Chapter 125 – the rant

3 07 2009

Woah, it’s a while since I’ve posted one of these.  But then, if you’re reading this, you probably noticed.  I can’t apologise enough for that.  Sorry.

Leaver’s Day, Revenge of the Fallen, and a meme from a muse

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little odd.  I’ve isolated myself, both online and offline.  But, this is neither the time nor the place for me to angst, especially when I’ve very little to angst about.  Besides, this is only my third post in a while, so I probably shouldn’t push my luck by trying everyone’s patience.

I meant to post this chapter yesterday, but what with one thing and another, I’m afraid I failed to find the time.  You see, yesterday was leaver’s day at school, which meant we all had to go in, sit around feeling boiling, bored and depressed, eat lunch, listen to a short assembly, and go home again.  They mispelled my name in the yearbook, but that’s OK, because I didn’t order one.  I did order a commemorative hoodie, but apparently I didn’t pay for it, so they’re going to hold onto it until I do so.

After that, I went home, made dinner, and then went off to the cinema.  I’d gotten a text that morning from a few friends who were back from uni, who were going to see the new Transformers movie.  Unfortunately, one guy was late, so we changed times to a later showing.  He didn’t show up, so I volunteered to wait outside with his ticket while the others found seats.  Fifteen minutes into the film, he still hadn’t arrived, so I gave up and went in, and was informed that I’d “missed loads of explosions already”.

I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the movie very much.  I’d hesitate to say I enjoyed it less than Twilight, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy that, and I think it was possibly the better movie (please don’t hurt me!).  It probably didn’t help that I haven’t seen the original, so I didn’t know the characters, but I arrived in time to see bland Optimus Prime deliver a boring speech, and see Sam, his parents and his goofy roommate get up to moronic hijinks at college (note to Michael Bay, if by some minute chance you ever read this – people on pot do not act like that).

When we did get an action scene, involving a Decepticon named (spoiler) Alice, it was an enjoyable spectacle, and the later ones were even better.  I particularly liked the fight scene in which Optimus Prime dual-wielded a couple of glowy sword things.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to form any attachment to the characters or take an interest in the plot, because the characters are so ridiculous.  When stuff isn’t blowing up on screen, we’re subjected to rather boring comedy, usually involving some combination of slapstick, innuendo and testicles.  Particularly crass are a couple of Autobots named Skid and Mudflap, two annoying ethnic stereotypes who make Jar-Jar Binks seem positively endearing by comparison.

Still, if you cut out those Autobot twins, with their ghetto slang, their illiteracy and their failure to do anything useful in terms of moving the story forward, and if you cut out the “hilarious” comedy scenes involving tasers and pot brownies, it could have been an enjoyable action flick.  As it was, it was far too long.  I did phone home beforehand to let my parents know it was a long movie, but the phone was engaged and they didn’t check their messages, so when I emerged from the cinema at midnight, it was to discover a concerned text message, which seemed to assume I’d been out drinking.

If I hadn’t forgotten about my email account lately, I’d have discovered that Museditions emailed me a while back with a meme to complete.  So, very belatedly, here it is:

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

“My hair looks terrible!”

2. How much cash do you have in your wallet right now?

£1.50.  That’s not all the money I have in the world, but you see why I’m getting slightly desperate on the job hunting thing.

3. Do you label yourself?

Yes, although I’m not sure it’s a good idea, especially since I think I’m neither sufficiently normal to be mainstream, nor suffiently computer literate or aware of anime and video games to be a proper nerd.

4. What does your watch look like?

Small, black, electronic.  It’s very cheap.  I do own a better one, but I’m scared of scratching it, so I don’t wear it!  Plus it’s in analogue time, which always takes me a moment to read, since I’m so used to my digital watch.

5. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Just leaving the cinema having seen Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

6. What’s a word that you say a lot?

“Actually”.  I say it all the time offline.  I correct myself, I correct other people, I use it for emphasis or even just as filler.  I really ought to stop using that word!

7. Who told you he/she loved you last?

A really creepy old guy I met down the pub the other day, disturbingly enough.  He told me that repeatedly.  I made an excuse and ran away at the first opportunity.

8. Last furry thing you touched?

No idea.  Probably the neighbour’s dog.

9. What was the last thing you said to someone?

“Goodnight, dad.”

10. The last song you listened to?

“The Masses against the Classes”, by Manic Street Preachers.

11. Where did you live five years ago?
 

Same place I live now.

12. Are you jealous of anyone?

People who are totally content with who they are, I suppose.

13. Is anyone jealous of you?

Hah!  Not that I know of.

14. Name three things that you have on you at all times?

My watch, and – that’s about it.  I don’t keep anything on my person at all times.  I have a tendancy to go out of the house with nothing but the clothes I’m wearing, forgetting my keys, phone, ID…

15. What’s your favourite town/city?

I don’t know.  I’m not a city person.  Probably Cheltenham, although I wouldn’t want to live there (also, it’s kinda snobby).

16. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

Probably January, sending relatives “thank you” letters.

17. Can you change the oil on a car?

Nope.

18. What is your current desktop picture?

Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist.  It used to be the TARDIS until quite recently when I decided it was time for a change.

19. When did you start your blog?

March 2007, as part of a school project.  Hence the title.

20. What country would you like to live in other than your own?

I’d rather stay here, but since that’s not allowed, somewhere in Europe.  I wouldn’t mind anywhere in the British Isles, or France, Spain, Germany, Italy, or anywhere in Scandinavia.  That last sentence has gone off the page, so I hope I didn’t just break WordPress.

Thank you for that, Muse.  I enjoyed that. 🙂  I hope you enjoyed it too.

So… back!

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TV switchover (Summary 1)

28 02 2008

This is the first of three summaries set as homework by Adam.  I’m going to do my best.

First up is this article, dated 27/02/2008.

MPs warn that there could be £250 million left over from the digital switchover.  The money (£603 million) is funded by the BBC using the licence fee to help over 75 year olds and people on disability allowance with the switchover.  However, they have to play a £40 fee unless they recieve pension credit or income support, which may explain why so many people are declining the offers of help.

According to a report by the National Audit Office, almost a third of the population don’t realise that they will need digital equipment to watch TV in 2012.  Nearly half the population are still buying analogue TVs, and nearly 60% don’t realise that they won’t be able to record one channel on a video or DVD recorder whilst watching another.  Ethnic minorities and non-English speakers have particularly low awareness of the switchover.  Despite all this the report’s tone was mainly positive.

Of course, it was unlikely to have been positive enough to be any comfort to the hundreds of BBC employees that got sacked following the government’s reduction of the licence fee.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that the decision of what to do with the remaining money will be made towards the end of the switchover, but Lib Dem Culture, Media and Sport spokesman Don Foster wants them to “either invest the leftover money back into public sector broadcasting or return it to the licence fee payer”.  Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt worried about all that still needed doing, and basically demanded that the government get their act together.

 Apart from that, everything’s going as planned.  The digital switchover will be ready in 2012.





Africa needs Internet

20 12 2007

As reported by the BBC, Dr. Nii Quaynor, professor of computer science at the University of Cape-Coast in Ghana, has said that, as well as resources like food and water, Africa needs affordable computing if it is to develop.  Said Mr. Quaynor, “Affordable computing is necessary. What is going to power development in Africa is going to be lower-cost user interfaces.”

One possible solution to this is the XO laptop, which the One Laptop Per Child project aims to give to millions of schoolchildren in the developing world.  The laptops are cheap, sturdy, require little power and come with waterproof, dustproof cases.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.  However, I’m hopeful that, one day, everyone will be able to access the Internet (isn’t that the point in it?).  This would have felt like a daft statement a couple of years back, but now I honestly do think that the Internet will become a vital tool in ending world poverty and inequality.  After all, look how much business revolves around the Internet as it is.





Internet stats (proper)

5 06 2007

Sorry about the last post.  So, these stats.  Basically, comScore have revealed that the average European accesses the net 16.5 days in a month, and spends 24 hours viewing 2,662 web pages.  The country with the “highest net penetration” is Norway, with 83% of the population online, whilst the country with the lowest is Russia (11% online).  Germany have the largest online population at 32.5m 15 year olds and above, whilst the UK has the most active Internet users with 21m people online everyday.

However, the managing director of comScore Europe, Bob Ivins, says that given convergence people watch TV online as well, so it’s tricky to give accurate statistics.  He also indicates the way UK Internet usage increased after the introduction of Broadband.





Timeshifting

30 05 2007

The latest feature on the BBC technology news is a look at how PVRs are changing viewing habits (PVRs being the things that let you view shows whenever you want, instead of watching them broadcast “live”, e.g. Sky+).  This confirms many of our suspicions from class.  For example, that advertisers are “not interested in paying for adverts that were fast-forwarded through”, which seems understandable.  Also, TV stations are anxious to claim credit for their shows (which probably means more of those irritating BBC Three logos in the corner of the screen), even when “timeshifted” (watched at a later time).

BSkyB are eager to promote PVRs – “the iPod of TV”, apparently – and are dropping the £10 monthly subscription fee, which can only be good news for PVR fans.

The page also contains some interesting figures – the most timeshifted shows are dramas, like Skins, while the least timeshifted are news and sports broadcasts.  Perhaps the change in viewing habits isn’t as dramatic as is sometimes made out, because 98% of viewing is still live broadcast.  Also, 40% of Sky+ users still sit through ads breaks, which is surely comforting for advertisers, though puzzling for sane folks like me!  o_0;

Even if you’re not interested in reading about PVRs, click the link for a nice, decorative image of Freema Agyeman/David Tennant, whichever you prefer…  Not quite sure what they’re doing there, but whatever.





The “future of TV”

16 05 2007

The BBC have a page on the future of television.  It has info on digital TV (including a rather pro-digital take on the analogue switchoff), HDTV, PVRs, TV on demand, and watching TV using computers and ‘phones.

Very nice.





Internet television “rubbish,” say new media family

16 05 2007

A family from Gloucestershire (hurray!) were given all the new media equipment they needed to watch Internet TV.  They had to watch an online news bulletin, download a movie, use Joost and Jalipo (online TV services), and download an episode of their favourite show.   The verdict?  “It’s rubbish,” said Dean Boston after discovering the programmes available on Joost (plenty of old episodes of The Man from UNCLE and no episodes of 24).  Suzanne Boston was similarly unimpressed by Jalipo.  The news bulletin wasn’t difficult to download, although the movie was expensive and not very good.

The only task they actually failed to complete was downloading an episode of a favourite show.  They found two sites that offered Ugly Betty, iTunes and 4OD, but the former was only available to Americans (sounds a bit racist!  Like, we sent our army to help them fight in Iraq and they won’t even let us watch their TV shows o_~) and the latter wasn’t compatible with Windows Vista (grr… Micro$oft..!).

Despite the general suckiness of their new media experience, the family still missed all the technology when the BBC took all the new media stuff back.  Some people are never happy!