Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eurovision 2008 Result

Well, it's over. It will be held in Moscow next year because Russia won last night. It wasn't the best song in the competition and a lot will be said elsewhere about the predictability of the voting so I'm not going to harp on about it here. I judged along with my daughter and I found it quite difficult, the scoring sheet I downloaded had columns for song, performance, dance routine and outfit. The hardest thing for any judge is consistency and the need to identify and correct any bias in your own mind. After a few beers I must admit that my powers to judge accurately were seriously affected, as you can see from my top 5 below. The only way I can defend Spain finishing second is to say that after watching 21 other Eurovision songs prior to hearing it, my mind was mixed up. On reflection this morning, the Russian song isn't as bad as I remember.

In general, although I'm disappointed with the position of the UK entry - countries can't vote for themselves - at the end of the day I'm not that upset with the show. I realise that's naive to an extent but if the show rules were changed then it wouldn't be the spectacle that it is.

  1. Greece
  2. Spain
  3. Norway
  4. Ukraine
  5. Turkey, Azerbaijan


The actual results were:

  1. Russia
  2. Ukraine
  3. Greece
  4. Armenia
  5. Norway


My winner (Greece) (official video, not performance on the night):

Actual winner Russia (official video, not performance on the night):


My second place Spain (official video, not performance on the night):


Actual second place (official video, not performance on the night):

Friday, May 23, 2008

Eurovision tomorrow!

I'm looking forward to the competition tomorrow. I've spoken before about this subject:

So in true time honoured fashion this post is dedicated to Eurovision 2008. I can't wait to buy some comfort food and just veg out on the sofa. A great way to spend a Saturday evening on a Bank Holiday weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Great Wall

The awful events in Burma and China have brought home to me how vulnerable we all are really. My wife and I were discussing The Great Wall of China just before the weekend. Her grandma walked it as a pensioner (apparently), I thought it was too long to walk but didn't know anything about it: except that it is the only man made structure visible from space - I had somehow lodged that fact in my brain. The Wall has always fascinated me, the beauty of it, the brutality of the work (over a million people died in its construction) and the pointlessness of it to an extent. I hope that relief gets to the people who need it and fast.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Maybe Not!

After Friday's triumphant declaration it appears that problems with the PC rose their ugly head again on Saturday. It's been 3 years since I put the system together and its been in constant use, even so, its not ancient. My wife was seriously annoyed by the lack of stability of it and we both decided we couldn't do without a properly working home computer, so we did something that I've never done before. We visited PC World! We firstly wrote down all of the applications we regularly use and some things that we like doing like photo editing and storage, music storage and playback, shopping online, watching video online and so on - the list goes on but its pretty standard family stuff we probably all do. So we took the list with us and spoke to a person. To clarify what I have never done before, I have bought other stuff at PC World, but this time I actually trusted someone else to tell us what to buy. I haven't the time to keep on top of all the processors and issues anymore, so I allowed myself to be guided by someone who hadn't long left school. He seemed intelligent enough and was willing to offer us deals so that we could take away a machine that day - I wanted to capture video from my camcorder and the machine he was recommending didn't have a firewire card, so he offered to install one along with replacing the graphics card with a more beefed-up one. We ended up buying a machine with a dual core quad processor thingymajig, which apparently usually is something you'd expect to find in a 1000 pound plus machine. We had a max limit of half that so we did well and we didn't need a monitor either, so saved a few pounds there. It was ready really quickly and we had it home in less than 2 hours, which was great because we had a good morning in town at the library and weren't rushing around to cram everything in - we strolled around PC World just after lunch. The other amusing thing was that my wife recognised the salesman as the brother of a boy she teaches.

It took me all night to move files and settings and stuff from the old PC to the new, its not as smooth a process as it could be and Windows has some limitations in the way it operates. We have now to get used to a new version of Windows (Vista), which isn't proving to be too hard thankfully.

The funny thing is, I working now on the machine that wasn't working yesterday! So far it is behaving itself today, which is quite annoying on one level and on another level I'm quite grateful because we needed files and stuff and will probably need to keep it going for a few months until we're sure everything is on the new one.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mr Fixit Strikes Again

I'm known in the family as the computer expert. I can qualify this comment by saying that I'm not an expert, I just know a bit more than other members of the family. The latest episode has been related to a speed issue with our family workhorse computer. This computer is where I do my blogging, video capturing, iTunes storing etc. and my wife does her research and watches TV programmes on it and so on. You name it, this is our general main computer in the house for it. So it's switched on most of the time. We're not known for compulsive cleaning in our house, dusting is not something we do generally and neither is ironing. So anyway, we've been experiencing 24 hours of snail pace computing - literally it taking five minutes after clicking on something for the computer to do anything. It was showing less signs of life than a Zombie. We were even at the stage where we were preparing to buy another computer. Reasoning dictated to me a course of action whereupon I disconnected all cables and opened up the computer box. The hot weather we have been experiencing lately has exacerbated the problem. My thinking was based on a pop-up notification from a processor temperature monitor program that said something to the  effect that the processor was getting too hot and the fan speed was raised while reducing the throughput of work that the processor did. All this mumbo jumbo told me was that the brain in our PC was getting overheated. I cleaned out the box not so long ago, as I experienced similar problems when processing 60 minutes of video from our camcorder over a period of about 7 hours! To cut to the nub, I took the PC shell outside and used my wife's hairdryer on cold air setting to blow all the dust from the motherboard and the fans on the power supply and GPU and what I could reach of the CPU fan. Funnily enough that seems to have cured the problem and we can once more use our workhorse. Thank goodness because all of our links, email, documents, music, photos and video are on this machine and getting it all back on to a new computer would have been a nightmare. I know we should backup frequently but who does?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Air Of Summer

Things are looking up for England on the weather front this week. We have had some really lovely hot sunshine for the past three days now and it is set to continue until Friday. Its so nice for the kids to go outside and play in the garden after school, rather than be stuck in the house watching TV. We don't make enough of our garden, never have really. So this year I'd like to get outside a little bit more. On the outdoors theme, I'm not your typical outdoors kind of man. This may sound like a contradiction considering my previous statement but my natural environment is indoors - usually infront of a computer or videogame. Well, we visited a garden centre on Sunday on the way back from Collectormania and in addition to buying some soil for pot plants, some plants and various bits and pieces, I bought myself a new garden strimmer. It's a 2-stroke petrol job that has a starter cord you pull. It has a great tickover rumble to it, a bit like a chainsaw in Doom or something, and it is really loud when you full throttle it. Infact, I didn't quite realise exactly HOW LOUD it was until this morning when I woke up and couldn't hear a damn thing in my right ear. Seriously, I was deafened by silence. I don't know if that's possible but there definitely felt like I had something over my ear all morning. Next time I use the strimmer, I will either have earplugs or ear defenders on.

Last thing for tonight, is a link to a website where you can watch people from all over the world enjoying games on their Wii.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Collectormania 2008

My wife has an autograph collection, she writes off for them occasionally and we some good ones. Today we visited The Centre at Milton Keynes to go and see Collectormania. I've written about this event before and always enjoy visiting it. There is a marketplace (see photos below) and there is a whole section devoted to stars and their fans who queue up dressed in long black leather coats and other such attire, I love it. As a family with young children its quite frustrating when all you really want to do is go and queue and have your photo taken with Linda Blair but you can't because when you have children queueing is the last thing in the world that they understand and want to do. So on one hand it's a little disappointing but on the other, I just love seeing so much STUFF devoted to the TV shows and films I love. Its great to be with so many other people who share a love of horror and SF. It makes me want to go and watch some films now, bye bye film fans!







Sunshine Saturday

My wife had mentioned that it would be nice to get away to the seaside over this Bank Holiday weekend (we get Monday off from work as a public holiday). Traditionally, lots of people do and my fear was of traffic jams in the rush to get away. This may have been pessimistic of me as the traffic is usually most dense on the Friday evening as everyone leaves work a little earlier to then begin their journeys for the weekend. It was still up in the air exactly what we were going to do on Saturday morning but since we're usually up at 6am (or rather the children and my wife are usually up, I have the good sense to stay in bed until at least 6.30) there was still time time to get ready and leave. The coast is just under 2 hours away, so its not so bad if the traffic is light. Well, as you can see from the pictures, the weather was very good. We decided to go to Brighton, it has a pebbly beach and a pier which has a funfair on it. We had a go at the penny shove machines, spent about 10 pounds in two pence pieces - those machines always win in the end but you think you're going to get lucky because all the coins bunch up and look like they're going to drop, if just one more were to push them. BUT they never do! After our supply of coins dried up we moved on. Luckily for us, this weekend is the Brighton Festival and there was a great procession of children and drums and models in the theme of children's games and toys. The toy photos below were shot with my phone and there is a cat from the game Cats Cradle but I must admit I'm not sure which game the dragon could be from, I did manage to guess a few others though like Monopoly and the May Pole.