Tue, 18 Oct 2005
At very short notice I had to fly out to Miami again for work. For a change I flew Virgin and was lucky
to get upgraded to their Upper Class
This is similar to the BA business class that I have also experienced. Both have similar levels of service
and quality of food, but the Virgin planes seem to be better equipped. The seat was very comfortable, but I didn't try
the full bed option. It has a huge table and a great entertainment system. You have access to about 30 films
and lots of TV shows as well as their radio shows and a choice of CDs. Unlike most systems you have full control
so you can watch when you like and pause as necessary. I think there's a few aspects of how the menus work
that could be better, but overall I was impressed. As I was stuck there for over 8 hours I watched the
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 3/5
I've heard the radio show, read the books, played the games etc so I know the plot pretty well. This version
diverges a bit from the others, but it's all supposed to be Douglas Adams' vision. Some scenes were identical
to the old ones, but there were significant changes and additions. Martin Freeman was a more assertive
Arthur and Mos Def a more panicky Ford. The others were pretty much as before. Obviously the effects are better
this time, but I don't know if they need to be that fancy. It was fun, but I was slightly disappointed. Maybe
I just have it too fixed in my mind how it should be.
Details on IMDB and you can buy it at
or get the
old TV version
Sin City 4/5
I knew this was based on a series of comic books, but I've not read them. It really captures the look and feel
of a comic. It's mostly black and white with accents of colour and beautifully put together. It's basically
three interlinked film noir type stories about different men fighting injustice in brutal ways. It really is
very violent, but not in a totally realistic way. Some characters seem almost indestructable, especially
Mickey Rourke's big hunk of muscle. On the whole the men are tough and the women are gorgeous, but also
get to fight back. I was impressed.
Details on IMDB and DVD on
This is a mix of violent British gangster film, martial arts extravaganza and touching human drama.
Danny, Jet Li, is an incredible fighter who is treated like an attack dog by debt collector Bob Hoskins.
Danny is taken in by blind piano tuner Morgan Freeman who teaches him to be human. As you would expect,
his past catches up with him and there is the inevitable big fight at the end. Although I watch a fair
few violent films I get sickened by those who appear to enjoy inflicting pain on others. There is a
lot of that in this film, but this is balanced by the good people. Jet Li is very good at fighting, if
not a great actor. He has plenty of the former to keep him busy. Part of one fight takes place in the
'smallest room' of a Glasgow flat. The film was written by Luc Besson whose films I generally enjoy.
This is not his best, but good for it's genre in my limited experience.
Details on IMDB. The
will be out in time for Xmas.
Buying through the Amazon links will benefit my daughter's school. Alternative suppliers can be found
Fri, 14 Oct 2005
Many years ago when I opened my Yahoo
email account I
wanted something short as a name that didn't have numbers, e.g. steve19976, so I ended up
with steevc. steev
was already taken and seems to be
widely used these days. I've since used that namein lots of places so that now a
Google on steevc
returns just about all stuff relating
to me on the first five pages. I admit I'm a sucker for registering on various services.
So you can easily find me at:
There's a load of other uses on various forums. As well as Yahoo mail you can reach me on that name
at Gmail and on the Jabber
messaging network. One day I would like to run my own Jabber server so that I can use my normal
email address as an identifier, but for now it's hosted by their server.
I can't guarantee that every steevc out there is me, but it looks like most of them are. Other people
have more imaginative on-line names, but I'm happy with this one.
Tue, 11 Oct 2005
Another Book List Site
After I blogged
I found another site with similar aims
called Library Thing
. This has some nice features too. The
look-up system for adding books is very good and can use various library catalogues. It also has
tags, but so does everyone else these days.
There's a few things I would like to see there. It has an option to produce a box featuring selected
books to display on your site, but doesn't have RSS feeds. There's no standard way to indicate books
that you are currently reading, but you could use a tag for this. It allows for linking to books
with an Amazon associate ID, but I think this is only for the US site.
I noticed today that I had a message in my guest book from the owner of Library Thing, Tim, in response to
the previous entry asking if I had seen his site. We exchanged a few emails where I told him what I think.
He intends to take some of my suggestions on board. He's charging a small fee for those with large
book collections, but will probably not get rich from it. I told him that I really appreciate the
efforts of people like him in providing such services. The next time I have some spare cash I intend to
make a few donations to the sites whose services and products I regularly use.
Ancient Egypt and African Beats
As Tilly is learning about the ancient Egyptians at school we decided to take a trip
to the British Museum
on Saturday. It's probably
about 25 years since I was last there. From what I could remember it looked like
most of the displays had been updated. The biggest change is the rebuilt
amazing glass roof. We had lunch in the lofty restaurant there that had good food,
but is not a cheap option, even with the on-line booking discount.
We had a great day. We used a couple of kids' trail books that they were giving away.
These encouraged the kids to explore, although Dylan found some of it a bit boring
He's just a bit young for this sort of thing. Those of you on my contacts list
can see some pictures on Multiply.
Of course we had to get a few things from the shop. I couldn't resist a little croaking frog like
these to start
my percussion collection.
On Sunday I was at the Secret
Bass drum circle again. A different selection of people this time. We worked on
some of the patterns I tried last week and did some more singing. I really need to get
a drum so I can practice. It's a month until the next session, so I will probably forget
it all. I did get to play my frog there.
Thu, 06 Oct 2005
Just had a call on my mobile from 08004584727. It was someone trying to get me to
change contracts. I could barely hear her in the cafe at work. Anyway, I told her
I did not buy anything from people who phone me up.
If I had told her how much I spend on mobile calls she would probably have given up.
My average bill is probably less than ú2/month. I've been with
Virgin for a couple of years and
have no real issues with them.
have been annoyed by them too, as I found when I Googled
Sun, 02 Oct 2005
For some time I've been wanting to do something musical. I dabble on the
guitar and piano, but lack anyone to collaborate with. Saying that, I have
been teaching Tilly the piano and accompanying her when she plays the violin she has just
started at school.
Through the Herts Linux User Group I met
Malcolm who is involved with
Secret Bass drumming
group. Today I got around to attending a meeting. This involved finding a small
village in darkest Hertfordshire down twisting lanes, but I got there. The venue
is a wonderful straw-bale structure in the woods.
There were six of us there with
myself as the only complete beginner. I was taught the basic techniques and we
worked on a Senegalese tune they had picked up from another group. I was pleased to
find I could pick it up quite fast and even keep up with the others. Someone had
brought along a small metal drum that he started to demonstrate and a jam ensued,
complete with some dancing. Then we did a bit of Swahili singing! I know it all
sounds a bit new-age, but I really enjoyed it. I'm sure my hands will be sore
I intend to go along again.
Fri, 30 Sep 2005
A Radio Highlight
Radio 4 have various 'comedy' programme after the 6pm news during the week. Some of these fail to raise a titter with me,
but there are a few exceptions.
I've heard some of Milton's
previous work on Radio 4 and this is just as good.
It's a silly little comedy show based around Milton living various fantasies. There's a lot of puns
and word play, which is right up my street.
It's actually a lot like The Goon Show from the recordings I've heard of that.
Milton Jones in on Thursdays at 6:30pm for the next few weeks or you can listen to it via the BBC site.
Wed, 28 Sep 2005
Tracking my reading
I continue to be interested in web sites that allow you to log and track whatever you are
into. Amongst the services I use are:
- Last.fm logs the music I listen
to on the computer via a plug-in
- del.icio.us lets me store my links on-line
Both of these provide RSS feeds that I can publish on my site. They also support the use of
tags to categorise items in different ways,
but I've not used that for music yet. Not only is everyone's data public, but it can be used
to recommend other things you might like.
The latest variation is Reader2 where you can record books
you are reading or have read. It's fairly basic at the moment, but evolving. Some of the feeds
do not seem to work properly and recommendations seem to be limited to showing other users who
have some of the same books. I'd like to see more options for status. I'd like to be able to
specify more clearly how good I think a book is. It doesn't yet allow linking to friends.
Actually I already have something similar available via
That does a fairly good job of recommending books, music and films based on what I say I own
and how I rated it. This is valuable information to them to encourage people to buy more stuff.
I just prefer to see more open implementations of the technology.
Ultimately I'd like to write my own tools for all this, but it's just easier to use something
other people have done. In the past you might have used software on your PC to log personal
collections, but I prefer the on-line options as I can use them from anywhere. The usability
of web pages is improving and making software redundant. For me the limitation is how much
of my personal information I trust others to look after.
Tue, 27 Sep 2005
Film Review:A Beautiful Mind 4/5
Russell Crowe proves he's not just a hard man in this
film based on the real life of mathematician John Forbes Nash.
The film is not really about his mathematical discoveries, but they are mentioned in passing. It shows him
lecturing about the Riemann Zeta Function that I read about in
Prime Obsession. In
fact there is a recommendation from Nash on the cover of the book.
The film is mainly about his problems with schizophrenia. From what I've read these were mainly auditory
hallucinations and so not as vivid as portrayed in the film, but it still made him highly paranoid and
resulted in him having some fairly nasty treatments that may not have helped much.
Crowe puts in a good performance. It seems to be a cliche that playing someone with a handicap is a good
way to get an Oscar, but he didn't quite get there. The rest of the cast are also good and the period detail
looks right to me. John Nash was consulted for the film which may be why it does not mention things like
his other marriages, but I don't think that makes it a worse film. It shows how hard it can be to deal
with mental illness whilst still being an entertaining film.
Details and trivia at IMDB.
Thu, 22 Sep 2005
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We just came back from a short break in Barcelona
. We flew over on
and stayed at the very modern Hotel Constanza
The attractions we enjoyed included:
Picasso Museum - located in a series of very old houses in
the old town this gave me a greater appreciation of his talents. I still don't understand some of it.
Casa Batllˇ - our first Gaudi building. Only saw the outside,
but still impressed.
Casa MilÓ - incredible Gaudi appartment building. Well worth a visit
to see the original rooms and the amazing roof.
Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's unfinished church. It will look amazing
when they finish it in around 20 years. Meanwhile it's a work in progress. You can go in and go up some of the towers.
I do wonder about the value of investing so much effort in a religeous building, but still admire the beauty of it
Barcelona Cathedral - a slightly older building (few
hundred years) that also impressed. The view from the roof is great.
The rest of the city varies between elegant avenues and the cramped old town, but it's generally unspoilt by ugly, modern
developments. They even have something resembling the London Gerkin.
There's plenty of shopping opportunities and the dining is excellent. It just takes a bit of adjustment as many restaurants do
not open until 9pm, so you generally have to eat late.
The airport has the largest selection of shops I've seen outside Heathrow, but we only bough ta few gifts.
I would consider going back in the future to see if they have finished all their building. I'd also like to visit the
Dali Museum that is a way out of town.
There are a few pictures on my Multiply site, but these are restricted to my contacts
there. If you would like access then drop me a line.
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