I wonder how much more I will recall of the turn of the century than I will of my years at the end of the last simply because of this site?

Last week (or was it this week, time flies you see) Tom wrote about: Supernova ’05: “Apps. for a Mobile, Connected World” in which he noted Mena – of Six Apart fame – talking about memories,

Mena really brought memories to the fore. She stated that she wished she had a record of everything that had happened in the first twenty-seven yearas of her life like she has since she first started weblogging (source)

Occasionally I realise that this site has a similar effect on me. I wonder how much more I will recall of the turn of the century than I will of my years at the end of the last simply because of this site? The On This Day link for 26 June sent me back to watching the Olympic Torch crossed south London on its way to Athens. I’d totally forgotten that. What’s more, I didn’t Flickr the pictures so I have seen them for a long time; I’m not too sure where I filed them. Fickr needs an On This Day app so you can see pictures to took on this day in history. It would really help the memory!

And while I am on the subject of Flickr, does anybody else find it annoying that the default sort and ordering is by upload date rather than taken? You often upload when you get back from a trip, like I did last Monday for Zaragoza. All the picture carried the right time stamps but they were uploaded in a sightly different order so I had to play with them to get them displayed correctly. Am I missing something?

Time To Sleep

My body’s capacity to survive on three or four hours of sleep a night never fails to astound me.

I am back from my weekend in Spain. My body’s capacity to survive on three or four hours of sleep a night never fails to astound me. My body’s capacity to flake out at that point and render me incapable of anything for another seven days also amazes me. So I should start sleeping now …

Somewhere, Someday, Somebody, Somehow

Writing with a pen and paper at 37,000 feet instead of on the array of digital gadgetry that surrounds me is quite liberating.

By the wonders of modern man I am writing these words on board a plane – BA794 to Helsinki for all you plane spotters – using a pen and a page in my work diary (the pen is PaperMate and the page is for the 4th April and, yes, I know it’s not 4th). I will, I imagine, be transcribing it later this evening in a hotel in Helsinki.

Amusingly, here at 37,00 feet on an Airbus A320, I have an array of digital equipment sat under the seat in front of me. A laptop: too big to open and anyway the battery is nearly dead as I used it with a wifi hotspot in the terminal. My ‘phone/PDA: it really doesn’t look good opening a ‘phone on a plane as there’s a tendency for other passengers to think you’re switching it on. Besides, the built-in keyboard is useless for this kind of lengthy writing. I also have my MP3 player and a camera but neither of them are much use for writing on. So I sit, with a trusty old pen, scribbling something I will later type. I assume, if you’re reading this, that I have actually typed it up.

I also have a small jungle of cables with me. Chargers and connectors to allow all the various devices to communicate. In fact, I think they are taking a disproportionate amount of luggage space. Everything has to be charged: the ‘phone, the mp3 and the camera. Nothing seems to work on a trusty pair of AAs anymore. I am not sure why this is but it’s as frustrating as hell.

So, I have to ask myself why I bother with all this gadgetry? Is any of it going to make my life any easier? Sadly, I don’t think it will and – to be honest – it’s not much fun anymore. I just want items that make travelling easier and I don’t have the money for a private jet. Has anybody solved this conundrum?

I do have a love of this kind of technology: I know that I am one of the people who believe it has the power to liberate but, frankly, right now all the competing vendors are not getting it correct and I am not sure why. Somewhere, someday, somebody will get it right. I only hope that I have a hand in it – somehow.

Jack: Straight From The Gut

If you don’t like Jack Welch’s approach I believe there are interesting lessons about the capabilities of people and what they can bring to business for anybody regardless of the size of company or position you hold within it.

Jack Welch was Chairman and CEO of General Electric for twenty years and this is a book about his time from joining to leaving the company that became his life. Apparently Jack was seen as the ‘toughest boss in America’ and I suspect the book is trying to soften the historical edges a little. What comes across clearly is a commitment to a company and a desire to grow it. Many businesses could do better with a firmer management and a realistic look at the way things are done. Jack Welch doesn’t seem to be the kind of CEO to run scared of the change no matter how painful that be. Throughout the book he stresses the importance that good people be allowed to excel and that poor performers are probably better elsewhere. It seems a ruthless approach but it appears to have worked for GE and, I think Jack would argue, it worked better for the people involved. Don’t expect a management handbook as ‘Straight From The Gut’ is too human (and full of golf stories) to be seen as a Director’s guide but it is an extremely readable insight into big business. If you don’t like his approach I believe there are interesting lessons about the capabilities of people and what they can bring to business for anybody regardless of the size of company or position you hold within it.

Vacillation’s What We Need

I think too much about some things, especially, about useful pds gadgets which aren’t important.

If you hadn’t worked out that I like my pda gadgets by now where have you been? I suggest you take a crash course: Phones & PDAs, Another PDA, Personal Information Management and Why Do We Love Our Mobile Phones?

So I decided that my Treo 600 was a pain. I mentioned before that it’s OK at many things but it isn’t great at any of them. As a regular Palm it’s good but as a ‘phone it’s just OK (by which I mean poor). As a camera it is very poor. So I started to become obsessed by finding a solution to my problem/desire to get it all in one. Then, because I vacillate so much, I decided that my Treo 600 on Orange is actually pretty good and I want to keep it. A few hours later a whole Nokia fetish kicked in before I decided that, yet again, Treo wins. I don’t like the idea of not having my contact and diary synchronised properly. I thought, for a moment, that WAP could be a solution but it’s not the same. Then I saw the new Palm Tungsten E2 and thought well …

Now, please tell me why I become so engrossed in this subject. Why can’t I, just like a normal person, have a ‘phone that is a ‘phone?

Myths Perpetuated By Queer Eye

Really, they should know better shouldn’t they?

Of all the myths that are perpetuated by Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (and there are many, mainly to do with gay men liking musicals and having miracle cures for bad haircuts) the worst was on an episode I watched this week. Truthfully, it’s a couple of weeks old in the UK (and possibly sooo last season in the US) but still it’s aggravated me for a few days and I feel compelled to set the record straight (if you’ll forgive the pun). Oh, and it has nothing to do with gay men.

And while I am on the subject, pity the poor people of Colchester who – in the episode in question – were called a suburb of London. That’s like saying Dallas is a suburb of New York. Which it isn’t. Clearly. I know jet lag can be a problem for some people flying East but really, Fab Five, buy an A-to-Z (and that’s Zed not Zee).

Anyway, here we go.

Nobody in Britain eats cucumber sandwiches.

There, I’ve said it. Nobody in Britain eats cucumber sandwiches. And those that may be tempted have long since given up cutting the crusts of the them. And if you’re going to use cress don’t use the broad-leaf stuff; the cress of a cucumber sandwich must stick between the gaps in your teeth (which, I must remember, Americans do not have being so found of expensive dental care). But still, if you see cucumber sandwiches on the menu in Britain they are aimed at one market only: visitors with too much money to spend. So, don’t be fooled that you are following in the thousand-year-old habits of a once great Empire. No, you are being hoodwinked. Don’t fall for it.

If you really must have a traditional British sandwich, try Coronation Chicken on brown. It was invented for the Queen’s Coronation and has been popular with the British people ever since.

Honest (actually, ignore my sarcasm because it was invented for the Coronation) but I couldn’t think of another sandwich with which to mock you. If you know of a Sandwich that can be used to mock people let me know.

Birthday Boy

Stephen GatelyStephen, it’s your birthday and all of us – by which I mean me – at Hello CurnsĀ (the blog for Britain – I’m thinking it might be a good slogan) would like to wish you all the best for the coming year. I’m sure it’s been a fun year – that Child catcher costume alone must have made you laugh each day and, perhaps, put memories of that Technicolor dreamcoat behind you. But when, dear boy (and I say that as a term of endearment rather than as some comment on your person) will you be back in the studio recording some pop tunes for us? I was most disheartened that there was no further material after the last album. Truthfully, I was one of those who thought it was great. So, I don’t think you need any brother-of-some-bygone-popstar to be your new front man. No, stick with the solo material. Oh, and don’t drink too much tonight. Happy Birthday. [Stephen Gately was Man of the Moment at some point in the past when we did that stuff]

And in case that’s not enough, Stephen is 29 and today is Thursday, March 17, the 76th day of 2005. There are 289 days left in the year. This is St. Patrick’s Day [source]

Erasure: The Nightbird Tour

From the moment Andy Bell appears on stage with angel wings you know they are back on form.

erasure_show_logo.gifI’ve seen Erasure a couple of times in concert. The last time was the Other People’s Songs tour. While I enjoyed the album I wasn’t so sure about the concert: they seemed to be going through the motions a little more than previous times. So, it was with some interest that I got by tickets to The Nightbird Tour at Hammersmith Odeon (

Andy Bell from ErasureFrom the moment Andy Bell appears on stage with angel wings you know they are back on form. The Nightbird material fits very well into the overall set; the feeling of a ‘show’ is back and the audience was – most definitely – behind Vince and Andy. The first number ‘No Doubt’ leads into ‘Hideaway’ which I don’t recall seeing performed for a very long time and is one of my favourites. But we also got ‘A Little Respect’, ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ and ‘Blue Savannah’ plus a Vince performing ‘Rapture’.

The concerts are recorded so that you can get a copy of the show you went to see. I shall be having one of those for I had a superb time.

Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle

I could have been rich if I’d been as smart as they were!

I wish I had a record of the early web sites I used to visit. You know one of those pages we had in 1995 that was a list of ‘recommended sites’. Of course if I was David Filo or Jerry Yang I would have been out celebrating ten years of my list of favourite sites list or Yahoo as they know it. Yahoo was ten years old yesterday. Yahoo! has always been my favourite search engine and with the advent of the new Yahoo! Firefox toolbar I have a renewed interest in using the site. There’s a rather cool Netrospective (10 years, 100 moments of the Web) but it doesn’t bring my own site list back to life. And to think that I could have maintained that list and been very, very rich right now.

Happy Birthday Yahoo – your childish years are behind you and your teenage years are ahead – that’s when things get difficult. You’ll get moody and spotty and you won’t want anything to do with us oldies but don’t forget you need us!!

There wasn’t too much spam ten years ago, although it was certainly around it wasn’t something that Yahoo would have worried too much about. Two years ago, however, there was considerably more spam. What amuses me looking back at this post from this day 2003 is just how much spam has changed. I get few mails about debt solutions now but I do get a good few offering me all kinds of new drugs to cure all the ills I don’t have.

Ten years or two – the on-line world is moving on so quickly.

Buttons In The Honesty Box

I’ve never met Jason Kottke but he makes me feel like a bad thief. The judge will send me down unless I do something about it.

Jason Kottke
By Zach Klein – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

You will know that Jason Kottke is a superstar blogger – and I don’t mean he wears a Seventies-style Addidas tracksuit (although he might and it would be very retro) [click here if you don’t get the classic British TV reference and go bow at the alter of David Vine].

No, he’s been (Kottke, not Vine) writing a personal web site (in the blog style) since sometime in 1998 which makes him – in web years – very, very old indeed (although he doesn’t look it in the pictures). If you haven’t read his site you should because he’s good at this stuff but now – in a nutshell (and the word nuts may be important) – he’s given up a job to spend his days writing great content for his site in the hope that readers pay him (read his reasoning in more detail) for writing it.

Anyway, to cut a ramble short, I just went to read today’s postings (like this one) and have come away feeling like a dirty thief. I haven’t stumped up the cash so I feel like the kind of person who walks out of WH Smith’s with The Independent under his arm and hasn’t paid (nor dropped a button in the honesty box to look like I am paying). The security guard hasn’t clocked me but my toes are sweating in fear. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be a good shoplifter which is why, mother if you’re reading this, I am not a thief. And, yet feel like one.

Damn, damn, damn .. I have to find a credit cards sans dust.

More Politics

According to the press there will be an anti-discrimination bill protecting religions but not gay people.

Last week I made note of Brian Sedgemore’s comments in the House of Commons when the debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill was in place. I also suggested people may have lost interest in politics. Well, when politics is as blatently vote grabbing at this piece in the Sunday Times reveals, it’s no wonder:

This week a new bill giving Muslims protection against religious discrimination will be published, but there will be no equivalent right for gays, as had been planned by ministers.

[Source: Sunday Times: Discrimination bill snubs gays to save Muslim vote].

I guess I should be angry and I should write to my MP or something but I am resigned to the fact that nothing will happen and it will make no difference. It’s the obviousness of the whole thing that frustrates.

Back London’s Bid For 2012

I think the Olympics would be a great thing for the UK so I am backing London’s bid.

back the bid for londonI signed up to back the London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics because, when all’s done, I think it would be fantastic for London and the UK as a whole. So, right now, I selected The Gerkin is my computer’s desktop image. I thought it was appropriate after having wandered The City earlier in the month to see the fantastic Swiss Re tower.

I put my name to the bid earlier – particularly after watching some of these fantastic videos they’ve put together. I really think these should be given a wider audience they’re superb and they are a little hidden on the site too. Why don’t you sign up?

For The Love Of London

London is a wonderful city as I keep discovering years after arriving here.

sity hall london january 2005I really should start a category on London’s South Bank because I mention it a great deal and it really is one of the most wonderful areas of London. If you’re a visitor to this great city you really must spend an afternoon walking the South Bank: start at Waterloo and the London Eye and head towards Tower Bridge (and beyond). when I first arrived here it was an area that had little to offer; it was dead and quiet but now it’s vibrant and alive.

Over the past few weeks PY and I have explored a little more of London on foot and I really do enjoy the place. On the Monday after New Year we wandered around High Holborn and Farringdon areas, near The Guardian’s central London base. It was a quiet Bank Holiday and yet it was – strangely – alive. We also crossed the bridge to the Tate Gallery which is probably the only gallery space I can truly say I enjoy. The Turbine Hall, which housed The Weather Project, is currently home to Bruce Nauman’s Raw Materials – which is a soundscape of 22 spoken texts. Some are clearly audible and some not so clear but as you walk through the hall you get this most amazing sense of sound. It works better if you keep moving (rather than stopping to listen) but you’d be wise to adjust to the sound first. It wasn’t as much of a communal event as The Weather Project but it was totally unexpected, thrilling and energizing. You can get a taste online at the Tate’s site.

insode london's city hall january 2005Last weekend we went to City Hall (which I have mentioned before) but this time we were able to get inside and head to the top. It’s a building of unexpected contrasts: the building looks wonderful and they have revitalised the whole area but the office space inside looks cramped and uncomfortable. Given the climbing spirals of the building I would have expected the view from the top to be better. Unfortunately, the main viewing area looks the wrong way: great views over the south but you want to see London’s landmarks. It was late in the day when we arrived which meant there were no crowds and we were able to find our house on the satellite pictures on the floor of the basement. Sadly, however, I don’t think the lighting scheme is brilliant at all – they could do so much more with it.

While we were there I rode the snow slide at The Tate (basically a silly slide that you descend almost buried in an inflatable tyre-like object). Silly but cheap and amusing. Then we crossed Tower Bridge (always a stunning experience) to go and have a look at the stunning Swiss Re tower and walk around The City – which is, of course, almost dead on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a rather unnerving contrast to London’s West End which is full of people on a Saturday.

Yesterday, we went to Marble Arch and had a go on the ice rink that has been placed there for the winter. I haven’t been on skates for years and I really liked it – although there’s no chance I could go round the rink without holding onto the side at some point. PY was not quite so in love with the experience which is a great shame and I am going to have to find ways to convince him to come again. I’ll work on it.

Once again I can honestly say I love London.

Garden State

Certainly not the best film ever but it was a promising work for Braff and I’ll be looking our for more.

Film poster for Garden StateI had heard and read almost nothing about Garden State until I saw it tonight. It’s written and stars Zach Braff who is, apparently, a big hit in Scrubs (but I don’t watch it) and was in one of my favorite movies, The Broken Hearts Club (but I’d forgotten him).

The background to the plot is that Andrew Largeman (Braff) is a twenty-something actor from New Jersey who now lives in Los Angeles (which supposedly mirrors Braff’s own life). Largeman returns home for his mother’s funeral after not having been back for a decade. He has almost no relationship with his father, a bunch of slacker friends and a lot of history.

So. it’s another middle class slacker movieĀ but it’s quite well done. It’s got elements of humour (both in dialogue and the visuals) and is well shot. Despite the slow pace of some of the film, I found myself remarkably engaged. Usually I that find films where nothing happens are hard work regardless of the abilities of the actors and directors. It simply wasn’t the case here: the opening scences of Largeman motionless in an all white bedroom listening to his father’s messgae grabbed me and I was hooked.

There are two aspects of this film that I think stand out. The first is the soundtrack. I feel a good soundtrack is usually unobtrusive and you tend not to notice it. This is one film where you have an exception to that rule. I noticed how great the soundtrack was but it didn’t take anything away from the experiennce. The imdb entry for ths film notes, “When Braff sent the script to people, he would also send them a copy of the songs which would eventually be the soundtrack (which he handpicked). That is why on the actual soundtrack album, all of the songs are in the order that they appear in the movie” [source].

The other aspect I really liked about this film is the way the depths of the Largeman character are only revealled gradually as we go through the film. Obviosuly, it’s a very common trick of any story but – sometimes – movies reveal too much too soon in a bid to hook the audience. In Garden State, that’s not the case and it works beautifully.

Certainly not the best film ever but it was a promising work for Braff and I’ll be looking our for more, particularly, if he continues blogging about his work.

Polar Express

An all new Christmas classic movie and all the better for being seen in a IMAX 3D cinema.

One of the films I had been really interested in seeing this Christmas was Robert Zemeckis’ Polar Express, which has been selling out in all it’s 3D glory at the BFI London IMAX. So, tonight, we got tickets for the last screening (although I imagine this will be back quite a lot). It’s a shame that we didn’t make it before Christmas when London was lit up with Christmas sparkle as that would have added to the magic.

Some reviewers of the film have criticised this film for being dark or scary but I didn’t see it. It’s basically the story of the boy who is doubting Santa Claus and is taken on a magical ride to the North Pole to find Christmas. And it’s filled with that wonder and magic that can only be found in really good Children’s films. Sure, the movie makers have used the 3D format to full-effect (the roller-coaster scenes are overdone in many IMAX presentations) but it shouldn’t detract from the wonder of this tale. Tom Hanks is great as the primary voice of the film which just added to the joy.

While the animation may not quite be on a par with The Incredibles it remains pretty stunning and, unlike The Incredibles, I see this film enduring. It’s a fantastic film.