Thursday, 24 December 2009
Secondly, may I wish you the very best for the festive season and a happy and prosperous 2010.
In case you didn't know the Hogswatch card above is by the fabulously talented Paul Kidby.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
[I have deleted the embedded video as, no matter how hard I tried, I could not get it to load without autoplaying - very annoying! - The video can be found at http://www.channels.com/episodes/show/5117868/CarPool-Paul-Lavelle instead]
Why aren't our politicians discussing this stuff instead of fiddling their expenses?
Sunday, 31 May 2009
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Having been a long time Star Trek fan it was with no little trepidation that I went along to see the new film at my local cinema. I'm afraid I'm one of those fans who thinks that none of the spin offs have been able to match the original and so a re-imagining of that was always going to be risky (remember Planet of the Apes?). But with JJ Abrams at the helm I didn't think it would be a complete disaster - but would it be Star Trek?
I need not have worried. The effects, as you might expect given the budget, were excellent. There was a good deal of action and it's pacing and engagement was such that I didn't notice the two hours or so slipping by. The casting is also first rate. I thought Zachary Quinto had the facial structure for Spock but he also backs it up with a good performance. Chris Pine is Kirk at his womanising, shirt ripping best and Karl Urban provides a decent McCoy if a little too much of an impersonation of the original. Simon Pegg, as Scotty, plays it for maximum comedy effect (possibly a little too much for some I suspect) but Sulu and Chekov are a little more two dimensional. I thought Eric Bana was a decent enough villain but not quite as menacing as the character could have been.
The Enterprise itself kept the original lines and a more movie than TOS bridge layout. I think there have been more elegant redesigns externally in previous movies but that's just a personal opinion. And I really want too sure about the powerboat style throttle control either.
JJ Abrams manages to combine action, some character development and plenty of cross references to the previous incarnations to keep the fans happy - which is no mean feat.
He also manages to reset the timeline so that he is not constrained by the huge body of pseudo history which already existed from the TV and previous movie outings and he does it in a manner that is entirely palatable.
Overall, I thought the movie was excellent and I shall be adding the DVD to my collection when it is released. It remains to be seen if this manages to kick start a new sequence of Star Trek movies and, if so, whether it will manage to replicate the strength of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy relationships which I think was at the core of the success of the original. But for once I am trying to stay optimistic.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Enter Droboshare, it's a little sled that sits under the Drobo and allows you to turn it into network attached storage. Hey presto, I can put my Drobo in another room and access it from any of my other machines over my network.
It was the easiest thing in the world to set up. I simply unplugged my Drobo from my Mac, plugged it into the Droboshare, plugged the latter into the network and the power (there's a neat 'y' power cord which allows you to power the Drobo and Droboshare from the same power brick) and it just worked! My Drobo dashboard on the Mac gives me all the same information I used to get when it was connected directly.
Now I have all the features of the Drobo but over the network and in case I ever run out of space on the single Drobo, I can plug another one into the Droboshare.
It also runs applications too - although I haven't tried any of these yet.
This morning, without any apparent warning, when my daughter tried to log into her account she was informed that it had been suspended and that unless she bought another toy by 9th July her account would be deleted.
Nice way to treat your customers Hasbro! Of course I understand that you can't run the service free for ever but this sort of tactic is pretty low when it's targeted at small children. Shame on you!
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Monday, 23 March 2009
The film starts well but despite its length (160 mins or so) it still feels as though the second half was a little rushed. It sticks to the main storyline from the graphic novel pretty closely but drops some of the side elements; however, some pretty graphic violence has been added in a couple of scenes which, in my opinion, wasn't necessary.
Visually the movie is impressive, Zack Snyder has taken the graphic novel's artistic style and updated it a little but kept pretty close to the imagery. The choice of a less well known actors could have been a mistake but actually works pretty well although Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre II) doesn't quite rise to one of the key scenes.
Overall I came away with mixed feelings. If this has been the first movie of this type I would have been blown away by the visuals but following Sin City and 300 it simply can't make the same impact. In some places I thought that by deviating from the original and playing to the strengths of this new medium more could have been accomplished. As it is this doesn't really add anything to the original. A good movie but not quite great.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
So I looked around for an application which might allow me to provide the occasional support remotely and found LogMeIn. It's Mac and PC and the basic version is free. Of course it does depend on the broadband connections at both ends and it can be a little slow refreshing - especially when dealing with a bigger screen on the other end - but it does work pretty well and you can't quibble at the value for money.
Let me know if you've found a better alternative as I'm always interested.
Friday, 20 March 2009
One to keep an eye on if you care about your data!
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Misco provided the bare drive with their usual prompt service and it dropped in with absolutely no fuss at all; however, the Drobo has been quite noticeably noisier since I popped the extra drive in (not worryingly so but louder nonetheless). I'm hoping it will settle down, as that's sort of what happened with the original drives (although it's never been as quiet as my Freecom externals). Only time will tell.
Friday, 6 March 2009
This type of provision is neither appropriate not necessary and combined with the public sector's appalling record regarding keeping our data secure I think this is very worrying.
Have a look at the Open Rights Group site if you would like to know more or how to try to block these provisions.
Thursday, 5 March 2009
I'm starting to think that either I'm very unlucky or they have a quality control issue...
If you are interested the sites he mentioned can be found at TheyWorkForYou.com, Open Rights Group and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. Edmund Burke
I've been trying out Blogo: The blog editor for your Mac for the full 21 day free trial. So what did I think? Well, it does look and feel like a Mac app, it handles text and images nicely and it integrated reasonably well with blogger and also Twitter. I did have a few problems as it tried uploading one post and failed then, when I tried again, it worked but I was left with a Picasa album with a complete set of duplicate images - so there is a little work to be done. It is a Mac only app, however, and I did find this somewhat restrictive as I also like to post from my linux netbook. Overall it's a pretty nice app but it doesn't offer enough in the way of additional functionality over and above the core stuff in blogger etc. to make me want to part with my cash. But then I'm a bit of a cheapskate so if you're interested why not give it a go - after all the trial is free.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Saturday, 14 February 2009
My first constraint is, perhaps, somewhat unusual. I have the machine on a shelf in a corner unit and, whilst the PSC2110 fitted fine, it isn't terribly roomy. I really didn't want to give up more precious desk space so a new printer needed to fit into the footprint of the old one and I didn't want to split the requirements into two devices (i.e. a separate printer and scanner). Given that advances in technology always used to mean things getting smaller, I was a little surprised at how few all-in-one devices were available which met this requirement.
I also have several machines in the house and, whilst I can do printer sharing from the office machine, I have always had problems with getting this to work on the rather eclectic mix of machines and OS I have. So network capability was on the list.
Of course print quality was pretty important. We don't do an enormous amount of printing but when we do we like it to look good. This is particularly important for photographs. Scanning capability needed to be better than the old machine if possible too.
Finally, of course, there is price. I really didn't want to spend the earth!
I eventually plumped for the Canon Pixma MP620 and spent last night unboxing it, removing all the protective packaging (including a gazillion separate little bits of protective tape) and setting it up.
All the basics seem to work pretty well but I haven't yet had a chance to test out all the features including the networking (I need to find my other network point as I, rather inconveniently, seem to have hidden it behind a rather large bookcase - doh!) but when I have little post a little feedback.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
I thought my UK Driving Licence lasted me until I was 70 (and lets ignore how crazy that is for a moment); however, as was pointed out to me today it doesn't! The license seems to say it does but the (new) plastic card, the one with the picture, actually has an expiry date on it. It, like the plans for the bypass running through Arthur Dent's house, could hardly be considered to be obvious:
And, as you might have expected from our stealth tax experts in the Government, there is a charge when you renew it (and you'll have to keep on doing it every 10 years)...
Sunday, 1 February 2009
After many complaints from my other half, about our compact camera not having the capability to shoot school events properly, we decided to dip a toe into the DSLR market.
I did the usual research on the net and had a look at the bank balance (we're entering different territory here!). The favourite seemed to be the Nikon D40 which was relatively easy to use, not too heavy and not too expensive. Whilst Amazon has them for just under £245, I wanted 'erindoors to actually see and hold one. I have never been comfortable with wandering into shops to see the kit and then buying it on line. It just seems a little cheeky to me. So a bit more research showed that Jessops had them for £249 and they have a local store.
So we duly wandered down to the local Jessops and, after a little wait, managed to catch the attention of one of the staff. Frankly he was about as enthusiastic about selling us the camera as he might have been if I'd asked to audit his last tax return. He offered absolutely no advice whatsoever and simply stood there, while we examined the camera, as if it was all too much like hard work. Despite his lack of interest, my wife decided she liked the camera and so I asked if they had any in stock. "We won't be getting any more into stock and this is the only one we have" he said indicating the display model. "But that's a display model" I said implying I'd like something off. "It's only been out a few days" he replied "and we don't do discounts on display models anyway". He wasn't even the slightest bit phased when I, perhaps unsurprisingly, said that we'd get it somewhere else.
Have I missed something or are we in the middle of a recession with stores closing and people being made redundant? I would have thought that high street retailers would have woken up to fact that people can buy stuff cheaper on the net and the only edge they have is customer service and convenience. Clearly Jessops haven't.
Would you pay full price for a display model? I'm afraid I wouldn't and I don't feel the slightest bit guilty that I popped an order on Amazon as soon as I got home.
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Thursday, 1 January 2009
I discovered David Gemmell's writing many years ago and immediately became hooked. His writing style was a perfect match for me with just the right level of description and fluid storytelling style. His stories, be they fantasy or historical fiction, evoked a more heroic age but populated with real people. These stories may not have been the most complex, although they do have their twist and turns, or the most critically acclaimed but they really struck a chord with me and game full reign to my imagination.
The Fall of Kings nicely completes the Troy story arc and the final scene in the Epilogue had additional poignancy knowing it was David Gemmell's final story. A hero lost to the world and the end of an era.
Fortunately the scope of his work will give me plenty of re-reading for years to come.