point and shoot camera I'm not worried about dropping? I don't think so. Plus whilst the lens is great, apparently the electronics don't do it justice.

Which brings me thundering along to the conclusion that a) I want another IXUS and b) none of the new ones would suit me. So what I've done is order the Canon IXUS 860 IS. It's a good 9 months old, but has a 28mm lens and a lot of fans. So whilst someone may come up to me and say 'ergh, you've only got 8 megapixels, I've got 12!' I can laugh in their face and stay comfortable in the knowledge that pixels don't a good picture make. Neither, it has to be said, does the camera, which is the line I'll be sticking to if it turns out to be a dud.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jobs

May possibly write about this soon. Doesn't include me though, natch.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reminiscing

Ah, I forgot how great Fry & Laurie were. Anyone want to buy me the boxset?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wii Online Play

Firstly let me say that Mario Kart for the Wii is truly fantastic and immensely enjoyable. However, it seems that the Wii doesn't play nicely with routers demonstrated by frequent 'You have been disconnected from the other players', Error 86420 and Error 91010 messages during online play, which roughly translate as 'Argghhh, Nintendo Wii not see internet. Other Wiis not see you either'.

It looks like a problem with negotiating UPnP but Nintendo's advice is to manually set up port-forwarding (of every port, grrrr) which is fine until someone releases a worm for the Wii and I don't know about you but my little Netgear RP614 won't allow additional mappings to other IP addresses after I create this rule.

It's a bit crap though because would your average Joe know what to do here? Or would they just get really frustrated with dropping out of multiplayer games, blame Nintendo and just give up? A quick Google for 'Error 86420' shows I'm not alone.

It can't be that hard to fix. Or at least tie the ports down to a manageable number instead of all of them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Inspiration?

Today was spent at a company-wide event in Earls Court, designed to give individuals a bit of insight into what the rest of the organisation does. As if it makes any difference to me working in IT - I already know that IT is roundly ignored by every business unit - but whatever, I'm out of the office and there was a seemingly endless supply of delicious, mini-lemon tarts.

The event began with a stunning visual and oratorical performance from our divisional head that would have made any Reichschancellor proud. He's a great speaker, but his image projected onto a 50 foot TV screen above his head was a slightly sinister touch. After that came the opportunity to network with various bits of the company - most of whom have no interest in talking to me because I can't pass any business their way, nor am I particularly interested in them, unless they can tell how much bandwidth I'll need to run Malaysia's email from Switzerland.

Anyway, I did the dutiful corporate citizen bit and had a wander around, observed and engaged, sat patiently through presentations and generally busied myself until the school bell rang. Have I learnt anything interesting about how all the different business units work? Well in a way I have, but perhaps my conclusions have been strongly influenced by becoming more jaded with corporate life in general. And my conclusion? We're not so different. All we're after is making money, and that's the only thing that counts around here. Whether you're talking about offshore structured investment vehicles, syndicated lending, retail banking or leasing cars, it's all about the green.

I don't think this should come as much of a shock to anyone, and I would wager that most big businesses are the same. Making money is number one above all else and I doubt this will ever change. Here I'm going to make a perhaps slightly unsuitable parallel to drug dealing and organised crime - did Tony Montana reduce his drive to make more money when he quite clearly had enough? No of course not, the more he had the more he wanted. As is the way with so much in life. Then he got a flash of social responsibility and was rewarded by being turned into a colander by angry Colombians.

Which takes me neatly onto a couple of interesting bits of the day. I had a good chat with our new 'green' team - tasked with promoting energy efficiency, reducing waste and other environmental initiatives. It's refreshing to hear that they're making progress, but their remit and team is small, so they can only deliver by 'selling' the green agenda to the business. A couple of years ago I made a suggestion via our staff suggestion scheme that perhaps we ought to consider carbon-offsetting our flights. All I got in return was some bumf on how good we are at corporate social responsibility and thanks for your idea but no thanks.

I also got a chance to meet with some representatives from Opportunity International, who are actually my own business unit's charitable partner. I didn't know a great deal before about what they do but essentially they provide banking services in regions and to individuals who otherwise wouldn't have access. So we're talking a £140 loan to set up a school in rural Africa, or just somewhere safe to keep their money. Now this is stuff that we should be doing as a company and I just don't see why we don't. Let's put back some of the billions of pounds we made last year into these kind of projects and we're not even talking about zero returns - these are loans and OI boasts a 98% repayment rate. Now that's an awful lot better than from some of the economies in which we invest.

So there we have it, some good news but I left generally feeling a bit depressed about the company I work for. That's why I've put my name down for skills-sharing in Malawi - just in case they need some IT expertise. It's a long shot, but I'm not going anywhere. Yet.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Compact Camera Considerations

So I went to a friend's wedding last weekend and pretty good it was too. I took my little IXUS 800 and took something in the region of 200 pictures or the build up, the ceremony and the debauched celebrations afterwards before drunkenly leaving it in the hotel bar for some scally to walk off with. Gutted. Don't give a stuff about the camera itself (2 years old, worth about £50 now) but I'm quite sickened that even if someone fancies walking off with the camera they couldn't just take the memory card out and leave it somewhere. Buggers. Also I don't know how they propose charging it without the charger...

Anyways, I'm not going to dwell. What I need to do is get a new camera. Normally I'd just go and get a new Canon, one with a lot more flexibility and manual control, and the candidate for that is the Powershot G9. It's fairly ugly as cameras go, but has 6x zoom (35mm-210mm), 1/1.7" CCD sensor, can shoot in RAW, has all the creative modes common on SLRs and an aperture of F2.8-4.8. It comes with decent reviews, as you would expect of Canon, and the image quality is good, but as Digital Photography Review puts it "a small, noisy sensor is a small noisy sensor no matter what kind of tank you build around it or how many 'professional' features you build into the body."

There is another option, but it comes at a price, both in features and financially, and that's the new Sigma DP1. I've been interested in this camera since I heard Sigma were working on it. They took a few years to perfect it and bring it to market but by all accounts the results in terms of image quality are stunning. It uses a Foveon sensor, one of only 2 cameras (both Sigma) on the market to do so. I'm not going to go into the detail of Foveon versus Bayer sensors here, that's what Wikipedia is for, but Bayer filter sensors have long been known to have limitations compared to the way traditional film works. The Foveon sensor was designed to overcome this and I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they were successful. To my un-artschooled eye I reckon they did an awesome job because the images I've seen from the DP1 are out of this world. Take a look at this one from Carl Rytterfalk (a great photography blog that I'm going to keep up with):


Now what's the chances of getting a picture like this, with the shallow depth of field, nice bokeh, dramatic colours and dynamic range normally associated with a full size SLR using a standard compact Nikon and Canon camera? It's possible with the DP1 because it uses an SLR-sized sensor - 7 times bigger than the G9's. Browsing through DP1-tagged images on Flickr was also truely inspiring.

But here's the problem. Lens is good at 28mm effective focal length, aperture is ok at F4 - the DoF above is possible because of the larger sensor and I don't think would be possible even with the F2.8 of the Canon G9 - but there's no zoom, apparently it's rather slow (but this can be mitigated with a few settings) and at around £600 it's double the price of the G9. I imagine I'd be rather precious of it at this price and probably wouldn't be lending it to friends to run off and take a few snaps with.

However, the image quality is stunning and I would finally own a compact camera usable in low light (see here for some ISO 800 shots). I'm truly stuck as to which to go for. Ideally I'd go for both as it seems I've got two different uses for this - great quality shots from when I don't want to lug around an SLR and candid friends/events/holiday snaps. It's tricky. What do you reckon?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crave

I know it's totally wrong as I have a Vaio TZ at home and this is made for kids, but I'm totally wanting one of these.

What's wrong with me?

I'm even comparing the Eee PC to my Vaio and thinking, "wow, it's lighter, got solid state disks, hmmm. want want want"

Friday, April 11, 2008

It works!


Genius. Although I'd never actually watch this crap on it though....
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Holy Shit

This is fucking awesome. Take that Sony and Microsoft. First Mario Kart, now this. Can life get any better?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New TV

Well the writers strike curtailed my viewing of Heroes season 2 which has now halted with only a dozen episodes so I've been looking for something interesting to have in its place. And I think I've found it with Underbelly, an Aussie crime drama based on the 95-05 Melbourne Gangland killings. Previous to this I've always been fairly unimpressed with Australian TV, but this far and away exceeds the quality of UK and US series. It's both addictive and well played by the actors, who include Drazic from Heartbreak High!?

Soon to be coming to the UK for those without the internet.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Water

Did you know that if you live in a one bedroom flat and can't get a water meter fitted, Thames Water will cut your bill by about a third?

Ker-ching.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Random

Back in the day of modems Usenet was used to piss people off, flame each other and generally commit acts of indecency no one would want to own up to in real life. Today they do it on 4chan and I'm getting strangely addicted to it.

It's basically an anonymous access image board so as NSFW as it could possibly be. You may not have heard of it but you'll certainly have heard of it's influence. Lolcats anyone? Although it's all about the longcats now...

They've also conjured up the caturday meme and instigated a hilarious raid on Habbo Hotel by hundreds of Afro-ed characters in a protest against supposed racism.

Take a look at /b/ if you dare. It's completely indecipherable at the beginning, but you'll get the hang of it.

Currently they're in the middle of a possibly illegal cyber-stalk attack on a couple of girls because according to one of the posts: "yesterday some kid posted a thread on how he wanted to fuck his sister and asked advice on how do get her to want to fuck him. the girl in that OP's image is jenny. we found her youtube account and myspace which led us to amber who is apparently jenny's bff. at first we were just spamming her youtube tell her her brother wants wincest but now we just want moar pictures of amber and jenny."

Of course they then blame it all on a different site to deflect blame. It would be (or perhaps is) really out of order, were it not so funny.

edit: They also got to Tom Green. haha.

Longcat moves swiftly and silently

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Look what I just pre-ordered

Oh yeah.

Online play for the Wii at last.

Myspace leaving scam?

Here's something strange - I just deleted my Myspace account (because I've never used it) and once I did suddenly I got 5 friend requests. Now, my friend list up to that point contained a lonely Tom so this sounds well suspect to me.


Are Myspace trying to convince people to reconsider removing their account?

Why are they spamming me after I've removed all my details, clearly indicating that I don't want to be contacted any more?

Hmm...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Repeat after me

I am a fascinating, unique individual with mental strength and abilities you can only guess at. I am an asset to my work, my social circle and the world at large. I pity you if you cannot see this. I have the power to hold my head high when others are losing theirs. I am confident in what I am capable of and fear neither the future nor the unexpected. I do not need religion or anti-social behaviour posters on public transport to be my moral compass. Everything I do is to make the world a better place. I support the unfortunate and those without a voice. I am not afraid to smile at strangers. I do not need your approval. I AM the shit.

Now keep repeating until you feel able to take on the world on your own terms. Living less than 100% is not really living at all.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spring

Wandering around Ally Pally is good for a hangover (as is a sausage sandwich and cup cake proffered by a loved one) and I took the opportunity to take my lovely 40D along. Amongst the sights we saw were this squirrel which dropped bits of tree on us and this bizarre object, which seemed to serve no purpose other than to perplex passers-by.

I only took the 50mm lens with me so I couldn't do the view justice, but central London was looking magnificent in the sunshine, with the rest of town covered by grey clouds and rain. This is the best I could come up with:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I hate this fucking country

Arghhhhhh!

7 things

I've been ordered to list 7 things I think are good, so I will duly oblige, in no particular order.
  1. Music. Without music my life would be like a silent movie and consequently, like a silent movie, it would be shit.
  2. Drinking tea in the the bath. The height of gentlemanly leisure.
  3. My girlfriend. Ahh. And no, she's not sitting next to me.
  4. Molton Brown, because even gentlemen need good skin.
  5. Train travel, comfortable and green.
  6. 6Music. It's enlightening to listen to the radio and not hear the same songs over and over again.
  7. Haribo. God bless you and all your gummi goodness.
You'll notice I've focused on things that are good for me. I support charity, for example, but I can't say it's ever done anything for me. Starving Africans can put Oxfam on their own list...

Now here are 7 things I just don't understand:
  1. Why fridges have lights but freezers don't.
  2. How much faith people put in 'experts' when what seems to qualify most people as an expert is only that they're the most vocal on a subject. This includes religion.
  3. The popularity of cheese.
  4. The success of Ryanair. Ugly planes, inconvenient destinations, surly staff and not even that cheap any more.
  5. Why rail travel is so expensive in this country.
  6. How to live a fulfilling life full of things I enjoy without sacrificing 5/7ths of it to earning a crust.
  7. Death, the extinguishing of consciousness, the soul and the concept of nothingness to follow.
There you go. Sorry it ended on a bit of a downer. I'm not into the whole tagging thing as I don't have enough internet friends, but feel free to come up with your own.

I'm off to Liverpool now to get spectacularly plastered.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Follow up

A leading psychiatrist says that depression is not a human defect at all, but a defence mechanism that in its mild and moderate forms can force a healthy reassessment of personal circumstances.

Completely agree.

From here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

erb

Was literally laughing at this for ages...

Expensive Placebo

Looks like it.

Though it's worth noting that the studies did show improvement in serious cases. This has been my opinion for a long time now, that for most cases of depression, drugs aren't the answer.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

DNA Database

As if the government hasn't already lost enough of our private information, a certain Det Supt Stuart Cundy thinks that they should implement a national DNA database. By an amazing strike of fortuitousness they've rejected these calls.

The argument given was that it took police 9 months to catch Mark Dixie, the killer of Sally Anne Bowman. Now, I'm sorry but this sounds like a serious buck-passing exercise. Maybe if more police resource was spent on this case, and less on searching bored teenagers, putting up speed cameras and paperwork they might have more to be proud about. You can't just say 'oh, it took us so long to catch him because no one confessed.' but that's essentially what they're saying.

There are a lot of problems with a DNA database, not just around the accuracy or confidentiality of the information contained within, but more fundamentally around the DNA profiling techniques in use today. No matter what you see on CSI they're not 100% accurate and should not be relied on as compelling evidence. DNA profiling is at best circumstantial evidence and it's interpretation very much open to the skills of the particular researcher.

The day we rely purely on DNA evidence to convict someone will be a very sad day indeed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Re: Panorama

If you don't like bottled water, don't drink it.

Don't spend my license fee gobbing on about it for half an hour on a Monday night.

Mohamed Al Fayed is a rambling, bitter, conspiracy theorist

As if ten years of papers filled with grieving for 'The People's Princess' (although what the fuck she ever did for me, I don't know) hasn't been bad enough, just when it's all looking to be over he sticks his massive, expensive tat-selling oar in. Shut your face Harrods-boy! No one gives a shit that you think Dodi was actually the Queen's brother and should have been given the throne if it hadn't been for a plot concocted with the Household Cavalry, three aliens from Neptune and Max Clifford, which resulted in Princess Diana and him being teleported to a 3-bed semi deep in the burning heart of the sun.

It's sad when people die. It's sad when anyone dies. But sometimes you need to move on.

Equitable Power

I know I mentioned this before, but I secretly thought there was some kind of catch to it but I've got my first bill and there isn't. That's why I'm imploring everyone to switch to Ebico ('The UK's only not for profit energy supplier') for gas and electricity - it's ethical and cheaper.

The gas price is 2.55p per kWh and electricity is 9.80p per kWh. Look on your bills to see how this compares to what you get.

Ah, I feel all nice and smug now.

Sunset

Who saw the massively orange sky as the sun set tonight? Quite eerie wasn't it? I thought a nuclear bomb had gone off or something.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quick one

I just found this about Fårö, the island North of Gotland we visited. Had to post it now otherwise I'll forget.

Here are some spooky rocks from there:

State of the Kingdom

Answer me this will you; how come I can cross Sweden and Denmark, covering a total of 700km with 2 trains and a bus when to travel the 130km from Harwich to Muswell Hill I have to take 3 trains, 2 tube trains and 2 buses?

This was the situation I was confronted with upon stepping off the ferry onto English soil earlier today. And then I remembered - this country is shit, of course nothing will work properly.

I enjoy travelling, I really do. The trains, the boats, negotiating public transport with no knowledge of the language. I think it's all fantastic. But any kind of travel in the UK is just a nightmare. But it's not just transport we can't get right. The Scandinavians have social housing indistinguishable from designer apartments, ours look like prison camps and are only good for breeding scummy oiks who secrete a form of saliva so foul that they are unable to swallow it, and are left with little choice but to spit it out onto our grey pavements, like chav llamas.

Everything in Scandinavia runs on time. Everything. It was actually kind of unsettling at first, being used to London time. But it's actually really nice to read a timetable and it not be a work of fiction.

We bitch and moan about things (ahem) but never try to improve things because some other English person would just come along and fuck it all up again. Look at the train companies, a natural monopoly cut up because it wasn't performing effectively under public sector control, given over to a hundred different companies staffed by the same useless fuckwits and the end result is the same level of service, but masses of confusion all round. Can you just imagine getting to Paris and trying to figure out which train company you had to use to get to Lille? Not that you wanted to go to Lille, but anyway. The only thing we're really good at in this country is humour, and that's because if we didn't laugh at ourselves, we'd surely cry.

Now, I know it's reasonable to expect to be a little disheartened upon returning home after a good break, but each time I do I find it harder and harder to justify why I'm here. I'm certainly not looking forward to work tomorrow. On the rail replacement bus from Chelmsford there were some absolute scummers, who'd possibly been out all night clubbing, but managed to pick up some stolen goods on the way and were discussing their court appearance tomorrow. And you just think, why are these people here? Why do they exist? What is it about this country that breeds people like this?

I know you get scum everywhere you go, and later on in the journey a drunk Pole started hassling another wideboy Essex lad, much to my amusement, but we do seem to produce more than our fair share.

Maybe it's that this country is still trying to live off past glories and consistently fails to look forwards, with progressive social policies, to start building a better future for it's inhabitants. But all we can be bothered with doing is building a massive sports complex in East London to distract the rest of the world from how shite we've become. Maybe we did stand on our own all those years ago, defiant against the onslaught of Nazi Germany as the rest of Europe buckled. But that was over 60 years ago! What good have we done recently?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Greetings from the Baltic

Well we've finally made it to Visby which, I have just learnt, is where they filmed the Pippi Longstocking films! Copenhagen was great, but busy. I'll maybe give you all an update later - we've just got free internet in this hotel (fairly basic, holiday camp looking place, virtually empty but very friendly staff and I think we might be the only non-Swedes here). It's overcast, but not that cold. We'll have to see if that's good for photos or not. I'll tell you what, standing by the harbour in Copenhagen for an hour, in the dark, trying to get a decent picture of the new opera house was a chilling experience. I didn't even get any photos I was particularly happy with, but it's all a learning experience.

The sail across the Baltic was calm as a lake and ridiculously punctual - as is everything, down to the minute. We're just about to explore the town now, but we're going to take it easy today by exploring mostly cafés. We're also thinking about hiring a car (cycling really only seems like an option for summertime) and if we do maybe we can go to Faro, the little island to the north where Ingmar Bergman lived until his recent death. Apparently they have some really otherworldly limestone rock formations.

Anyway, here's a couple of Copenhagen photos to keep you happy:

Pretty Houses

The Little Mermaid. Meh.

The Opera House

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Weather

In case you hadn't noticed there's a little bit of wind going around today. This'll make Tim laugh but the result of this is that I will not be on a comfortable ferry with free minibar and inclusive breakfast tomorrow, instead I will be in a large, bright orange-coloured cylinder in the sky.

Oh well. At least we get an extra day in Copenhagen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snip

I've been hassling our network provider today because of problems in our Dubai office. Looks like it's a bigger issue than I realised - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7218008.stm

Apparently it was caused by a ship's anchor. It's funny though, a great deal of effort goes into contingency arrangements for network outages and making sure your network is secure against outside threats, but one thing that most people don't realise is that all networks go through a few of these huge, international cables. There aren't many of them but if one fails an entire region is completely fucked. I remember something similar happening recently to a cable in Asia, which effectively cut off Australia from the rest of the world!

Maybe countries should start investing in a national satellite network infrastructure, as an emergency backup.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rats

This was this scene this evening at the bus stop by Ally Pally station. Yes, that large rodent like object is a large rodent. There were a family of them just hanging about, dashing across the pavement to get to the bin.

Do I hear a 'Ewwwwww!'.

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Toy

So I bought a new camera, a magnificent Canon 40D. I've spent today playing with it, finding my way around the functions and I'm pretty pleased so far. It feels fantastic as well, chunky and metal it oozes quality. Let's see how it stands up to the Danish winter next week...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

RIP EOS 300D

I think my camera has died. Not totally, but more as in it's terminally ill. I've been sorting all my kit out for the epic Scandinavian adventure next week and was just messing around with a few long exposures when I noticed a bunch of hot pixels. It seems to be on everything over 1sec, which clearly is not going to work for me.

Take a look at this, at 100%, I think:



Fuck.

I posted a question on the Canon Flickr forums and they came back affirmative. It's not user fixable, but I could possibly send to Canon for them to do something with the sensor. But that might cost lots.

So I either a) travel with a camera that won't let me take a wide selection of photos b) rent one for the trip and buy a 450D when I get back or c) splash out on a 40D now.

Hmmm. The 40D is ahead at the moment being more of a step up than the 450D and only an extra £100 from Amazon. I really don't need this right now though. I can afford it but it wasn't something I was planning on doing for a good while.

Fuck.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Children of men

It's funny, I watch a film like this and I think there's no way British society can break down so much whilst current facets of civilisation like government, police, etc. are still in existence. Then I go down Archway and see that it already has.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HDR

Oh yeah, I kinda forgot about this. Ok, they're not computer generated. Not technically anyway. They're high dynamic range (HDR) images and the idea is that they provide a more realistic interpretation of a scene as it would be seen by the human eye. The human eye having a much greater dynamic range than a camera.

There's a couple of ways of creating them, either by bracketing exposures (taking under, over and normally exposed pictures) or, the way I've done here, by capturing an image in RAW format and processing them (ie. developing) with the 3 different exposure settings. You then merge the 3 images using specialist software. I think Photoshop probably does this, as does Photomatix.

You can up the saturation and contrast settings during this last phase to create quite dramatic looking pictures (see below). I wouldn't call them photos though. I think you can create some stunning pictures, just take a look at Flickr for some, but I think that's it for me with HDR, at least for now. I'd rather focus on creating great pictures that are interesting without resorting to digital processing techniques.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Qotd

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Damn the Royal Mail

Further to this post I'm now in the middle of a compensation claim for Royal Mail's thievery. I was absolutely fuming this morning when I received a letter from them for a couple of reasons.

Firstly they said because it had been a while now that they 'must' consider compensation. Well I would say that they should consider compensation because they employ a bunch of thieving scallys who stole my post. The least they can do is compensate for the price of this item.

But the absolute cheek of it is that they require me to sign and return a slip of paper they sent with the letter, even though I'd filled in the required claim form already. And, get this, if they don't receive it within 5 days they'll consider my case closed! What a fucking liberty. Of course, this being Royal Mail they posted that letter on the 16th and I only got it today! If they close my case I will be absolutely fucking livid.

Oh yeah, and a couple of days ago I received an interesting item in the post. It was an empty envelope with the Royal Mail's sincerest apologies wrapped around it and a letter explaining "I am sorry that the enclosed mail has been found in this condition after being withheld from delivery by a Royal Mail employee." Can you believe it?! Twice in a month.

Problem is I have no idea what this item was so I can't even make a claim. Hopefully it was just some junk mail or something. All it had was a return postcode, EN5 2UA, which is in Barnet I guess.

Fucking Royal Mail. Absolutely fucking useless shitehawks.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

No bueno Vista

After months of annoyance I finally found this guide on how to correct the excruciatingly annoying auto-customisations that Vista applies to folders. I don't get Vista, I really don't. All I've seen so over XP so far is unwanted UI changes. There's not one thing in it that's an improvement on XP, and most things are worse. I'm just pissed off that it was pre-installed so I'm stuck with it.

And here's how to turn it off entirely! Hurrah. Having to do a registry change to correct display setting is absolutely taking the piss though.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Check up

When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both it's health.
J P Donleavy

I've always thought it rather perverse that we have regular dental checkups, but not health ones. Why would we consider our teeth more important than, say, our hearts? And surely the more effort is spent on preventative health care the better we'd all be in the long run? Anyway, I just got the detailed results of a private medical I had and it's quite reassuring in a lot of aspects. My cholesterol is 4.5 (good). My platelet count is 252 (good). My mean corpuscular hemoglobin count is 33.7 (elevated but not significant). Cool. My 10 year risk of heart disease is 3% - exactly the average for my age group.

There are a couple of things I need to follow up, but hopefully it's nothing to be concerned about. I get paranoid sometimes about my health, with actually no tangible reason to. I think the quote above rings true. Anyway, I heartily recommend it for anyone with any niggling health worries. Be warned though, they're very thorough...

Monday, January 07, 2008