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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great, Average & Small all in one app.

While waiting and assisting in daughters recovery (which is going well but slowly you'll be pleased to hear), I've been pondering big questions as is my occasional want. Afterall, wasn't it Eleanor Roosevelt who said:
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
In my mind's eye she may have been a batty old biddy in a similar vein to @CatBinLady although in reality, history records her as a powerhouse of a woman and far more than just the first Lady of the USA (while her husband was President) I suspect she was actually something akin to the tough 80's Margaret Thatcher.

Now, to my big-ish question. Well, it's a big sort of question in my world because I think it will have an impact on a large portion of the planets population eventually. Geo-located Social Media stuff again.... I seem to be harping on about this a bit, but to be fair, it's moving along rapidly.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) usually have interesting and acurate speakers who follow their mantra with "Ideas Worth Spreading", but for the first time I found myself heavily disagreeing with one of them. Just before I get into it, If you've not watched any of the TED speakers, I'd highly recommend their Top 10 Talks of all time. To get back to the point - Seth Priebatsch gave a talk entitled "Building the game layer on top of the world". I hadn't heard of him either, but it turns out he's one of the guys behind the application "SCVNGR". Here he is in action:



So can you guess where I'm going to disagree with him? I've long espoused my views on Facebook so it should come as no surprise that I was very pleased to hear/read that the new facebook will be arriving soon. (ed: Actually this article isn't 100% correct. The source code will start to become available on the 18th, but the public alpha won't be open until October). Hopefully it will bring some healthy competition that might shake up the zuckerberg machine. It's not that I'm a facebook hater, but it is broken and needs fixing. If things go particularly badly for the FB crew there might even be enough material to make a second 'Social Network' movie. See, there's always an upside. For their brand at least.

So for me, to hear our "Proud Princeton dropout" (who is self titled the "Chief Ninja" at SCVNGR - Oh dear) suggesting that Facebook is the Social Layer framework for connections and that it's construction is complete and if you're not happy about that, there is nothing you can do, just sounds naive and mis-judged. Half a billion people (the membership of Facebook) means that there are still a further 6 billion people (at least) that don't use it.

You often find sites and applications now that will enable you to login using your facebook credentials rather than having to re-register with the particular system you're about to use. This implies a level of trust with facebook which I'm not convinced exists. I'm concerned that developers and users alike are rushing headlong into a facebook disaster and we still have no alternative in sight. In fact, Seth's only argument for facebook being the ruling force in terms of social network connections, is this lack of an alternative. This is why I still have high hopes for both Diaspora* and the heavily rumoured Google Me

That's the first problem with Seth's little chat. The second and more fundamental to his plans is that of the "game layer" or the "location-based social application market". I hope you're already aware that facebook is trying to join this game, all be it belatedly in the form of facebook places (So if you've got a facebook account, make sure you've got your security settings for "places" sorted out -Ed). Luckily, most of europe don't have this functionality just yet, but it's just around the corner. You have been warned. The big player in this market though, is Foursquare who seem to have a far more mature approach to the way it works and hot on their heels is Gowalla who both do fairly similar things.

They have both made a much bigger splash in the US than this side of the pond as yet, but they are starting to gain momentum as news of their existence surfaces. It's all about checking in at locations like The supermarket, a football match, a concert, a shop...work, anywhere... In it's early days (and we're still in this phase in the UK to a certain extent) all you're doing is sharing your whereabouts with your friends - or the world in general if that's what you'd prefer. Over time, you earn badges for doing things (25 check-ins for example) and this provides you with a sort of status not unlike that outlined by Seth. Foursquare's favourite badge has to be that of Mayor, which you can earn by checking into a place on multiple occasions over a period of time. Imagine being the Mayor of Lidl! - will wonders never cease?

So this is all well and good, but the bigger problem is "Do people want to broadcast the fact that they are in a particular location just for the sake of gaining a badge?"

I think the answer is most definelty no. So, Seth - to overlay gaming onto social networking is fine for the kids, but where is the benefit to the greater good??... However... When it starts to get interesting is when checking into a supermarket, for example, means you get your newspaper that you collect in store for free or something similar. Customer rewards!! In the US, the GAP store have already been trialling this, with a 25% discount for foursquare users checking in. It's safe to say, that once the retailers and the public get behind a concept like this, it will go viral, and it will be big news.

So there we have it.... The idea is Geo/Social networking, the event is the launch of such products and the people? Well, they're us dumb schmucks using it all....

Have a great day.
Sincerely, the Mayor of Golfy's Office.

Friday, August 27, 2010

WTF!?

All is going well with Operation Daughter.... so that's a relief.  Sadly they failed to remove her "Wake up and be grumpy" gland, so we still have that to contest with.  We wouldn't have it any other way though...

I'm sure you understand, dear reader, that I busy being supportive and huggable, so until normal service is resumed, here's some weird stuff for you.  Please do not adjust your set.





The Dollar ($) Re-design Project

And my current faveourite website of the moment: Like Mom, Like Dad

Aww Bless...
TTFN

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Proof of Time Travel

First things first....  Finally got round to catching up with my Google Reader feeds from the weekend.  I use "Gruml" on the Mac for this, and "NewsRack" on the iPhone and if I really have to, then just a good old browser on a PC. However, when the unread counter is over a thousand I have a new policy. "Mark All As Read" and start again.  Life's too short and there's too much information....

This brings me on to some interesting thoughts on the nature of human intelligence in the Internet age.

I've read a couple of articles recently that have talked about the way the human brain works while surfing the Internet. If I've understood the concepts and got it right then what I found surprising is that we use a different area of our brain when we surf compared to say, trying to solve a problem. Apparently we use our short term memory far more when ingesting new information and so these are the synapses that get fired the most when reading the wealth of material available to us.  The problems arise when we have so much of this information that we suffer a sort of short-term memory overload to the point that using your short-term storage becomes the norm.  When that happens, things aren't committed to the longer term memory and so are forgotten altogether.  Essentially we forget to analyse in any depth the stuff we find interesting.

Now this has started some healthy debate of the dangers of surfing - ie: over utilising your short term memory in the longer term or in tabloid form: "Surfing makes you stupid" but does it?

I'd argue it doesn't. It just changes the way you think about things.  I'm sure you've noticed yourself saying "I'll just google it" and such like. This doesn't mean you're stupid - it just means there are easier ways to uncover bits of information than we are traditionally used to.

Let's face it, 10 years ago if someone had said to you "Do the BBC have a clock?" what would you have done ? Other than respond with "I've no idea, you'll have to ask them".  Now, you'd google "BBC Clock" and get something like this or this. (Truly awesome).  Just because you can get the answer to (just about) anything very very quickly doesn't make you stupid. It should actually be freeing up the areas of your brain that were being used for storing all that useless information to re-use for analysing the now enormous volumes of fresh data that we can find every moment of the day.

So, perhaps what we're really seeing is an evolution in the way we use our brains, and as long as we keep the machines going to manage the record of human knowledge (as digitised as it is so far) then we have nothing to fear in this change.  In fact if we take it to a logical conclusion, the machines are the new library and perhaps in time, the storage will be more like this:





Interesting that a concept like this existed long before any of the tools to begin to achieve it did and that it was a man from Bromley who wrote it in a book in 1895.  More terrifying is the thought that we could actually end up as Eloi and Morlocks. The Eloi being the lazy good for nothings with no interest in the past and everything at their fingertips (Google surfers) while the Morlocks, the hardworking underground dwelling workers, maintain the systems that hold all human knowledge.  Well, it's possible.....   If a little unlikely.  Makes for a good story though. Kudos to Mr. Wells.

But wait second....  If Mr Wells came up with in 1895, is it possible that he had actually travelled through time ?  As we all know time travel is perfectly possible and a completely natural thing for humans to do. The problem with it as we understand it today, is that it's a one way trip only.  Like you, I spend all my time travelling into the future.  The real genius will come when one of us figures out a way to go backwards, or even forwards faster than the rest of us and while I'd romantically like to think that H.G. had made such a journey, I remain unconvinced.

There is a little sniff of evidence in the form of his self penned epitaph: "I told you so. You damned fools." and of course he's famed for his science fiction writing, but as yet I've not seen an "Invisible Man" (I wonder why?), or heard about the "War of the Worlds" or even seen "The First Men in the Moon", "on" no problem, but not "in". As for "The Shape of Things to Come"... other than predicting submarines and wikipedia, it looks like he missed the mark.

Still, let's not wish our lives away - there's far too much to do now, let alone if we were on fast-forward.  But then it's not for me to fill up the Internet (and your RSS feed) with all this pondering. Your brain's got enough to deal with already. Luckily, neither of us have to worry. It's all here already: H.G.Wells' The Time Machine and How Stuff Works: Time Travel

References:
The Time Machine Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] Hot Tub Time Machine (Unrated) [Blu-ray] The Time Traveler's Wife [Blu-ray]H.G. Wells' First Men in the Moon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BB11 The end of an era... almost

The rain didn't disappear completely, but it centainly abated and we had warm and pleasant sunshine for most of the shopping expedition. The tough part of this, is that it lasted most of the day. I love a good bit of shopping as much as the next man* but my feet weren't in agreement after 6 hours of staggering around both town and city.

We did get some bits and pieces though and all was generally well with the world. Also managed to pick up a couple of fun items for daughter's forthcoming post-op recovery session over the next three weeks. Breakfast bowls - you can never have enough breakfast bowls - so a couple of brightly coloured and stripy jobs are bound to cheer her up, and a bell.

Now, I was dead set against a bell, but Mrs G thought it would be hilarious for daughter to have me at her beck and call while she's immobile in bed and I'm trying to work for a living!  For a while I though I was going to be able to avoid this misery because we couldn't find a bell anywhere, but in the end the docks came to their rescue.  The Antiques center had a few Ship's bells and hand bells of various types and when I got behind the idea I was all for a hotel desk bell, which is not only functional, but makes for nice furniture too - but the final decision was with Mrs G and she settled on a small painted bell from the waterways museum.  Daughter was thrilled - father is not - but as long as she's OK, she can have whatever she wants. This is how the world is with father's and daughters.

Today however, there are two points of note....

1) Tonight is the BigBrother final. I've not really mentioned it too much, but I have been keeping my finger on the pulse of it. I can confidently predict that it'll be won by Josie Gibson from Bristol. Always good when a local does well, and she is a genuinely lovely person (at least as far as we can see) so looking forward to her reaction.

I know Big Brother get's a hell of a kicking from the holy-ier than you crowd who claim it's benign, bland, bloaty, boring television that takes talentless plebs and lifts them to a status they don't deserve to have. Well, I'm afraid I beg to differ for the most part. Everyone, no matter who they are, has a talent of some sort. That doesn't mean they should automatically be afforded all the trappings of wealth just because they can burp the alphabet backwards for example. But it does mean that if they have something new and are prepared to put up with having their every move watched 24x7 for 3 months in the name of entertainment, well then they at least deserve a modicum of respect.

Over the 10 years it's been on our screens it's had it's fair share of controversy, but I think in the end, it's been a social experiment that's proved very interesting and has shown many of us how the media really works. What goes on behind the wizard's curtain so to speak. Particularly when it comes to the red-top press and the glossy magazines. Heat wouldn't even exist if it hadn't been for BigBrother (which is of course a great shame, but you can't have everything). On the plus side, it's made Davina McCall a household name, so it will be very interesting to see what happens in her career post BB.

There is no doubt that BB changed the way we think about television in this country. It's impacted every walk of life in some form or other, be it large or small. Everything from the near diplomatic situation between India & the UK (caused by inherent racism), a punch up that resulted in security being called in, almost sex on live television (thank god we all missed most of that!) through to an alleged MP behaving like a cat....or should that be an MP allegedly behaving like a cat??? :-) There's been WAG's, pop stars, builders and bookies. Geeks and Nerds, Transvestites and imbeciles. It's had it's run in the sun though and it's time for it to pack up it's bags and shuffle off into the sunset. But it's not over just yet..... There's one last spurt of Big Brotherness before it finally pops it's clogs. Ultimate Big Brother

Channel 4, in their infinite wisdom have come up with this wheeze. They're taking housemates from all of the previous series of Big Brother and selecting who they consider to be the best for a stint in the house where we get to decide who really is the best of the best of the rest. And what, you might ask, is the point of that ????

Fair question - and it's got a very simple answer... nothing more than entertainment. You may chose to enjoy, or you may choose to switch over. As long as you're not watching the X-Factor, I couldn't care less what you decide, but I would remind you that this is the end of an era and as such it's televisual history in the making. Personally I can't miss it. (8pm Channel 4 - 24th August 2010) and if you need to catchup, take a look at SeeSaw



2) Back to work :-( Well, I can't sit around for ever, and it's not like I haven't got any work to do, there's plenty right now.

Which means finally, some fun stuff just before I go and get on with it....   Aren't Beer ad's the best in the world?  Well, probably....






* i.e. Not at all! Women don't understand that when men shop that is what they do. They do not wander aimlessly all over the place 5 times looking for the same thing, they just shop. Men say "I'm going to get a paintbrush" then they go to B&Q and get a paintbrush. Women say "I'm going to get a handbag" and fourteen hours later they're back in the first shop they visited buying the third pair of shoes of the day and not a handbag in sight.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dinner near Cemetery Junction

The day started very well with beautiful sunshine at 7am. While Mrs G dozed, I snuck out to make a cup of tea for her breakfast to open cards with.

Everyone loves Breakfast in Bed don't they although full English was not to be today. I did rustle up some diced bacon in scrambled egg on toast when we finally got ourselves moving.

Lunch was at daughter's pub with W&J and jolly excellent it was too. With sunshine like that and temperatures still unbearably high the air conditioning was essential and extremely well managed by James-A-Saurus.... This is an in joke apparently.

The pub in question is pretty much the last pub from both Cheltenham and Gloucester as you're heading east out of the westcountry. It's not actually the last one but it's not far off. It nestles comfortably at the foot of a very green and treelined hill on a crossroads. One of the roads of the crossroads leads off towards Stroud in Gloucestershire.

The reason I mention it is because it provides a link to my second movie review of the weekend. "Cemetery Junction" was filmed in several locations but the most beautiful of these is without doubt the countryside surrounding Stroud, Gloucestershire. Obviously you need to have seen the film to know what I'm talking about, so for that reason alone it gets a "recommended".

Set in the 1970's it tells the story of three mates who live in the backwater village of Cemetery Junction (which I believe is supposed to be a suburb of Reading). One of them gets a job with an insurance firm and believes that this job is his future.

Originally it had the title of 'The Man From the Pru' but for reasons that become obvious during the story a name change was appropriate. It's written and directed by Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant so you'd be forgiven for expecting a comedy (for that is what it is billed as) such as this to be fully loaded with the wit we've seen portrayed in 'The Office' and 'Extras'.

Well, not a bit if it. Don't get me' wrong, it is funny and has some truly shaped and polished set pieces - I just think if you called it a Romantic Comedy Drama, you'd be much nearer the mark. The laughs that are there aren't those belly rippers from their other works, they're just more considered and evolved laughs if you will. A more mature humour. That said, the dinner table scenes with Mum, Dad and Gran have Gervais written through them like a stick of rock and great japes and fun they are too.

As a child of the 70's I felt they captured it perfectly and while I enjoyed it, in places it felt a little lost. It stumbled around with a couple of the other relationships and could have been confused for a piece of Hollywood mush filmed in the UK, but it most definitely isn't. It does have half a brain about it. For these reasons it's a good 6.5 out of 10, rising to a 7 after thinking about it.

Mrs G's review: "I've seen better, but I've seen worse". Pretty sure that's a 5 out if 10. Not bad for a birthday review.

And so to sleep, perchance to dream. Although sadly there wasn't much hope of that given the huge amount of rainfall we experienced overnight. The incessant drumming on the skylights rivalled the neighbours Thrash Metal band in all but rhythmic ability. Luckily today is another day of rest for Mrs G and I, with shopping on the agenda after a bit of a Monday morning lie-in.

Next time I'm doing movies, (Which might be later today if this rain keeps up) you can expect a review of "The Eiger Sanction". Have fun.



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Singing in the rain and Happy Birthday

Pretty much as expected, the lawn did not get mown due to the down pouring of rain. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The grass that we refer to as a lawn, has been quite parched of late and was in desperate need of a good drenching. The problem is though, that while it was looking brownish it was still harbouring growth, and now with added rainwater it's had a dramatic spurt over the last few days to the point that it's become a green and luscious mop of a lawn, badly in need of a trim and blow dry. All good things come to mows who wait. Forecast is much better for today.

I did however find time to acquire the requisite items for the forthcoming day of birth celebrations and a new set of paintbrushes to crack on with glossing where needed.

With such humidity as this it was a pleasure to lie on the carpet gently pulling the gloss along the woodwork with the patio doors wide open to enjoy the breeze made by the falling rain. Have to be careful not to let it in mind, water and gloss are not good bedfellows. A rewarding if slightly boring task when all is said and done.

With that job out of the way there really wasn't much enthusiasm to be rushing around anywhere, especially given the temperature, so instead, a cup of tea, biscuits and a movie - just like a rainy Sunday afternoon - but on a Saturday!! Bonus.

So, out on DVD this week..... "Clash of the Titans". Not the old 1981 version full of Ray Harryhausen animations (which were incredible in their day - and still are today) but an all new version with CGI giant Scorpions, Pegasus' (or is that pegasi?), flying skeletal demons, Medusa and of course the Kraken! Very nicely done if you enjoy the odd swords and sandals fantasy adventure. The question us, did it need to be done? Having been done already and considered by many to be complete.

As it turns out, I think it did. It's made it accessible to a new generation of movie goers and the story continues to hold up centuries after it was written. Strong performances from Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson & Sam Worthington help it along even if at times it feels a little like 'Lord of the Rings Lite'. Looks like it was filmed in Scotland (mountains), Wales (slate mines) and some random Persian desserts that could just as easily be a gravel quarry in Essex.

One thing I'd forgotten is the name of the city that the Kraken attacks unless princess Andromeda (strain) is sacrificed. Luckily I had a pencil to hand and made a note of item number 422/9849, the £9.97 liquidiser, which seems ideal for turning the Titan into a smoothie. Reckon that makes me' an Argonaut?

And so to my X-Factor avoidance tactic of taking Mrs G to the pub for dinner. This is a genius plan because it means we'll miss it and not get addicted thus ensuring that we have available Saturdays from now until Christmas. What I hadn't factored in though was the possibility that daughter might want to watch it. Sure enough and true to form a text message from the working daughter arrives to say 'Please record X-Factor and don't watch it without me' .... The best laid plans. ...

Of course you'd think that this wouldn't be a problem because she can watch it on her own without us. For some reason it just never works out like that does it?

Naturally Mrs G and I are both deafened by the fact that daughter is happy to spend time with us - (I mean most kids are embarrassed to spend time with their parents) so for that privilege even I can put up with the X-Factor and that bleeding Simon Cowell/Cheryl Cole evil combo...

...and for the record, it didn't disappoint. It truly is worse than it ever has been so far. What I found most disturbing was the frequent and obvious use of AutoTune throughout the show. What the he'll is all that about? Surely if it's an audition, then what you hear us what you get. From that display, it appears that what you get it what the producers want you to hear... I have a recollection of ITV running into a spot of bother for fixing a game show or two before. I have a feeling there's a lot more script writing and post production work going on on TXF than there probably should be.

On the plus side, I might just manage to auto-tune out after all. At least until Christmas.

But for today....
Happy Birthday Mrs G. All my love, Mr G.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

B-day preparations and artwork

Just so you know, the main reason for having a long weekend off from work this week is the wonderful Mrs G's birthday. Although she'd rather it wasn't. Usually we go away or do something a bit different, but this year we're not going anywhere in particular. Various reasons, but the main one being that it will just be nice to chill out and not feel we should be going somewhere or doing something.

I'm no fool though and I'm fully aware that this means we will almost certainly end up doing something as yet unplanned.

Yesterday saw us end-of-summer cleaning the entire house from top to bottom which is where my artwork came in handy. OK, so perhaps artwork isn't exactly the right description, but I did have a paintbrush in hand and various paints which I liberally used to patch up, touch over and cut in where visible knocks and scratches have manifested over the last 12 months or so. The result is that the place looks like new again and smells as if the Queen is coming to visit (ie: the waft of fresh delux is on the breeze)

We also endured oven scrubbing, window cleaning, full furniture removal and hoovering beneath, behind, besides and anywhere else beginning with be, as well as Mrs G's 24x7 laundry regime (seriously - don't hang it on the back of a chair - it *will* get washed. NB:This is not a complaint; merely an observation).

And with the weather being as muggy as it was I reckon we must have lost a few pounds in sweat. Sadly, still to do is lawn mowing and gloss paintwork, which weather permitting will be today once I've procured appropriate card and gift suitable to the more important occasion.

I'm thinking tonight might be the perfect occasion for Mrs G and I to have a trip into Chelters and sample a few of the hostelry's of impeccable quality. That's always entertaining, and I'd particularly like to steer her away from the launch of the X-Factor, because otherwise my Saturday nights will be wasted from now until Christmas (and that's an awful lot of Saturdays!).

Sunday will see us eating out for Sunday Lunch with W&J most likely at daughter's watering hole. Then Monday I suspect will be birthday shopping as Mrs G's been dropping heavy hints that all donations to her shopping fund would be gratefully received.

Actually, for a completely unplanned and empty weekend, we seem to have it all pretty much mapped out, but you never know.....


Finally - this bit might seem a little odd, but I've got these 3 or 4 articles that I really want to get and read and I just need somewhere to keep a record of them. There's no point in me bookmarking them in my browser because I'll probably be using a different browser when I find the required 20 minutes to sit and read them. So instead, I'm just going to dump them off here and then I'll know where they are. You can read them too if you like. ;-)

1. Web dev for mobile devices
2. BBC Radio 1 Dev API info
3. Social media work
4. Your brain on Google


Friday, August 20, 2010

The Chunder Mile

In conversation with Barnsey (our world famous runner and personal trainer; Good Luck with breaking the record for the Cotswold Way, by the way) last night the subject of the 'Chunder Mile' came up.

Now here is an interesting concept. The deal is you start by downing a pint of larger. You then run a lap of the running track (400m) and then stop and down another pint of larger. You continue in this mode for four laps then finish it off with a final pint just to settle your nerves. Sounds simple enough. Apparently the record is around the 7 minute mark. Now I like to think I can have a few drinks with the best of them.

After some deliberation, I've come to the conclusion that for this event I'd hardly be able to drink the 5 pints in 7 minutes let alone run 4x400m as well. Barnsey is very keen to get us all involved. Us, on the other hand, remain to be convinced.

It's not helped by the 'little stories' he related to us concerning last years event. Things like 'Some people were throwing up at the first bend - it's the gassy larger you see' and 'Most people take a while to recover. Like a day or two' - hmmmm. I think I could watch, but I'd struggle to run for the bus to be fair. It's not that I'm a bad runner - I could actually run for the bus and am occasionally seen running the odd 4 or 5k in the neighbourhood (when I'm on a health kick). No the problem is that I'm just not designed to be a runner.

When the basic survival skills for cavemen (which in all honesty we've superseded) were dished out, I didn't get the running /spear chucking ones. Instead I'm the one in the cave drawing up the "this is how we're going to catch a mammoth" plan on the wall. As I always say "Up here for thinking (points at head), down there for dancing (points at crotch)"

All things considered I think I'll sit the chunder mile out this year, but I might come along for immoral support - and perhaps intelligence gathering for next years cave paintings.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Best Laid Plans....

As Eddie Izzard once famously said... The best laid plans of mice and men!??! Mice!!? What plans are these mice hatching ? Break into the fridge, steal the cheese, load it into the mini's and escape via a convoluted route through Turin and into the mountains ??... or something like that anyway.

In my case, the best laid plans that have gone awry are those of my interesting Architectural meeting this morning. This means I drove all the way down here only for the customer to have a last minute change of plan and not be available for the planned session. Re-scheduling means that it's now this afternoon (which in theory is fine) although that does leave me in the sticky situation of spending my return journey in heavy rush hour traffic rather than mid-day flow.

I appreciate this sounds like a whinge and a moan, but genuinely it is not. I'm actually very glad to be in the company of some of my more technically aware colleagues and I'm relishing the opportunity to talk "geek" which is something of a rarity for me of late.

The problem they have to resolve is a fairly knotty one compounded by historic details that all must have "seemed like a good idea at the time" and now serve only to make our lives difficult and costly. I need to do more of this stuff - it's actually interesting, but there goes my peg/hole issue again.

In other news.... Day off tomorrow, which is a result. I'm doing very well for four day weeks lately. I actually have surpassed myself next week having planned a three day week at the last minute. This is a necessary plan though, with things that have to be done. Specifically next Friday will be a visit to hospital with daughter for an op. She's understandably concerned, as is Mrs G. I have to play the brave father figure and remind them that there's nothing to worry about and it will all be fine. If I'm honest, even I'm concerned, but then I wouldn't be human if I wasn't and I do know that in my heart of hearts that there's nothing to worry about and that everything really *will* be just fine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's been going on...erm...line.

Figured I should do one of those "Stuff you might have missed posts" because a) I've been a bit lax at posting anything at all for the last couple of days and b) There's a whole load of "Stuff that you might have missed"....   Luckily for you, I've dropped all the really rubbishy bits and kept the ones that are at least half interesting.

First up.... Two (count 'em - two) Top Tens.  The first is the top ten books that all good geeks and nerds should be reading and the second is the top ten most dangerous things to do on the Internet.  I'm pretty sure you can figure out the top of list for that one, but here they are anyway.

Top 10 Books for Geeks & Nerds as provided by Geeks Are Sexy - because of course, as we all know, they are...  My favourites would be "Wikinomics" and one that's not listed, but you can find if you look hard enough. "The Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce Sterling - one of those books I really enjoyed in my youth.

Now - The top 10 really dangerous and stupid things to do on the Internet (apart from searching for the Hacker Crackdown.... Oh... you already did that?... ooops!). Thanks to good old Gizmodo for elightening us all with this list. If you want to know how to protect yourself from these risky ventures, then you'll have to go and read the proper article here

  • Checking the "Keep me signed in" box on public PCs
  • Failing to update Microsoft Windows OS /Java / Adobe Reader / Adobe Flash
  • Searching for celebrity gossip, incriminating material (i.e. sex tapes)
  • Using BitTorrent to download copyrighted software/film/TV shows
  • Searching for free porn
  • Online gaming (free to play, social games on Facebook and beyond)
  • Leaving Facebook privacy settings wide open, therefore exposing personal info to all
  • Connecting to unknown wireless networks
  • Using the same password for every single online account
  • Trying to get a free iPad, PlayStation 3 or similar gadgets (scams/phishing)
On to the other stuff now....   Almost certain that you missed (because it's momentary) Tomasz Schafernaker, the BBC's weather man "flipping the bird" to use the parlance of our times.  It's a moment of BBC Weather history. To be fair, Simon McCoy's patronising tone explains it if you ask me.




Net News: and we're about to see the connection of the 5 billionth device to the Internet. I have no idea how many of the original DARPA machines are still connected (not many I suspect) and I wonder if their addressing got released back into the pool when they were switched off... anyway... 5bn is a hell of a lot, but the researchers say this is nothing and that in 10 years time, it will be more like 20bn. Fun times.

More geeky media fun now. If you take Justin Bieber's new single (who? -Ed) I know, I have no idea who this 7 year old is, but apparently he's some sort of pop sensation in the US. Anyway, if you take his current single and slow it down by 8-times, you actually get some half decent mood-music... I giggled. I mean, who though of that ? Of course, if you really don't like him, you can always just switch him off altogether.

J. BIEBZ - U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis


What I find most interesting bout this is the similarity to the story about the "Inception" soundtrack and speed of playback. I don't want to spoil the movie for you, but if you've seen it already, you might want to watch this. Fascinating stuff.



It just goes to show how much planning and thought goes into a really good movie.

One last social media snippet now: http://paper.li/ enables you to create a "Newspaper" (for want of a better description) based on your twitter feed. It looks at who you follow and who follows you and what they say and creates a single page with links to photo's and videos and stories that they've posted about. Interesting stuff, sort of like flipboard (but not with facebook and not as flashy looking - watch the video) is on the iPad. Here's mine for you to take a look at: http://paper.li/golfyball

And with that, the band in next door's garage have started up, so I'm off for a fight. Luckily tomorrow see's me on a visit to a customer location to do some far far more interesting geek ridden consultancy with a dash of architectural design. Yet again, this is something else I miss from my former life, before I became the square peg trying to fit in the round hole (See Andrew Marr, Popperian Cosmology & Me)

Fun times...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Recovery

Making a recovery is something that gets harder as you get older.  Clearly I had a BIG weekend and so some recovery is to be expected. Sadly this took almost all of Sunday, which really isn't a nice place to be. Mrs G cooked a stupendous roast beef dinner and it was all I could do to eat it. It was glorious, but my energy levels were beyond low.  For your entertainment - a very quick summary of events...

Friday a trip down to Dainton Park Golf Club for a game with S&J. One of the nicer golf courses in the country (although there are well over 7,500 to chose from) it's a stunning spot, with some beautiful holes and we were blessed with wonderfully warm weather.

And actually the golf was quite good too.  I'm not a particularly accomplished golfer, which is odd considering my names GolfyBall, but then again, I do enjoy a game even if it's very frustrating at times.  Here's my Dainton Park scorecard thanks to Golfshot GPS.  And yes, you guessed it... It's another fine app for the iPhone.


In fact, it's such a good app, that I happen to know a couple of people that have bought iPhones for the sole purpose of being able to use this app to track their golf scores and statistics.   You can find out all about it at http://golfshot.com/. While it's costs a few pounds, for under twenty quid, you really can't get a better system. The app provides you with high quality aerial views of each hole (similar to what you'd see in Google Maps or Google Earth) and it overlays GPS data on them so that you can see how far you are from the pin or the tee at any given moment.  This helps you with club selection and understanding the location of hazards on each hole.

Once you finish the hole you record how many shots you took, which club you used to drive with and how many putts you took. On completion of the round, the app uploads your scorecard onto the server and you instantly have stats for every game you've played. And on top of that, they are beautifully presented, so even if you've played an appalling round, at least the record of it looks good.  Highly recommended.

Well - from Dainton Park we trekked over to Torquay to meet up with a few of the rest of the lads.  A couple of beers, a wash and brush up and then into to Torquay proper for a couple more beers and onwards into the night.

Saturday morning saw us trying to make an early start to get over to Teign Valley Golf Course for the official match with all 12 of us. Not quite such a nice a course as Dainton Park, but still pleasant enough.  Sadly the weather and the traffic were against us all though.  By the time we were due to set out, we were still two men down due to the M5 and the school holidays no doubt and it was drizzling.  Golf in the rain just doesn't hold the same appeal for me, so I was expecting a disastrous 4 hours. I couldn't have been more wrong in my wrongness.

I had a cracking round (one of my best) which I appreciate isn't saying much, but it did leave me in second place overall - so I was very pleased.  A low scoring game for everyone really - and I suspect that the drinks on the evening before had something to do with that.  I felt fine :-)

Post match we followed a similar routine to Friday night only this time there was more of us. All good fun, but as I said, recovering is a slower process when your older. It's a sad fact.  This all leads up to Monday morning which came as quite a surprise for me.  To the point that I'd actually forgotten that I had to be at a Starfleet office by 10am... so I woke up with a bit of a start at 7am and then in a blind panic until I got on the road.

The Starfleet meeting was not fun either. In fact, far from it and just keep bringing me back round to the same old "Online Jobbing" questions that I mentioned last week. I am very close to the point where I have to do something about this situation. In the words of the dude "This aggression will not stand...man". I've started to make proper noises now. A recovery is needed.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

By the Power of .... Pentland Firth!

Not Castle Greyskull then?... Hmm.. OK, I can roll with that. To be honest, He-Man always came across as a bit effeminate to me, but anyway, I digress, and if you don't know what that was all about, you can read it up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Grayskull if you must.

Pentland Firth is the stretch of water between the northern tip of mainland Scotland (John O'Groats) and Hoy & South Ronaldsey which are the Southernmost parts the the Orkney mainland.


View Larger Map

This spot is about to become the source of some clean, green energy generation technology that's larger than any other in the world.

A company called Atlantis Resources (I like them already with a name like that - I wonder if they refer to their CEO as "The Man from Atlantis" ?) unveiled an enormous tidal turbine device (known as the AK-1000) on Thursday in Invergordon. OK, perhaps enormous is a bit of an exhageration. A typical 3-5 Megawatt offshore wind turbine has a blade diameter of approximatly 120 meters.. The Atlantis AK-1000 1MegaWatt turbine has a blade diameter of just 18 meters - so actually, by comparison, it's tiny.

The reason it's so small and yet still so powerful is down to physics. Water is 832 times denser than air, meaning you can generate similar amounts of power with much smaller blade sizes. This has the added benefit of being able to cram more of them in underwater, and of course you can't see them either. Theoretically everyone's happy. Anyway, you can read all about the projects they're working on at the Atlantis Resources website.

There was a stand out fact for me there though. Namely this:
It is estimated that in the United Kingdom, there is 18TWh/yr of technically extractable tidal current resource. 40% of this technically extractable resource is concentrated in the far north of Scotland (Pentland Firth and Orkney Islands).
18TWh/yr. How much is that then ? Interestingly enough it's an insane amount. I've had a look at the "BMRS" website, here for the most up to date and accurate numbers.
This BMRS website provides near real time and historic data about the Balancing Mechanism which is used by the National Grid (System Operator) as a means of balancing power flows on to and off the electricity Transmission System in Great Britain.
  In summary:
  • 18TWh is 18,000,000 MWh. 
  • Current UK consumption is 33,800 and 41,000 MWh per day. 
  • Therefore 18TWh would provide enough energy for the entire UK for 439 Days (or 1.2 years)
Can somone remind me again why we're NOT going all out to get the full 18MWh's worth installed? I mean there's plenty of Sea down here by Torquay.  Get and stick some windmills under it, then all these Silver surfers that have retired to these parts won't have to have tax payer funded subsidies to pay their electricty bills, and that would mean I could afford to play more golf.....   Maybe.... 

OK - it is highly possible that I'm over simplifying here - but you get the idea.

Happy Saturday - Four!!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Biggin it up to the Torquay massive


Friday and a day off. Some well earned rest you might think? but no. None of that.  I'm off down to Torquay with the lads to play golf.  Well actually, we're going for a quick game this afternoon, a few sherbert's this evening and a playing proper competition game of golf tomorrow morning. This will be followed by a few more sherbert's tomorrow evening and a trundle back up country on Sunday. At least that's the plan.

I Love Torquay Party Decoration NecktieBlogwise, you can expect updates but I can't guarantee when exactly.  I have some short blocks of free space at various times, so I'll do what I can.  It's not that I can't blog while I'm on the road (I've done that plenty of times before). It's just that it does require some thought, which will be tough, what with all the shenanigans that'll be going on.

Who knows, we might be lucky enough to come back with a stick of rock or an I <3 Torquay tie. Wouldn't that be nice. However, to begin with we have to put up with S and his amazing dis-organisational skills. Meaning we're probably going to end up staying in Fawlty Towers. I hear they have a Spanish waiter and that you shouldn't mention the war. I mean, I did once, but I think I got away with it.

Ultimately, anything could happen in the next 24 hours.... Wish me luck - I'll need it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flash... Ah-ahhh. He saved everyone of us!

To flash or not to flash that is the question.

Having read & watched this Dan Simmons piece about Andriod 2.2 on the HTC Desire and how it runs adobe flash, and I find myself considering jailbreaking my iPhone 4 just so that I can run flash too. I say, so that I can run flash, but actually even then I can't run the real live 100% cosher Adobe version of flash.

So what's going on and how are us mere mortals supposed to understand the pluses and minuses ?

Well, flash (in the form we're used to seeing) is a browser plugin that allows your web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, A.N.Other) to play animations and certain videos. For example in the UK the BBC uses the flash plugin to play it's video content. What this means for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch is that you simply can't watch flash video on these devices, because Apple won't allow the flash plugin on the mobile version of safari.  Apple have published their thoughts on flash for all the world to see and it explains why Apple don't allow it, but here's the conclusion that Steve Jobs draws from his article.
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.

The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 200,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.

New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.
Not to be outdone or put down by this, Adobe wrote their own reply, entitled Freedom of Choice, and the shorthand summary:

We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web — the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.

I'm actually with Mr Jobs on this one. HTML5 does a great job without the power hungry flash hassle and extortionate fee's involved for developers (The cheapest version "Flash Builder Standard" costs £163, "Flash Builder Premium" is £466, while "Flash Pro CS5" costs £653), but - and it's quite a big but - HTML5 is in it's infancy still. Most developers have not adopted it yet and so we still have a distance to go before it's a prevalent as flash is today.  I'm pretty sure that will still happen, but it's no instant fix.

In the meantime this means all the iApple device hackers are in their element trying to find new and interesting ways to make your iDevice play flash. Fun times.  Basically once you've applied a jailbreak to your device you can install all the stuff that Apple would rather you didn't.

Until recently the act of jail-breaking was illegal in the US, but there's been a change in the law and that means you can jailbreak without fear of reprisal. However, Apple still insist that jail-breaking invalidates your warranty - although this pre-supposes that they know you've done it, because it's just as easy to reverse the process should you ever want to.

How do you it then? Turns out it's really easy to Jailbreak the handset unless you've installed today's firmware upgrade. You see, this is how it goes with Apple and the Dev team. These guys spend their lives in mortal combat of iOS security. It's great fun for us to watch. Every time the Dev team find a way around the Apple security, apple release a patch to block it, and the Dev team start searching for another way in. Todays update (iOS 4.0.2) has locked it all up again, but you can expect the dev team to have that sorted today or tomorrow probably.

So, that's the decision made for me. I'll just hang on until next time round I guess. If you haven't upgraded (from 4.0.1) and you still want to jailbreak, simply visit this site in the iPhone safari browser: http://www.jailbreakme.com/ and from here you simply follow the instructions.

Once you're jailbroken, then you use the Cydia app (installed as part of the jailbreak) to install "Frash". Navigate to Cydia on your Home screen, then tap on “Manage --> Sources”, then tap “Edit” followed by “Add”. Type http://repo.benm.at then tap “Add Source”. Finally search in this source for "Frash" and install from there.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Miss Campbell's Nuggets on Jeremy Kyle ?

It's another beautiful day at the office. Just at a shame it has to be wasted by being *in* the office. Still, I'm over half way through my week, with just tomorrow to go. Bliss.  As I eluded earlier in the week though, this just means I'm stupid busy trying to get everything sorted out - all for the sake of one day off - it's ridiculous.

Long and the short of this means I'm not getting much time to write anything particularly interesting (or otherwise) in here today.  I will however, share two interesting things I've had highlighted to me. One to make you smile and one to make you go.. "Ooo...  geeekey...."

Smiling.   Try following this buffon on twitter:  @TrendingTales claims to be the "True Tales behind the Tweeted Trends in less than 140 Chars... Oh, wait... mostly True".  Quite funny on occasion. A couple of my favourites:

UK:Steven Gerrard & Simon Amstell fighting over Naomi Campbell 's Chicken Nuggets on the Jeremy Kyle show. I'd Rather have a BigMac.

LDN: #LiesIToldMyParents Amsterdam soccer festival kicks off today with Scotland v Brighton at the Covent Garden Pride stadium at 3pm GMT.

But there's loads more. They're taking the list of current regional trends from each Twitter region and trying to write a short story with them. Clever stuff - sort of... Have a look for yourself.

Now for that thing that'll make you go "Ooo... Geeekey..."



There is some proper nerdy use of a laser. I love it.

Ta ra.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Online jobbing

Yesterday was a really rubbish day in the office.  I got some stuff done, and then I got lumbered with some more stuff that no-one else wanted to do. Actually it may not be that they didn't want to do it, it may just be that they've all cleared off on holiday and left me to steer the ship into the nearest asteroid field. But like I always say in these difficult and demanding times....   Whatever.



Dilbert.com


Of course I don't actually hate my co-workers, and I don't entirely hate my job, but I'm at a point now where they've piled so much stuff on my shoulders that I've completely stopped worrying about any of it. I couldn't care less. As a team we're getting little or no support, constantly having the rules and regulations concerning what we do changed, and are basically unappreciated at every level. Sadly that leads to the same conclusion every time I analyse it.  Why am I bothering?

So on that note.... job hunting. It may not be the best time to be looking for another job given the current financial circumstances that we find the country in, but there's nothing wrong with reading the menu. It's only when you start ordering food that things can get complicated.  Especially if you go for the really expensive wine to help wash it down.

So what is there??...  Well, I've sample the first 5 job sites from Google. They are: Jobsite.co.uk, Totaljobs.co.uk, Monster.co.uk, Jobsearch.co.uk and fish4.co.uk/jobs.  Here's the quick and dirty results for a job in Information Technology within about 10 miles of where I live:

1000's of UK Jobs
74 Jobs
Leading UK Jobsite
456 Jobs
Build a better career, Find your calling
81 Jobs
UK Jobs from the best companies
56 Jobs
UK Jobs and London Jobs
127 Jobs

So that's an interesting set of results for a start....  All over the place. Leads me to think that the search criteria are somewhat spurious and/or the jobs in their databases are possibly non-existent in some cases.
So I'll delve a little deeper and see what I can discover.

Let's start with the salary filter.
  • Jobsite allows sort by Salary High to Low 
    • (The highest being £200k p.a. in Banking Sales - hardly I.T.)
  • TotalJobs allows sort by Salary High to Low 
    • (The highest being £18k per hour - a typo, clearly)
  • Monster has no Salary filter at all.
  • Jobsearch allows sort by Salary High to Low 
    • (The highest being £100k p.a. for Business development manager)
  • Fish4 lists the highest Salary as £45k
This leaves me with no faith in totaljobs.com at all. They appear to load up with any old jobs and not review the content of the database. So the chances of finding a decent match are going to be difficult to say the least.

Fish4 also get scrubbed at this point. If the best they have is 45k, then I'm not sure they'll have anything of any real interest especially as thats from an alleged sample of 127 jobs.

More filtering then....  Let's try Full Time and Permanent roles and sort by location, nearest first. Top two roles from each site:

Jobsite
Senior IT Audit Manager (£60k to £800k clearly another typo) or a Lead Consultant / Junior Project manager in Aylesbury (£450k to £500k more typos or very well paid work)

Monster
An HR Adminstrator (no salary) in the Army, or a Business Intelligence Developer in data warehousing (£40k & benfits).

Jobsearch
Software Development Manager, Windows, SQL & C++ (£50k to £60k)

Well, Jobsearch looks like it's the one most likely to come up with something that might fit.  It certainly appears to be the most professionally run and it does actually have salary filtering in the advanced search section of the site.  If you're looking for a job, and you're only using online tools to do it with, that's my recommendation. But, and this I think is the most important thing I can tell you.  Make sure you've spoken to your contacts first.  There's every chance that someone you know might be looking for a person just like you.  Places like LinkedIn are full of such opportunities.  Don't be afraid to ask.

For now, I have to go back to working for the man. 

Monday, August 09, 2010

4 days and a break

Well, the weekend has been and gone and not much fun it was too.  Don't get me wrong, it was nice not to be at work, but it wasn't full of fun and interesting things to do. It was quiet, and actually quite pleasant in a "nothing to do" sort of way. Hmm..  maybe it was more fun than I'm giving it credit for.

Yesterday was Sunday lunch with the in-laws which regrettably clashed with what could have been Sunday BBQing with my Mum & Dad. Trouble is, we had the Sunday roast on the cards for a couple of weeks because daughter hardly ever has a Sunday off and she does like "Grannies Roast Dinner". Ho Hum... such is the way of things.

This week doesn't look like it's going to be an awful lot of fun. I've got to cram 5 days worth of work into 4 days because on Friday I'm going on a little holiday.  Well, I say holiday... it's a golf weekend with the lads in Torquay. Torquay of all places??  Retirement home of the old and infirm. I'm sure we'll have a blast.  Still, it's S's organisational skills that are being put to the test, and already things are looking a bit shaky. I don't want it to be a disaster, but a few mishaps along the way on his part, are bound to be entertaining for the rest of us.

He's already booked it for the weekend of his son's birthday... I mean... how the hell could you manage to forget that!??  This means he's going to have to race back on the Sunday morning, and he'll no doubt be trying to use that as an excuse not to have a drink on Saturday night. He's got two hopes there. Bob Hope and No Hope.  The rest of the lads would never let him get away with that. So I suspect he's going to need a lie in and a late breakfast on Sunday morning, and as a result should expect to arrive at the birthday party by about 4pm......  Don't start feeling sorry for him. It's his own fault for not managing the organisation appropriately.  Buffoon.

Of course, it's all fun and games until someone looses an eye, so it may well turn out that we get him blind drunk on Friday night (which will do his golf no end of good) and let him off a little on Saturday. Time will tell.

Right then. How about a few bits and bobs you might have missed....

The geeky tech bit...Let's start with a teeny tiny canon. This looks like it might be fun, if a little dangerous:






The uplifting bit...  seriously. If you think you're alone and there's two things you need to know. 1) That's perfectly alright. and 2) This is the HOW TO:






OK, OK, lets stop being all namby pamby now.  Time for the "bit of a giggle" bit....
I know I've mentioned the Expendables elsewhere, but now Mr Stallone has started the promotionaly work. I don't normally watch this stuff, but stick with this one... Clever stuff what they've done to YouTube

Finally, resignation seems to be in the air....

In the last week I've heard of a good friend and colleague whose leaving Starfleet for new ventures. He will be missed by many (myself included) I have no doubt. As you know such disasters happen in groups of three. So who are the other two ??

Well it turns out, the CEO of HP (Mark Hurd) has been up to no good with his expenses and Jodie Fisher, although it appears this may be not quite as interesting as everyone had originally thought. In fact, this could probably be considered not to be a disaster at all.  And the third one to go ??

Mark Papermaster of Apple. He was, it's alleged, the man responsible for the iPhone 4 antenna.  He had a tough enough job getting into Apple because of what he'd done in his previous job at IBM, and now it looks like after all that he's made a bit of a balls up of one of their key products....  I wonder what he'll do next ?

I'm not in any rush to resign - although if it carries on like this much longer I'll be reaching for the pen and paper. In the meantime, it could be worse. I could work for Tiger Oil. WoW!!!

Happy Monday.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

49-11

And so to the final stretch. 49 down to 11...

49Scarface (1983)
Scarface (Widescreen Two-Disc Anniversary Edition)Al Pacino doing his very worst. Evil man. "You wanna waste my time? Okay. I call my lawyer. He's the best lawyer in Miami. He's such a good lawyer, that by tomorrow morning, you gonna be working in Alaska. So dress warm." and "Say hello to my little friend."


48Star Trek (2010)
Star Trek (Three-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]Re-ignited the franchise with this one. A great piece of work. Even the most die hard trekky fans loved it too. Sky High Sci Fi at it's best.


47The Thing (1982)
The Thing [Blu-ray]One of the scariest movies I ever watched. One or two moments that are glued to the "terror" part of my brain. Specifically, that head with legs. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. A remake that was worth remaking - Kudos to John Carpenter.


46V for Vendetta (2005)
V for Vendetta [Blu-ray]An alternative reality to the political landscape of the United Kingdom. Fascinating stuff with some excellent performances. "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."


45Bladerunner (1982)
Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]Ridley Scott's chocolate box full of Androids. Do they dream of Electric Sheep ?. It's just a test... designed to provoke an emotional response. Deep Sci Fi nonsense that works on so many levels.


44Fargo (1996)
Fargo [Blu-ray]A car salesman in need of money. A wealthy father-in-law who doesn't like him. Some bumbling kidnappers and pregnant cop "Frances McDormand" being directed by the Coen Brothers. It doesn't get a lot better than this. "Oh, for Chris'sake here. The heck do ya mean!?" - Poor Jerry.


43No Country For Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men [Blu-ray]More Coen brothers work here. The intricacy is what keeps them interesting I think. Great work and wonderfully self-annotated by Tommy Lee Jones. What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?


42The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense [Blu-ray]Sadly this was M. Night Shyamalan's only decent movie so far. The studio's keep coming back for more though, so maybe there's another winner in there somewhere. This one however hits all the right buttons and has the twist to end all twists. Terrible to think he's gone ot to make the "Last Airbender" - Oh My God!....


41There Will Be Blood (2007)
There Will Be Blood [Blu-ray]The soundtrack.  I mean, where the hell did they dream up this soundtrack. It's intense. Great piece of work, wonderful visuals and Daniel Day-Lewis on excellent form as the man with the plan for oil.


402001: A Space Oddesy (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey [Blu-ray]In 1968 this represented the way things would be in 2001.  Well, was a bit wide of the mark, but still, a really enjoyable piece of Sci Fi with that Stanley Kubrick intensity running through it. Weird and Wonderful stuff. Oh yes and HAL. H+1=I, A+1=B, L+1=M... IBM. Cool.


39Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]A convoluted plot that keeps you coming back for more over and over again. And then there's that really odd thing of the kid pointing at his pee-pee in the last scene of the final movie. (watch it for yourself - the kid stood on Doc Browns footplate - freaky stuff) Still three great all round entertaining movies.


38Die Hard (1 to 4) (1988)
Die Hard [Blu-ray]Yipee-Kai-Ai. No one does action quite like this. All four are instant classics. Bruce Willis saves the day consistently.


37The Great Escape (1963)
The Great Escape (2-Disc Collector's Set)Christmas isn't Christmas without this movie. "Good Luck", "Thankyou" - D'oh...  I mean't "Danke"


36Up (2009)
Up (Single Disc Widescreen)Pixar excel with this original story and superb character definition. There's something about the way -squirrel!!!- that doug the dog is that means he pretty much steals the show. A desperately sad beginning with a heart warming end. beautiful.


35Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy GrailSurreal beyond belief. Where death awaits ye with big pointy teeth. Genius.


34Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary) [Blu-ray]A new breed of ultra-violence in the 90's headed up by Quentin Tarrantino. Incredible script, shocking scenes make for an all time classic. Not for the family, or the squeamish.


33The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre [Blu-ray]Yearning back for the old days of cinema ? I'd recommend an afternoon with this classic. You won't need a badge, but you might get paranoid about your gold. Quality Bogart.


32Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saving Private Ryan (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]More Spielberging. This time a war story. His work on the opening 15 minutes of this film brought the storming of the beaches in WWII vividly to life. Veteran's claim it's the closest thing to the real thing. Amazing.


31The Shining (1980)
The Shining [Blu-ray]Stephen King & Stanley Kubrick now how to scare me properly. Add a shout Jack Nicholson and I almost can't watch it alone in the dark. Please kid, don't ride your trike in there alone.... I can't stand the suspense. Terrifying. I love it.


30Citizen Kane (1941)
Citizen KaneWest coast American newspaper magnet goes banana's and build a castle full of treasure in California in the 1930's. Allegedly not based on William Randolph Hearst, it's pretty much a dramatised biopic. Rosebud.


29North By Northwest (1959)
North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Book)Hitchcock's turn. A great chase movie. New York in the 50's looks incredible. Still stands up to some of the biggest chase movies of all time.


28Se7en (1995)
Seven [Blu-ray]Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play cops. Evil, sadistic killer needs catching. Has a twist from hell in the end. Classic stuff.


27Star Wars (1,2 & 3) (1999)
Star Wars Prequel TrilogyThese three were bolt-on's to the original three and pretty good they are too. The third one is clearly the best of them, but you sometimes get the feeling there's an awful lot of loose ends being tied up in a hurry. You can still feel the force though.


26The Matrix (1999)
The Ultimate Matrix Collection [Blu-ray]WoW! What an amazing idea! What great photography.  What the hell did the camera just do there??  Bullet-Time!? OMG!  No wonder it's so high up the list.


25The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs [Blu-ray]More terror and Sir Anthony Hopkins bringing a literary figure to life so vividly that you could almost believe he's real. Carful Clarice.


24Casablanca (1942)
Casablanca [Blu-ray]The classic love story. Set against the backdrop of Rick's Bar in North Africa just before the war. "We'll always have Paris." And "You played it for her, now play it for me." But no sign of "Play it again Sam".


23Goodfellas (1990)
GoodFellas [Blu-ray]Da Mobsters incarnate. The faster/shorter version of the Godfather with a bit more violence.


22Indiana Jones (1,2,3 & 4) (1981)
The Adventures of Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark/ Temple of Doom/ Last Crusade) - Widescreen EditionAction & Adventure for all the family. Courtesy of the Jones' and a dog named Indiana. Cracking stuff that you can just watch over and over and never get bored of. "Why did it have to be snakes?"


21Psycho (1960)
Psycho (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]Alfred Hitchcock's original black and white horror. Still creeps you out today and fills you with dread of shower curtains for the rest of your life. Poor old Mrs Bates.


20Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window (Universal Legacy Series)More Hitchcock - and this time a study out of the rear window of James Stewart's apartment building. Amazing what a photo journalist with a broken leg can see. Unavailable for 30 years until Hitch's daughter sold the rights to Universal in the early 1980's.


19Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club (10th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]What just happened there??  1st rule of Fight Club, is you don't talk about Fight club....  other than to say it is a masterpiece that might put you off using soap for ever.  Ask your single serving friends about it.


18Lord of The Rings (1,2 & 3) (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]Be warned, you won't get the full 24 hours it will take you to watch this back again. But then, why would you want to ? If you've ever read any of the books, this is a good as it gets when it comes to adaptations. Also put New Zealand back on the map.


17Star Wars (4,5 & 6) (1977)
Star Wars TrilogyThe original Saga is by far the most entertaining. Not stop Droid & Wookie action with Dark Lords and Stormtroopers all over the shop. "These aren't the droids we're looking for" though. Sci Fi perfection.


16Toy Story (1 & 2) (1995)
Toy Story 1 & 2 Blu Ray Combo PackPixar's 3rd entry in my list and rightly so. This one one of the very first fully digitally animated feature films and it works on every level. Disney should be very proud of Pixar's achievement. A full on family entertainment spectacular.


15Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction (Import) [Blu-ray]More Tarantino violence here. Although to be fair, it's more script than violence this time. A classic piece of mis-direction and re-ordering of timelines gives us a movie you'll be glued to throughout.  How is that going to work out ?


14Schindler's List (1993)
Schindler's List (Widescreen Edition)Serious, Dark and moving. Spielberg artfully tells the story of part of the holocaust from a Jewish perspective. Far from lighthearted, but can restore your faith in human kind.


13The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration Giftset (The Godfather / The Godfather Part II / The Godfather Part III) [Blu-ray]The ultimate Gangster movie(s). Nothing else to say.


12The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (Blu-ray Book)With a shortened title and a longer story, messing with the original Stephen King work could have been considered very dangerous, but have no fear. What was "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" became cinema gold in the hands of Frank Darabont. If you only ever watch one movie in your life - it should probably be this one. It's not my number one, but it does doe everything you want from a movie.


11Inception (2010)
Inception: The Shooting ScriptI promise this will mess with your head. I left the cinema in a state of shock, unable to fully grasp the depth of the story until later on. Pure brilliance from the man that gave us the Dark Knight.



So after all that lot...as a reminder - here's the top 10... I'm considering moving 11 further up into the top 10.....  possibly to the detriment of number 9.  Ho hum....

10.
The Dark Knight (2008)
9.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) and The Terminator (1984)
8.
Leon (The Professional) (1994)
7.
Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)
6.
Close Encounters of the Third kind (1977)
5.
The Dam Busters (1955)
4.
All the Presidents Men (1976)
3.
Jaws (1975)
2.
The Ladykillers (1955)
1.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
 

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