Friday, March 30, 2007

Robocop versus Neo

A little something for the weekend. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

MBNA junk mail

I have been deluged by junk mail from MBNA, my credit card company. This morning I had one letter inviting me to take out a loan, a separate letter telling me I could handle my account on-line, and another letter trying to sell me insurance. All in one day! I phoned MBNA many months ago, telling them to stop this monkey business, but the call was routed to an Indian call center and the operator must have interpreted my plea as 'Please, oh please, send me more junk mail. Send me everything, twice. I love it.'

So I called them again, and they tell me it will take eight weeks to stop the flow. Eight weeks! The Apollo 11 manned mission to moon took just over a week to send astronauts to the moon and back. Perhaps MBNA's central sorting office has been outsourced to a far off outpost in a dark corner of the galaxy, you know, where labour costs are even cheaper and employee/labour laws don't apply.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Roosevelt on being a real man

An excellent quote from Theodore Roosevelt (April 23, 1910):

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

It really puts the speeches of Bush and Blair in perspective. They are just sound-bite monkeys in comparison.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Schizophrenic weather

Today was a very weird day for weather. We had bright sunshine accompanied by super strong winds, interspersed with rain and a patch of sleet.

And now I've just opened my window to reveal really large snowflakes, lightly drifting from the skies as if the gods above just had an almighty pillow fight.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Armando Iannucci

From last week's column, by comedy maestro Armando Iannucci:

"BBC admits all the crimes in Crimewatch are made up In what seems to be the worst scandal to hit the TV industry so far, the BBC today confessed that none of the crimes shown on Crimewatch ever happened. 'It's a classic scam,' said a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police.

'The corporation encouraged employees to make up crimes and report them to the police, just so there are loads of dramatic reconstructions for actors to do. The police know about this, but don't take any action because the lines for the public to phone in on are actually premium rate and all the money goes to the Met."

Friday, March 16, 2007

300 film and Gym Jones

'300' looks like a real adrenaline driven, blood-spattered, killing fest. It's out next week and has already gone down a storm in the US. I can't wait.

Also, check out this mental gym where the actors trained to. Gym Jones. Here are a few quotes from the site:

"What you know does not matter - what you do matters."

"Gym Jones is not a cozy place. There’s no AC, no comfortable spot to sit and there are no mirrors. ...Effort and pain may not be avoided. Physical and psychological breakdowns occur. The support of a like-minded group, dedicated to The Art of Suffering, provides a safety net"

The 'Art of Suffering'. I like it.

Commodore come-back

Commodore is making a come back in the PC gaming market. The beautiful Commodore Amiga (pictured above) was the computer of my childhood. I can still recall the endless number of hours spent playing Sensible Soccer, the broken joysticks, the 1/2 megabyte upgrade. Good times indeed. From memory, the Amiga had a pretty solid Windows interface that never crashed, and this was in the 1980's!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Injuries abound ... time for some Jintropin?

Not good. First Mal busts his calf muscle, then Abs's foot get stomped in a game of football, and now I have a niggling pain in my knee cap that's making it difficult to walk up and down the stairs. Maybe it's time to do a Stallone, and start taking a miracle growth hormone to keep ourselves young and sprightly?


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Body of Anna Nicole Smith ...

A snippet from Ianucci's hilarious column in the Observer:

Body of Anna Nicole Smith has signed $14m book deal

HarperCollins has signed up the body of Anna Nicole Smith to tell its side of the story. It's thought the 'morto-biography' will be ghost-written.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Squash update - "Man down !"

A few weeks back, the regular RMF squash session took a turn for the worse when Mal's calf muscle decided to shred itself to pieces for no apparent reason. The man's been to the physio, had MRI scans, and he's used a crutch, so this is a proper injury, no messing. But does this stop him? Oh no. He's just come back from a skiing holiday! If only the RMF gave out medals.

And with one man out of the game, do we start booking one squash session instead of the usual two? Oh no, Abs and I played a full two sessions this weekend, with the wounded man relegated to watching (that's got to hurt more than the wound itself).

I have to say, this weekend's squash was some of the most enjoyable I've played in a long, long time, and this is the loser talking! In the early stages I was 2-1 up in games, but then Abs figured out my game won four games in a row, taking it to 5-2. At this point, I figured our court time was nearly up, and I may as well 'unleash the beast', so to speak. It was time for raw power. Using brute force, I managed to bring the score to a more respectable 5-3, but by this time we were both exhausted, like two boxers in the final round. We were running into over-time and we were both waiting for somebody to knock on the door and tell us our time was up. This is what normally happens. But the knock never came. No towel was dropped, no bell rung. I decided to use up everything I had left in the tank and I powered through another game, taking it to 5-4. At this point I wanted another game, but I knew it was not the right thing to do, it would have been inhumane. Our minds were willing, but our bodies had given up. So we stopped there. But what a session.

(The Oscar for 'best game of match' goes to the 6th game, when the score went from 3-2 to 4-2 to Abs).

Using Google to enrich your life on the web

This is a very quick-and-dirty introduction how using Google's various tools can enrich your life on the web.

Once you have signed up to Google you will be able to build a personalised Google home page. Here is my page as an example:

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On this single page I have a window in to my G-mail account, a collection of jottings and reminders from Google Notes, a window showing the last 10 RSS feeds from Google Reader, market news from the Financial Times, and a selection of BBC news feeds that tickle my fancy. You can add all sort of things on this page directly from Google (see 'add stuff' on the top right), or you can browse the web and any RSS feeds you like, as I did with the BBC stories. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Also, if you have too much content to fit on a single page, you can add multiple tabs (as you do with excel).

The first step is to sign in to Google. Clicking here should bring up the page below, where you can create a g-mail account. These login details can then be used whenever you need to login to any core Google product (Blogger, G-mail, Google Reader etc). G-mail takes a little bit of getting used to because it uses 'labels' instead of 'folders' but once you get the gist of it, it is so much better than Hotmail.
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Once you have your g-mail account set up, if you go to the Google homepage and click 'My account', it brings up the screen below.
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You won't have many services to start with, but these can be easily added if you click 'More' (bottom, right of screen).

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From this page, you can add all the tools you like. If you click on 'labs' this brings you to Google's beta products. These include some of my favourites such as Google Reader and Google notes. There's even a free web-page creator!

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If you are new to RSS, the BBC have a good backgrounder on it here. RSS feeds are basically information feeds that can include anything from news web-sites to blogs. What's more, Google Reader is the most popular RSS reader out there and it is a cinch to use. The joy about using RSS readers is that the information comes to you, instead of you having to go to it. The screen shot above is of my Google Reader. You can see the unread stories are in bold.

I hope this has given you a good taster of the possibilities on offer.