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Friday, 21 November 2008

Roger and Me

I am glad Obama is reading FDR. He needs help dealing with a troubled economy.

I don't know how I feel about the government and General Motors. Yes it's an important company to America, but what about things like flint Michigan and the job closures? Check out one of Michael Moore's films Roger and Me and then tell me for sure GM should get saved no questions asked.

For the workers sakes yes it should be saved. However GM should be brought to task for past sins.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Iphone

Guess what! I don't want an iphone. Why? because I can't use the onscreen keyboard. If you have an iphone, try typing with a sausage. My fingers are not small enough to enjoy an iphone. I can't type on it.

I need a keypad on a phone. At 56 I can text like a madman on my N95. On my friends iphone, I get gibberish cause it can't adapt to my hands and fingers.

My friend is a Mac fanatic. I am a gamer so the pc will always be a superior platform for me. Though I do love macs, especially the mac laptops. I told him if he did not get an iphone I would be dissappointed in him. He got one and he loves it. He even texts me, which he never did before. So the iphone is right for him, the skinny fingered git.

I do love Nokia phones. I've already blogged about some of the features that I like, but they are awesome. Maybe the google android will be cool if it ever gets off t-mobile.

So, do I feel left behind because I won't get an iphone? No! Do I feel bad that they did not design it for my hands and fingers? No! The other reasons I won't buy an iphone is mms. I love sending pictures and videos to friends. If I want to send a picture to my friend with an iphone i can't cause I know he can't send one back and I don't even know if he can recieve them. How could a phone made in the 21st century not do mms? Apple is usually ahead of the curve, but they missed this with the iphone. And what about video? So far you won't see any video clips on youtube done by an iphone owner. Oh for the iphone users mms is multimedia messaging, you know images and videos you can take, send and recieve on your phone. Oops not your phone, my phone.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Election

It's 7:19 here in the UK. I hope when I wake up tomorrow Obama is President. I just wish Martin, Jack and Bobby were here to see it.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I love the smell of bookstores



I walked into the Books Etc the other day and what was I met with? Empty shelves. I know we are in the age of Amazon, but can't society support bookstores any more? Yea I buy off the net, but for me you can't replace the kinaesthetic experience of browsing books. I think it's the smell of books, being able to take books off the shelf, have a quick read, and know you bought just the book you wanted. And having enjoyed the whole experience.




When I lived in L.A. I was within a 10 mile radius there were at least 4 major bookstores plus 3 or more used bookstores. I used to spend my Saturdays browsing used and new books, heaven.

At the Uni I work at there is NO book store. Can you believe that, a campus of 15,000+ students and no book store. Blasphemy if you ask me. They used to have a tiny Waterstones, It had the books for the courses which was good, but beyond that the selection of fiction took up less shelf space than I have in my living room. And the library does not carry enough books for the courses I teach.

Now apparently Waterstones, a big book store in the UK has bought Books etc. Andy they will eventually put a Waterstones where the Books Etc was. But why can't a city like Uxbridge, a city with a University, support 2 bookstores? I would have another place to hang out on the weekend and it would keep my out of trouble (trouble for me is buying pc games).

Don't get the wrong idea about me. I am not a book worm or brainiac. I teach because of my experience in games, 3D and video. I am dyslexic and really did not get into enjoying reading until later (ask any dyslexic about not being able to see the forest for the trees, as far as reading goes). But I do love reading. It takes me a week to read book my wife reads in a day. But I still love reading and I really enjoy bookstores. I like fiction, like Anne Rice, JK Rowling, Patricia Cornwell, Chris Ryan, Andy Mcnab, Tom Clancy etc etc. And of course cool books about tech.

Yes everything is available online, and I don't have a problem buying off Amazon. I have had to buy my last 4 books off of Amazon. I have done so for a long time.. And I could go into central London(1 hour trip, but then I'd be in London). But nothing can replace the smell of a bookstore and the enjoyable experience therein.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

ping fm

Pingfm as I have been going on about is a cool central transmitting point for your blog, facebook and myspace and twitter updates.

Monday, 1 September 2008

My N95

I feel that mobile imaging could be coming to age.  It started with my Nokia N93 cause it had a decent camera. I took a number of ok images.  It had a 3.2megapixel camera and a decent lens.  It did not perform well in low light or challenging focusing condition, but given good condition you could get a very nice image out of the N93.

Now I have a Nokia N95.  It's the older model, not the 8gig model. I have found it to be a reliable phone and the camera now with 5 megapixels works very well.  The best thing I did for the phone was upgrade to the latest firmware.  That really made the phone super stable. But on to the camera.  They have improved not only the size of image that it take but it's less fidegty about non ideal situaltions.  It still suffers in low light but not as bad as the N93.

One of the best part of the mobile imaging package is gps and the ability to geotag your photos.  With geotagged photos, when you upload them to flickr or picasa, you can locate them on a map.

I had a student whose final year project was about geotagging mobile imagerey, I blame him, I am hooked. Have a look at a google map I created and you'll see why I enjoy this so much. 

My N95 Images, geotagged on my google map

So can a mobile phone replace a camera?  Yes it can replace most point and shoot digital cameras. No it could not replace a good digital slr.  I really enjoy photography.  I have had some great cameras in the past.  The biggest problem with proper  slr's or digital slr's is you don't always have your camera with you, but you always  have your phone with you. 

Have a look at the above link.  As you can see  the N95 does a darn good job with the images.  I keep running into cloudy days (welcome to England), but overall you can get a decent image.  Would I liked to have used a Nikon D80? yes probably, but would I have liked to lug it around with the grandkids all around, no.

The n95 has in built gps and i downloaded an application called location tagger.  It does what it says, adds location data to the images in the exif data.  Flickr is dead easy to use. Upload your photos and look on the map, Everything is nicely placed on the map in the correct gps position, go nokia n95!!!!  Picasa also works once you work out how to upload the photos and keep the location data.

The cool thing about picasa is once you organize your photos, go to view map. While your in map view there is a "view in google earth" option.  This exports a kml file.  Then if you want to make a google map, , import the kml file and voila you have your photos correctly geotagged and placed in google maps. 

Mobile imaging will never replace a good digital slr (will I regret saying that?) There are some things you just can't capture even with a good camera phone.  But under the right conditions, you can take interesting, even very good photographs with your camera phone. And if your a nut case like me, enjoy the geotagging side of it
Now that i have spent a few hours using Ping.fm I have to say that it is very very cool. It allows you, from a dashboard interface, to update any number of social networking/blogging sites. I am writing this blog from ping.fm, and it will automatically post to my blog. I can twitter from it, update myspace and facebook. There are more networks you can post to such as AOL, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and I am sure there are more planned.

I was desperate to get a beta account and a big thanks go out to those that provided it. I feel a bit more connected now.

Whats the future of Ping.fm? widgets, mobile applications etc, I am sure if they are not there they will be.

2 net apps have really tickled me, twitter and ping.fm. I really like twitter. It's short and sweet, but keeps you in touch. I just have a hard time checking facebook and myspace, but now with Ping.fm I can at least send updates and appear to active on other social networks.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

What do you know. Sitting around and feeling sorry for myself actually worked. I managed to get a beta key for ping.fm. I am happy beyond belief. I now feel like I am on the inside track. Now if only battlefield heroes comes online my life would almost be complete.

ping.fm

What is this ping.fm and why can't i have a beta code for it. Apparently it allows you to update all your social network sites. I have heard people talk about it, but I can't use it yet, cause all the googled beta codes have become obsolete.

This disappoints me terribly. I was also looking forward to playing battlefield heroes. Stated as being released Summer 2008. Well the summer is almost gone and there is no battlefield heroes, only beta keys which I am really fed up with cause I don't have one.

Why can't I be on the inside track of something like ping.fm or battlefield heroes. I spend so much money on EA games that I am starting to take this personally. I buy sims 2 and all the add-ons for my wife. Command and Conquer and battlefield 2 for me. I want to get the new Battlefield bad company but I might wait, just cause I can't play battlefield heroes.

The only non EA game I have is Microsoft Flight Simulator. If EA come out with an awesome flight sim then I'll probably buy it.

I will have to find some way of getting on the inside track. But until then I suppose I will sit here feeling sorry for myself not being worthy of a beta code of any kind.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Wheel of fate

I was hoping that Obama would twitter who his running mate was before I went to bed.  But I have to go off to bed without knowing who his running mate is.  As an American living abroad it's interesting to see the interest in Obama.  I think the UK is collectively holding it's breath until Obama chooses a running mate that gets him in the White House, then we can exhale, until the election.  We'll be blue in the face waiting for the results, and if Obama does not get in we may not take another breath.  Fox news is going to interview Obamas half brother in Nairobi, why not interview McCains ex wife. 

What hope does Obama offer?  Hope.  Hope for the future of America. Hope for peace in the middle east.  Hope for a fairer treatment of people at home in the states.  I don't know if Obama can fill the whole bill of everything that people hope for, but at least he will try.  Will the wheel of fate allow him to have a go at being potus.  I hope so.

As my Wife says, hope is a very undervalued commodity in a time of recession, credit crunch and war.  Hope gets us through the rough times.  If we can but hope, we'll make it.
 
Obama is intelligent, well spoken and not perfect.  Thank heavens for that we don't want a perfect person as a President.   My wife and I think he is more to the left than most people think.  Since I have moved to the UK, I have seen and heard great left leaning people like Tony Benn.  So people in America, don't be afraid of the left.   I think that McCarthy still haunts the subconscious of Americans, shouting communist! to anything left of centre. You can be so left as to be socialist, and still be very far from being a communist.  Calm that voice of McCarthy inside your heads.

As you can tell I like Obama and I hope he becomes President.  I'm tired of the good ole boys getting rich off of oil.  They have had their run.  Now let's get back to a president who inspires us.  And for heavens sake Hillary and Bill please give your full support for his Presidency.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Hello?

I talked to my step son the other day and he told me he was being made redundant. All the call centre work for the company going to to another country. I know this is a national trend, and I don't begrudge the hard working people who will get the work. I know we live in a global economy.

How much work will go offshore? And when does it become a problem? GM downsized it's car production and left Flint Michigan in shambles. You should watch Michael Moore's film Roger and Me. Many big companies took their manufacturing offshore, and now the service jobs are leaving.


Yes it's probably good for some companies to go offshore, like my step sons company. The problem arises when we reach a point where the people who used to buy those products or services are out of jobs because of off shore labour. And these people can no longer buy these products or services. What happens to company profits then? We need jobs to buy their stuff.

The service sector was going to be the new economic stronghold with so much less manufacturing. What now?

As Harley Shaiken said from News Hour with Jim Leher ""Let me quote a participant in a recent U.N. study about globalization. The participant said, "It doesn't do much good for a father to be able to buy a pair of shoes more cheaply if that father loses his job." And I think that's an underlying principle that's very important here. "

So what do we do? What will the new area of the economy be that provides a job and a future for my step son?

I am an immigrant, I went offshore for heavens sake. But not for a job. I hope my step son finds a new job, I am sure he will. Anyone out there want to hire him?

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Photography outlawed?

Students have been banned from taking photographs or video of anything on the Brunel campus without prior permission. Now they have to get permission via email. So, if they set up a day in advance to take photos, and the weather is bad or something then they have to start over. Some people have had 8 page emails in a response to a request to take photos.

This is driving me mad and I am not going to take it any more (ala broadcast news). Is it right to stop students taking photographs on their own campus? We should have a protest. Lets have a big photography sit in day? Yea!

There is another problem with students taking photographs in London. Some students have been stopped and questioned by the police. One Student was taken to the station and released.

I understand the security concerns. And in a way I am glad the police are on the ball. But what about society in general, is photography inherently dangerous? What about all the camera phones out there. They could be discretely taking pictures all the time. And with wifi and 3g, gps and geo tagging, they can be uploaded to the web in a few minutes, and located on google maps.

What to do? Unless the photographer or videographer is going about in a dangerous way or causing danger to others, let them be. What about the sneaky bastard on his Nokia camera phone taking pictures and uploading them to the web without anybody noticing?

What would Ansel Adams say? Brunel and society in general have to lighten up. Let us take pictures in peace. Let our photos go.

Friday, 18 July 2008

My Head is in the clouds

Back in high school when computing was a mysterious world of the super geeks, and I was a wanna be super geek, we had access to computers, sort of. What we had was a series of terminals, in which you could execute a program or command, that was sent to a main frame computer somewhere. These terminals, just a display and a keyboard and a connection to a main frame.

There is some talk of going back to this type of computing, again sort of. Applications such as word processors could live on the net, and we would never have to install anything on our own hard drive.

So you would no longer need to purchase Microsoft Office just for a word processor. You could use something like www.acrobat.com, a word processor that is live on the web, no download necessary.

The new buzzword is cloud computing. This is what got me thinking about dumb terminals and net applications. The cloud is your email, calendar, docs etc that don't live on your computer but live on the web. So you have been using cloud computing by using hotmail , gmail and yahoo mail.

I am not writing this blog in Microsoft word. I am writing this on acrobat.com's Buzzword. Wow, an application named after what cloud computing is trying to become. A buzzword.

I think that the idea that you only need a basic computer with web access is a good thought, but for someone like me who is an avid pc gamer, it would not work. I will use the cloud, well google mail and google calendar etc. Lets hope the cloud does not turn dark and start raining on us. Heaven help us if there is lighting in the cloud.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The happening

This blog contains spoilers for The Happening

I am a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan. Signs, Sixth Sense, The Village, Lady in the Water and Unbreakable were all fabulous films. Intricate plots, great characters, surprise endings, everything worked in his movies.

Signs was incredible, the main plot about alien invasion worked, the sub plots of lost faith found was moving. Joaquin Phoenix was awesome, "Felt wrong not to swing" was amazing to find out why he felt that way and how it worked out.

Sixth Sense was brilliant, I did not know Bruce Willis was dead until the very end. And it's worth watching the film again and again to watch what is really happening, great film.

My favourite movie of Night's is The Village. The tensions throughout the film supplied by the mysterious creatures in the woods, Adrian Brody's great performance and again a superb character created by Joaquin Phoenix. The star in that of course is Bryce Dallas Howard, her quest to get medical supplies was amazing and provided a great surprise ending.

I recently watched The Happening. What happened? The trailers made it look amazing. However actually watching the film was not. I think this was Shyamalan's attempt at a global warming message film. It did not contain an intricate lace of plot and sub plots or any surpise ending. Maybe some of his films did not do as well because they were too intelligent for the general public. Maybe he made this film in a way as answer to his critics, I personally loved his movies, and I feel he may have dumbed this one down. I read some reviews of the film, and most of them missed the point. They focused on the suicide aspect of the film, not the revenge of nature, which I believe is what night was getting at. The suicide scenes were definitely unnerving and left me feeling a bit depressed. They were dramatic, etc but after awhile, they just sort of wore me down. And a bit like my complaints about Spielberg's War of the Worlds, how did the main character survive all the way through and end up in a lovely little city with his family. It was as if Grandpa and Grandma did not know anything was going on and just wondered why Tom was late for dinner.

I can deal with hopeless films. I can watch apocolyptic, vampire, zombie, etc films where there is no hope at the end of the film. I think the most dramatic suicide scene is at the construction yard, bodies just flying off the building. Was this Nights tribute to 9-11? I think the reviewers were wrong and right about the film. It was not about people contemplating suicide, it was about nature getting pissed off and doing something to the people so they would commit suicide, trees 1- people 0. Also the movie lacked pacing and tension, when Night is so good at that. It just sort of droned on with scenes of grass and trees blown by the wind and Marky Mark running with his family. Ok at the end, the same things happen in France. After the film I was sort of glad i live in the city, and don't like going to parks. Just because the trees emitted something to take away the suicide inhibition, why didn't some people fight it?

Note to Night, please please just forget about people who don't get your great films. Go on a holiday, find some inspiration, climb Everest, go on a vision quest or something but get back or go forward to making great films again.


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

ok so I have not quite smoking yet

Who among us has suffered at the hands of addiction? Well maybe I shouldn't phrase it quite like that but bloody hell it is so hard to quit smoking this time. Lets get this straight, well maybe not , will power, I used to have it. In the past I could put a 20 a day habit behind me and suffer silently for years. I quit for 5, 2 and 15 years at a time (subconscious mind jibes in "a quitter never wins"). Dammit I am not a quitter, but I really really want to quit smoking soon, not just now. Hmm I think i need a cigarette.

I have cut down though. Aren't you proud of me. Is Aren't a word?

What else is going on? I have been checking my social networking sites more than once a month. I am going to try and keep up and check in 2 or 3 times a week, for as long as I can. I get fed up sometimes. Yea I like all the people who are on my sites but I reach a point where it's ahhhh, I am leaving town, well at least I am not logging into myspace for awhile. Nothing personal to anyone, but I need to be on my own.

Basically I am an urban hermit. Yes I go out to work, am sociable, teach classes, give uni tours and generally try to be outgoing and helpful. But something happens when I get home, it's like it's time to pull up the drawbridge and keep the marauding hordes at bay. Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoy going out, but when I am at home, that's it. I suppose if you have read any of my previous posts, now with just me and my lovely wife at home, it is fabulous. We pushed out the kids, step kids and grand kids, only problem is, like Stephen King said sometimes they come back, but at least it's only a visit, and they go to their own homes... after awhile. Doesn't mean I don't love them to the end of the earth, but grandpa is grumpy and raising the drawbridge, so get going quick, before he turns into a werewolf or something

Cruel aren't I? Maybe, or at 56 I know what I enjoy. I like revving up flight simulator x and flying gatwick to glasgow on my computer, or play console/computer games for hours, and yes occasionally going out with friends, unless it's a full moon that is.

I especillay enjoy doing what I am doing right now, at home, just finished a Terry Pratchett's Making Money, and posting on my blog.

Take care til next time

Saturday, 16 February 2008

The day is near

Did I say I was quitting smoking on the first of February? No thats impossible. Well the month is not over so my resolution stands a chance of happening. We need the money. Someone in their giant carbon footprint SUV backed into our lovely little proton. They said they didn't see the car, well obviously they didn't, maybe they weren't looking.

The proton, a malaysian car can take a licking and keeps on ticking (old timex advert). That car has been the most reliable car I have ever had. Unfortunately it's so old (R Reg) that the damage from bigfoot backing into our car has made it a total write off. So no more proton.

We have driven that car all over the uk, in all kinds of weather, roads, etc and it just keeps going. It's only needed brakes and tires and 1 new radiator, but it never left us stranded. Well we only paid for brakes and tires, cause the poor thing never got serviced. An oil change every 80,000 miles whether it needed it or not.

We packed that thing up till the doors were bending out and the boot was warped and it just kept going and going. And it went well, any speed up the motorway you dialed in, it went. Any amount of heat or cold outside it kept going.

We loved that car, it was not flash, some of you may never have heard of proton cars (www.proton.com). Whatever, they last forever, or until some nunce backs into it.

So we have to save for a car so there go the fags. We spend far too much money on smoking, so it has to go. I think it's going to take me longer to get over the loss of that car (it was sooo dependable) than it took me to get over my ex wife announcing she was leaving.

I have owned 3 protons in all, all rock solid cars. I wish they could have made it as a brand, but maybe someday. Now as much as I would like a flash car if I can find another proton like the last one I will buy it.

Oh and about my resolution, no more smoking after February 27th or no car, so wish me luck. And I hate riding the bus, but I'll leave that to another blog.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Resolutions for 2008

It's 2008 already. I've been in the UK for 10 years. And no new resolutions for 2008. I suppose I could resolve to quit smoking, but I have been planning on that for a long time. I have successfully quit numerous times in 2007, for at least 8 hours. Maybe this year I will quit smoking for good. It's expensive, smelly, and nowadays it's anti-social.

There's an old song where the chorus goes, watching captain kangaroo and smoking cigarettes now don't tell me, got nothing to do. Well captain kangaroo was a kids presenter ages ago in the states. And it's true it's hard to get bored if you have a pack of fags and tv, well sky tv.

Ok here it is, a resolution for February 2008, I am actually going to quit smoking then. It's easier to plan on quitting in the future and when you have 2 packs of fags on hand, but there it is a resolution, bit late for a new year resolution but a resolution nonetheless.

What I don't like is the how like America, the UK has jumped on the anti smoking bandwagon. Like Eddie Izzard said when they banned smoking in American bars, "no smoking and soon no drinking and talking either". They have banned smoking everywhere indoors, soon you won't be able to smoke in your own house, and they'll start taxing you for the air you breathe. The best program on tv about this was a raging anti smoker confronting a smoker in a bar before the ban. She told him off for polluting the air. He smiled and told her that his cigarette smoke does not have the same impact on pollution that her car does. That pissed her off. She said she needed her car, but he got his point across, her car is making it hard for everyone to breath, his smoke, well there we go.

I've seen it here and in the states where the government makes a big issue the individuals problem. With global warming (that needs discussing) they try to get individuals responsible for a problem that reaches far past the carbon footprint of 1 family. What about industry?

Now, if we actually were causing global warming or not, conserving resources is still a good idea. Breathing is a good idea. If everyone is so worried about our carbon footprint why aren't the car manufacturer producing hydrogen fuel cell engines that have no pollution now! The oil companies, producing nations (including Britain) want us to suck on the tit of oil for as long as possible, make us guilty for it, tax us, and keep it up as long as possible. It's good for the economy. In the mean time blame the small guy for global warming, start wars for oil (also good for economies), and hope no one notices. I need a fag.