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October 24, 2005

Hurricane Alpha

Hurricanes in the Caribbean are named, as we all must know by now, and they get alternate male and female ones, with initial letter starting at A and moving through the alphabet. So we end up with things like Hurricane Ivan, Katrina and Wilma. And now they've run out and moved onto Alpha, Beta etc.

So am I the only one getting really bored of seeing them on the news. OK, if a major city is submerged in water for weeks, that really is news. But this current one called Wilma is just blowing a few trees around isn't it?

Does it really rate top news story on the BBC?

I know of course that it's a major deal for the people there - but it does happen a lot, and it happens every year, so maybe we should just have a little footnote to keep us reminded that a Virgin Atlantic flight to Orlando, in October, may be really good value for a reason.

This is a precursor rant to another I'm ruminating on. Who decides what is news? And are we really getting the news we want?

Posted by se71 at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2005

Norwich Union

The BBC News Magazine sometimes has interesting items.


Take this image for example from a current Norwich Union billboard advert. I've studied it quite a bit over the last few weeks and wondered how it was done.

So it's actually an old person, and a young relative at the opposite ends, and some computer morphing trickery for the middle two images.

Interesting, and something I expected I'd never find out.

Posted by se71 at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2005

Mushroom Photo

Originally uploaded by se71.
I took this photo of a big mushroom at the weekend, and have put it as my desktop picture - I like it a lot and think more people should have the opportunity to see it (all 3 of my regular readers :)

Also, blogging photos suddenly seems like a cool idea, so I'm going to do a bit more of it.

Posted by se71 at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005

Nike RunLondon 2005 Picture

Nike RunLondon 2005 Picture
Originally uploaded by se71.
I don't usually blog my sport related stuff on here, that's all on another site, as it's really very tedious usually.

However, this is quite interesting.

I competed on Sunday against a crowd of ~30,000 people, including Paula Radcliff, in the Nike 10K RunLondon race. The track in Hyde Park loops around a bit, and I actually saw Paula running towards me at that point (she would have been ~2Km ahead of me at that point)

The official result, which tallies with my own timing, was 45m 07s, which is nearly four minutes faster than last year, and which I'm really pleased with. I know I can go faster too, so I'm aiming to beat it again next year.

Placing 1850 in a race may not sound like much, but that means more than 28,000 people were slower than me, and that sounds much better :-)

Update: A 5K run on 25/11/05, time 22:04.

Update: Another 5K run on 29/01/06, time 21:45.

Posted by se71 at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2005


What on earth is going on with work recently.

I've just been offered a 3rd really good job in central London at a really good rate. I'm already working on a contract for at least the next six months, so it's really frustrating not to be able to take up these opportunities.

Are jobs like buses then?

Posted by se71 at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2005



What a little beauty, almost all good, with just a bit bad, and overall an essential purchase.

So you have a mobile phone and a PDA. Between them you probably already have a built in radio and MP3 player, appointments calendar, contacts and to-do lists, simple games and maybe even movie playback. You can view your digital photos and, browse the web and all sorts of fancy stuff. So why do you need yet another device that you can carry around in your pocket and forget to charge? The answer is simple, this has the best quality small screen you've ever seen!

The PSP with version 2.0 of the operating system allows you to do the following 5 things

1. Play games
2. Watch movies
3. Look at photos
4. Play MP3 file
5. Browse the interweb

With the understandable exception of the MP3 player, uses the little crystal clear screen to great effect

The games are fantastic - I have "Everyone's Golf" and "Burnout Legends" and hours of my life have disappeared inside these worlds. They come on disks similar but smaller than minidiscs, which have something like a 1.7Gb capacity. I'm not going to quote graphics throughput or polygon counts at you, but from a players perspective, it compares in speed and quality to a PS2/XBox. The games are massive and the controls feel good even for long periods. A fantastic feature you don't get on mains powered consoles is the suspend/resume. I was half way through a race, and my battery ran out. I put the PSP back on charge, started it up, and resumed the race from the precise spot.

The movie player is great, I registered on the Sony website and they sent me Spiderman2. It is totally watchable, but I think the £20 price tag for movies will mean not many people go for it. With a decent capacity Memory Stick Duo Pro though, and the right software, you can encode your own media. I haven't really studied the DRM issues for this, as the way I'm doing it is dumping programs and films onto the PSP from ones I've recorded off the TV using my DVD-Recorder. Admittedly, this is a slightly slow method, and I don't use it much yet. What I really need is some way to get last night's episode of 'Lost' or 'CSI' onto memory stick with a few mouse clicks, then I really think I'll feel the real benefit. I'd like to timeshift my TV viewing onto the train, so that I could spend time at home doing other things - some programs aren't appropriate for my children to watch, and as it's impossible to get them to go to bed anymore, I end up missing them now.

The photo viewer is simplicity itself, just stick in the USB cable and drag and drop the jpg files into the correct folder on the Memory Stick. I've subjected several relatives to slideshows of my holiday snaps already.

The MP3 player is OK, but hardly inspiring. I'd like them to do a lot more on this for future Firmware upgrades. For example, why can't I listen to MP3s whilst web browsing? Why is the MP3 artwork not shown full screen. Why can't I have playlists, and why can't folders be more than two levels deep. But, it plays music, which is nice if you'd rather read your book/paper on the train than smash up sportscars in Burnout or watch Spiderman2 for the Nth time.

The Internet browser is impressive and much better looking than you'd think. Connection to my home (and office, and Burger King) wireles network just works. Entering addresses on the software keyboard is painful, so I use my del.icio.us bookmark page as a homepage and that leads me to everywhere I generally like to go - like BBC News, Bloglines, Slashdot. Tabbed browsing is supported, and cookies get stored to reduce logging on pain. It's very nice, I'd love to do instant messaging on it, but this and other applications would be impossible without with an external keyboard/mouse (I think they are in development).

The MP3 player is OK, but hardly inspiring. I'd like them to do a lot more on this for future Firmware upgrades. For example, why can't I listen to MP3s whilst web browsing? Why is the MP£ artwork not shown full screen. Why can't I have playlists, and why can't folders be more than two levels deep. But, it plays music, which is nice if you'd rather read your book/paper on the train than smash up sportscars in Burnout or watch Spiderman2 for the Nth time.

I waited a long time before buying a handheld gaming device, having been tempted by Nintendo and N-Gage, but never quite being convinced I'd actually use them. I know I made the right choice with the PSP, which does so much more, and has upgrade possibilities that mean many uses we haven't even thought of yet will happen. And with it's wireless multiplayer gaming possibilities, I'm even tempted to get another one!

Posted by se71 at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2005

Faerie Tale - Raymond E Feist

A book I've had on my shelf for absolutely years, and which I finally dusted down and gave up the daily paper and crossword to attempt a quick read. Nearly 500 pages in just over a week isn't bad, but it really was fairly light stuff.

At the heart, it's really very simple, but as with many books the truth is revealed backwards to keep you reading. The forwards abridged narrative might go like this:

There is a secret society called the Magi who pretty much control the world - not only ours, but also a Fairie world too which has many of the attributes that Irish folklore tells of. The Fairies are kept in check by a pot of gold, and it's hidden under a tree in a farm in New York state. Phil and his family (wife Gloria, attractive 18 year old daughter Gabby, and twin 8 year old sons Patrick and Sean) move to the farm. The fairies start bothering them, indecently assault Gabby, and when the gold is found and removed from the farm (breaking the compact that keeps them under control), kidnap Patrick and take him to their Fairie land under the Elf King Hill. Patrick gets help from a local Irish drunkard, goes and rescues his brother, killing the Fairie King (but not the good Fairie Queen). The Magi bring the gold back, the Fairies disappear to another hill, and they all live happily ever after.

This is more of a horror story than a fantasy - the sick things that are described, and described in far too much detail, shouldn't be on the same shelf as Anne McCaffrey and Tolkien. I particularly didn't like the eight year old changling boy who tried to rape a nurse whilst smearing her with his excrement!. If this was a James Herbert or Stephen King book then perhaps I'd have been ready for that, but I have a feeling that this aspect, and the bad language, will have turned off his main readers.

There is a whole family history for Phil and his extended family that adds very little to the narrative, but lots to the page count. The characters don't behave in a realistic fashion - a son who had a nightmare and screamed for several hours then went into a short coma state, is left alone in his bedroom the very next night. a father who believes a rapist is stalking his daughter, lets her wander about alone in the barn and local woods days after she was attacked.

The slow build up where creepy things begin to happen and gradually get worse provides some spine-tingling moments, but a good editor could easily lop about 1/3 of the book away and retain that but give the reader a much better experience. This is definitely a book for teenagers who want their fiction light and a bit spicy.

I've got 'Magician' on my list of books to read too, which I hope is proper fantasy.

Posted by se71 at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2005

Charity Begins At Nike

What is it with sporting events and charity?

I've entered the Nike RunLondon 10K race. This is a big event with 30,000 people and should be a lot of fun. It cost me something like £35, and I paid about £65 on a new pair of trainers too (Nike ones). It's a personal goal of mine to get a better time than last year.

So, then what do Nike do - they start spamming my inbox with requests to help London's disadvantaged young people by giving them my hard earned cash.

I've paid for this event, Nike get loads of cash and advertising and sell tons of extra sports gear, and yet they still think they need to impress me that they are a caring company by sending me begging letters for some random charity. I'm not convinced, I know this kind of thing is just a cynical way for them to get some kudos back after all the Asian sweatshop bad publicity trainer manufacturers got in the past.

I'm emailing them back to complain, and to tell them to stop asking me for money, otherwise Asics and Adidas or some other equally deserving corporation will get my business next time.

And don't even get me started on the London Marathon and charity.

Bah - humbug.

Posted by se71 at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)