Sunday, August 06, 2006

Return of the Mac

After some 20+ years, I am finally the owner of an Apple Mac.
Years ago, whilst (for some reason I can't remember now) I saw my first Apple computer - I think it was the Lisa - at one of the London Rail terminals (possibly Waterloo, though I don't know what I was doing there) I liked it, but there was no way I was ever going to be able to afford one.
I gradually progressedthrough various home computers (the Sinclair ZX-81, the Spectrum, the Atari 520 STFM) and eventually moved into the WinTel environment, in which I have been resolutely lodged ever since (despite the occasional detour due to the acquisition of some other piece of kit - for example, an old Apple //e that my then employer was throwing away - I gave it a home and played with it for a good while and it's still in the old study and, as far as I know, working!)
Well, recently, I've been building 'new' computers out of discarded PC's donated by friends and family, using additional parts from eBay, and was perfectly happy to continue in this vein when, out of the blue, a friend asked if I'd like an Apple Mac G4? What harm can it do to accept, I thought, and accepted.
I've had it for a little over a month now, and it's fun! I still have to get used to the different way it does things, and my PC's are still the main machines I use for emails and web surfing etc., but I can see the Mac taking over for Skype (there is a beta of Skype Video for Mac out at the moment, and I've added an iSight camera to the collection of computer bits cluttering the spare bedroom that now serves as my study!) and for servicing my iPod, amongst other things.
This leopard isn't changing his spots - at least, not ALL of them...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fundamentally Sound

Amongst other things, I'm a Pet Shop boys fan; I've ben to several of their concerts, have all the albums (well, not the Further Listening 2 CD sets, I'll admit!) and most, if not all, the singles (including the Fan Club exclusive!)
So, although I had high hopes for the new album, "Fundamental" when it came out a month ago, I was concerned lest it turn out to be another "Release" which, to be brutally honest, left me lukewarm.
I had nothing to fear. "I'm With Stupid" the excellent first single is representative of a return to the sound most PSB fans love them for - electronics, multi-layered backing and touching, ascerbic and typically PSB style lyrics!
Personal stand outs are "Integral", the aforementioned "I'm With Stupid" and "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show" which not only show the band in their best light, they also show the hand of Trevor Horn, who produced the album.
This is not going to be a detailed, track-by-track review - you can get that elsewhere. All I'm going to say is - if you like PSB, you'll love this album; if you don't already like them, this might be the CD you've waited years to hear*.
(the link above goes to who, at time of posting, are doing the 2 disc version - complete with guest vocalist Sir Elton John :) - for £8.99)

* apologies for the dismal paraphrase of a PSB single...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

That reminds me...

I was chatting in work yesterday about Matchbox toy cars and I suddenly remembered that I hadn't seen my favourite, an Orange Ford Capri with a black movable bonnet, for some time. I more or less assumed it was lost, though I do still have most of my toy cars in an old Jacobs biscuit tin - (and let's not get started on my reminiscences about Granny Grumps sending a tin over from Ireland for Christmas!)
When I got home, I decided to dig out the tin, which was in my study under the Ikea bookshelves, to see what I DID stil have - and after a bit of rummaging I found the Capri! It's battered, with bare metal in places where the paint scraped off during play, but still in a reasonable condition! I don't know what it was, but when I was a child, the Ford Capri was my favourite car of all - yes, I liked the supercars and sports cars but the Capri was the one I liked the most; I was ever so excited when, age 6, I got to ride in one (my first and only trip - to date!)
Anyway, in case anyone reads this and is interested, here it is:

(Picture taken on an Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom)

Monday, March 06, 2006

That was the WHAT?!?!?!

Oh dear.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Channel 4 broadcast the last episode of "(Star Trek) Enterprise" yesterday and I have to ask - 'What was the point of THAT?'
Basically, the plot boils down to this: Riker has a problem and used some video recordings of Enterprise to help him make the decision we know he was going to make anyway (because, being trekkers, we all saw that TNG episode already)
They didn't even show Archer's speech at the end! They built up to it, but they didn't give Scott Bakula the chance to exit with a dignified speech?
OK, so it was fun to see Troi and Riker in 'Classic TNG' uniforms (though Marina Sirtis seemed to have problems remembering what accent she should be using), but using them as the hook for the plot was disrespectful to the rest of the cast who, regardless of what you might think of the show as a whole (I dropped out in season two to be brutally honest, though what I saw of season four suggested that things were improving into a show I might have watched more regularly) deserved a proper close.

Paramount, it has to be said, lost my respect some time ago as far as their milking of the Trek cash cow was concerned - and on the evidence of this episode, they won't be getting it back any time soon (not that that matter to them!)

Friday, February 17, 2006

G'Kar G'one.

RIP Andreas Katsulas, who died this week aged 59. A sad loss for all Babylon 5 fans (and for fans of Trek too - he appeared in a number of TNG episodes as the Romulan Tomolok)
I saw him once at a B5 convention in London and he was both thoughtful and amusing.

The blurry image on the left is the trading card he signed for a set of TNG trading cards.


So I now have a Digital Camera - an Olympus C-700 Untra Zoom.
It's only 2.1 Megapixel, but it has a 10x Optical Zoom and plenty of features so it's perfect for the sort of photography I usually do - snapping!
So, in theory, I could start posting pictures from my day to day stuff - but as they will almost certainly be less interestign than the posts I make now I don't think I'll bother...

...unless something REALLY interesting happens!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How to build up your DVD collection on a budget...

If you live in the UK, the answer is simple - buy the weekend newspapers.
For the last few years, the National press in the UK has been offering (and competing with other papers in the scale of what they are offering) various 'free gifts' ranging from CD's of unsigned music acts and PC Game demos through to double CD sets of 'classic' music by big name stars to full length DVD's of older films.
Some in the media thought that this trend would die down, especially as Rupert Murdoch, the head of News International (which owns The Times, The Sun and The News of The World - all of which have issued more than their fair share of CD's and DVD's in the last few years!)announced that he didn't like the giveaways - an item in The Independent last weekend (which itself gave away two 'Arthouse' film DVD's) noted that the average cost to the newspaper per DVD was 30p - a lot, given the cover price of the papers range from 40p to £1.60, and especially considering that the freebies don't encourage a lot of brand loyalty - many people (including me) just buy the paper that has the freebie they want, and don't bother whn there is no freebie.
However, in just the first three wees of 2006, there have been 7 Movie DVD's, 4 'Classic TV Show' DVD's and a couple of audio CD's (and that is not including the discs where one has to redeem a coupon from a weekday newspaper - there are two offers of this sort running at the moment that I am aware of!) with more to come next weekend (The new, Berliner sized Observer is offering "Dune" on Sunday, and the aforementioned News of The World is apparently going to have "Highlander" on the same day - two cult favourite SF themed movies competing against each other!)
I set up, just for something to do, a webpage 'gallery' of the DVD's I had received - so far, I've only put up the Film DVD's I've found in newspapers, though I plan to add sections for TV Show discs and music CD's. I didn't think I'd be updating it very often - but it looks like it's going to be a weekly revision from now on!
(there is a link to the page in the subject of this entry!)
Au Res.,

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year and Springtime...

A Very Happy New Year to anyone who is actually reading this blog (I exclude those twits who spam the comments area!)
Hope everyone had a great Christmas/Hanukah/whatever. I had a quiet time - stayed with family, opened presents etc. Saw "The Producers" at the local cinema, and so more or less finished the year as I started it (I went to the West End stage show version on New Years Day last year!) I can recommend it, though fans of the original classic (mostly) non-musical film will have to put their memories of that to one side - this, although sharing much of the same plot and sets, is a different film and should be watched as such.
I enjoyed it, though it IS a little stagy (can't really be helped in a flim based on a stage show about stage shows!) and there are some first rate performances from the cast. A little tip - if you go to see it, wait until the very end of the credits (which feature two musical numbers not in the film and a very silly 'version' of one of the songs that IS in there!) for a fun little bit.
Au Res.,