Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Not being especially religious, it seems a little bit odd to wish everyone a happy Easter but it's what people do at this time of year. There will be a lot of chocolate eaten this weekend. Tomorrow morning our clocks go forward for British Summer Time however, the weather feels nothing like Spring never mind summer. Today, for instance, it was snowing earlier. Enjoy the weekend, however you celebrate it and whatever you are celebrating!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dr Who

I watched the first episode of the new season of Dr Who this evening, it included the debut - as a proper companion - of Jenna Louise Coleman. I think she will make a good companion. The episode was classic Dr Who. I've loved Dr Who throughout the time it has been on TV, which for a sci-fi series is a long time. Every year there is something new to look forward to. The Doctor always has a companion or two. They tend to be female on the whole, although there are sometimes exceptions. I don't think there has been a companion that I haven't liked, some of the special episodes have used one-off companions. I tend to prefer it when there is a lone female companion with The Doctor and they get split up and she is in danger but finds her own way out of a problem even when it looks like she has failed. That mix of beauty, vulnerability but also strength of character are what makes a great companion. The new one has those qualities. The photo below was from the Christmas special when the new companion first became known, there was a Daleks episode in the previous series where she had a small part, but it wasn't widely known she would become the next companion at the time.

Total Recall

I watched the Colin Farrell version of this recently and I liked it, I especially liked his wife who turns out to be someone hellbent on killing him for most of the rest of the film. The action sequences are very good, which is sort of a given in todays cinema. I've read some criticism for low emotional content and poor character development. Hmmm, I don't know if I agree. I liked the original and I liked this version but in different ways. I'd have to watch the original again. At the time, I thought the effects in the original were amazing. Today they might seem dated I suppose, it was made over 23 years ago.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Favorite choc bars

I was buying a ready packaged meal in the supermarket after work this week for my wife and my eye caught sight of the offers on the ends of one of the aisles. I noticed that I could buy a pack of four Topic bars for one pound. I was tempted and felt I could do with a sweet treat so I grabbed a pack. Topic was a bar that I remembered from my childhood. I wasn't even sure if they were still made to be honest. I like chocolate and caramel and hazlenut and taking my first bite it was lovely. I was surprised at how nice it was. Now I'm feeling all good that something from my childhood is as good today as it was when I remembered it. I wouldn't want more than one bar a day though, it was quite sweet.

Here is an advert from my childhood years, I remember the slogan "a hazlenut in every bite" but I don't remember the advert itself.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

O2 Joggler revived

My mother inlaw picked up a couple of "clock radios" about a couple of years ago now and was kind enough to pass one on to me. It is a table top device a bit like a digital photo frame but the glass is a conductive touch screen and it has a USB port. It was sold by the mobile phone company O2 but has since stopped supporting them. When I finally got mine connected to the internet, it had a few useful things on it like news, weather, internet radio and lots of games probably many of which I wouldn't play, there was a web browser and BBCiPlayer as well. There were some things on there that were no longer available too, like Sky News. The internet connection was not reliable though but that might have been our old router, which had its own problems. I now think my Joggler was probably running an updated operating system from the one the device would have originally come with. It's been in the drawer in the kitchen for a while now because we didn't really know what to do with it.
My bedside clock is probably older than ten years now, it is battery powered (but they seem to last a long time) but it uses power to project the time on the ceiling. I can't be bothered to unplug it, so during the day that particular feature is redundant. I wondered whether the Joggler could be a replacement with some added feaures.
I have a colleague from work who I know has bought several of these devices and has installed a media server operating system on them to serve music throughout his house. So I decided to have a look on the web for what could be done to update the software. I found these links:

I managed to reflash the memory and perform a clean install of the original operating system from O2. This was a blue interface and the internet connection worked, surprisingly. I was encouraged then to update the operating system to the latest available. I followed some more instructions and after 10 minutes or so the device rebooted and sprang to life with a new look. Here are some photos:

During the reflash

The original O2 "blue" interface after reflashing

New home screen

More toys
Final page of home screen
Now at my new bedside, displaying the screensaver 

So now, I've got this by my bedside so I can set the alarm, check the time, check the weather, check the news etc. any time I want. I could also check Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail or play some games or watch YouTube or a BBC iPlayer programme.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Tara

This post is for my blogging friend Tara, whose blog Eclectic Spaghetti has kept me entertained for several years now. According to my calendar, I believe it's her birthday today. Hope you have a great day! Here is a nice cake photo I found on the web. I hope you tuck into something tasty and sweet today :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Game of Thrones

This seems to be a very popular series in the States. My wife got me the box set of the first series. I've watched the first episode. I am torn between watching other episodes or starting the books. I think the TV is going to win. I have other reading to do. There was more sex involved than I was expecting and it depends whether you like to watch that sort of thing. It's definitely not family viewing. I guess I'm more used to seeing violence in fantasy series (I'm probably thinking of The Lord of the Rings) rather than sex so in some ways it is refreshing. The characters are quite interesting. Nice mix of accents from around the British Isles.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Hunger Games

I can't remember now whether I've mentioned I bought a Kindle e-book reader back in Feb 2012. I downloaded a few sample chapters of several books recently to check out. I think the sample chapter idea is really great for books because I'm never very sure when I start a book by a new author if I'm going to like it. It saves time and money to get to know a writers style before you buy and its so convenient. (Still, I worry with so many digital experiences just how many real experiences like browsing in bookshops will be left in 20 years time.)

No such worries with The Hunger Games though, it is brilliantly written and a complete joy to read. I saw the film with my family a while back and we all thought it was very entertaining. Quite similar in plot to the Japanese film Battle Royale, but less extreme. Jennifer Lawrence is simply stunning, sometimes a person is too beautiful to describe, she's one of those. It was marketed as a book for teenagers originally but actually it's too good to segment to one slice of the audience. Young and old can enjoy.

James Bond

The DVD of Skyfall was published recently and my wife had the decency to pre-order it for me as a Christmas pressie. We watched it altogether as a family recently and loved it. I have to admit to having a soft spot for James Bond films. I've read all of the Flemming books (when I was in my teens). The books are very good I think. I was a child of the Roger Moore era of films and while I liked them as a child, as a teenager and an adult they never really worked for me. No disrespect to Roger Moore, he's a great character and actor and he gave it a great shot and is dearly loved by the fans. But for me, not since Connery has there been a Bond I've liked as much as Daniel Craig. To play Bond, I think the actor has to have a believable cruel streak. Connery and Craig have that. Dalton never seemed right. Brosnan was a pretty Bond, in a similar way to Moore was. I liked Brosnan, his era included some cracking individual scenes - driving through Moscow in a tank for instance. He paved the way for a harder Bond in Craig.

Back to Skyfall. It is probably one of the best Bond's ever. I don't quite know why, it has a very pleasing pace to it. It has a good mix of locations and the location in Scotland is one of the loveliest landscapes the world has to offer.

Monday, March 18, 2013

F1 Season begins again

I'm not a sports man normally. I rarely watch a whole season of sport but I do watch occasional matches or races or games. I like to watch some Formula 1 races a year. My wife doesn't see any point in watching racing, she just argues I only need to see the end of a race. Well, she's right in one way and just doesn't get it in another. I think F1 is more entertaining now than it was a few years, it has gotten more competitive again. The rule changes have made it better to watch and a safer sport I think.

The new season has just begun and here is the event calendar forthe rest of the season, apologies about the formatting.

15 - 17 Mar

22 - 24 Mar

12 - 14 Apr

19 - 21 Apr

10 - 12 May

23 - 26 May

07 - 09 Jun

 2013 FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX (Silverstone)
28 - 30 Jun

05 - 07 Jul

26 - 28 Jul

 2013 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX (Spa-Francorchamps)
23 - 25 Aug

06 - 08 Sep

20 - 22 Sep

04 - 06 Oct

11 - 13 Oct

25 - 27 Oct

01 - 03 Nov

15 - 17 Nov

22 - 24 Nov

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Evil Dead

I have seen a trailer for the remake of the Evil Dead film. I used to have the original Evil Dead films on VHS videotape. I must confess though that I didn't see them at the time they first came out, it was some years later when I was old enough to cope. The violence in those films was so over the top that I came to enjoy them as a parody of the horror genre. Bruce Campbell was fantastic as the main character and they had these nightmare/dream sequences when you didn't know if it was real or his mind turning psycho. I still often think of The Book Of The Dead to this day, years after seeing the films for the first time. It's a great premise for the story.
I much prefer this type of horror film because it plays with the genre in a creative way. I liked The Blair Witch Project for similar reasons. So the trailer for this remake of the original looks pretty good actually, I was surprised. I am slightly critical of remakes to be honest though. It seems like just a cynical way to make more money but on the other hand, think of all the people it helps to employ. So the economy probably benefits from it all. As long as the films are good, I'll keep buying them or going to the cinema. In reality, it will probably be a while before I get a chance to watch this film as it's certainly not one my wife would go to the cinema to see. So it will be a DVD or online experience for me.

Cold House

We moved house in 2011. It was during summer. We didn't know then that the house would get quite so cold in winter. This winter was cold and wet. Spring has started very cold. I'm trapped in one warm room because everywhere else is like the Baltic Sea (in frozen form).

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Harlem Shake phenomenon

It's a curious thing isn't it? The Harlem Shake rollercoaster of an internet trend? I've seen probably only a couple of the videos - only realising afterwards what they were - but I guess almost half of the planet has seen at least one by now. Why? Why has it spread like a virus? What is it about it that makes people want to record and upload their own versions? I find it so fascinating...

Monday, March 04, 2013

Journey to Mars

Interesting story about the search for a couple to take on the challenge of living together for months in a confined space. I would get cabin fever I reckon. I don't think I would cope mentally. I love my wife and being with her but living in such close confinement and not having the chance to get some variety would just do my head in. The routine would be monotous, the food would get monotonous, conversation, everything really would get so monotonous. I'd end up a crazy vegetable. How do you think you would last? Would you prefer to journey to Mars with someone you love or someone new you are attracted to, who you think you would fall in love with you? I'd be more interested in Mars than my wife, so I don't think there would be enough interest to sustain her. However, with someone new it might be interesting to begin with but what if you decided you didn't like each other and yet had to co-habit for  18 months? Wouldn't that be awful?


In the last week I have noticed a gradually evolving sunrise time, it's noticeably lighter in the mornings. I like it when the mornings and the evenings get lighter. Spring is on the way and I'm looking forward to feeling some warmth when I'm outside, I can't remember the last time I left the house in just a T-shirt and shorts. The sun looks so lovely sometimes, I was driving during sunrise on Sunday and the sun looked so wonderful out of my rear car window. Here is a sunrise photo I didn't take myself but you must know the kind of scene I'm talking about.

Sunday, March 03, 2013


I wonder what the world would be like without Facebook and Twitter? I can't decide whether these services are good or bad. I find tweets too short and Facebook too intrusive. I've used Twitter but have not kept up a constant stream like a lot of its users do. I can see how it could be interesting for people who are at live events but it does seem to be phenomenally popular for reasons I don't get. Can anyone explain it?

I feel Facebook is slightly sinister, so I have an irrational personal fear of it. I don't feel I'm really using these services to get the most out of them. I have accounts in the services but for Facebook I use my real name and all of my friends are people I've known through work. I like to separate work from my family and friends and I don't think Facebook makes its controls very easy to understand and control. Especially with the Facebook app compared to the website. I feel like stopping from using them and then starting again but am worried someone will steal my identity.

RZ Oscar Dress

I don't normally notice the fashion press, it passes me by in the usual course of events. However, since the Oscar awards ceremony I did happen to somehow catch sight of the red carpet photo of Renee Zellwegger's dress. I have no expertise in fashion and I don't know what criteria to apply to decide whether the dress is a good one or not. I just saw the photo and thought wow, she looks good. She is very very slim though, almost too slim. I thought she looked great in the Bridget Jones roles, I did enjoy those films even if they were much lighter films than I usually enjoy.