It’s Cold… Weather You Like It Or Not

(Yes, I can spell, it was meant to be a pun)

I’m getting a bit bored of everyone losing their shit over the weather. Yes, it’s snowed quite a lot and yes, it’s noticeably colder as a result, but Britain really should be prepared for this sort of thing.

We all know we’re not living in Barbados and that snow’s going to come every now and then, and weather forecasters had been predicting it for a while. So how come every time it snows the public transport services in London grind to a complete stop?

Even the London Underground – the vast majority of which, as subtly hinted by its name, is located underground – had loads of delays and the like due to the weather. Of course, that’s hardly here nor there: the London Underground’s so unreliable I could spit on the rails and shut the District line down for a fortnight.

Basically, we all need to man up and do what more rational people would do at this time. Build a snowman. Here’s one I found when I simply Googled “snowman who looks like the pope”:

A snowman who looks like the Pope

I don't know who the people are, and I'm not sure I care much.

I’ll admit I haven’t built one yet myself, but it’s only a matter of time. I can’t decide whether to build your more traditional Raymond Briggs snowman with a tangerine for a nose or go for something a little more elaborate, like digging a big tunnel in the snow and building 33 tiny snow miners to live inside it for a couple of months. Who knows.

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December 23, 2010 at 3:08 am 2 comments

OMG, HD-DVD RIP? LOL, OK IMO

When the HD war began, I set my foot firmly in the HD-DVD camp. I liked the fact that HD-DVD was completely region-free, and despite all the Blu-Ray fanboys going on about the difference in file size (a Blu-Ray can hold up to 50GB while an HD-DVD can only hold up to 30GB), it’s so rare that a disc is completely filled that in actual fact the difference between the two is negligible.

In fact, HD-DVD was the first to do fancy stuff like picture-in-picture shenanigans and menus that popped up at the bottom of the screen while the film was still playing. It did some really clever stuff like the visual commentary by Tom Cruise in M:I3 where he actually has control of the film: he pauses the movie for you, talks about it and then has the courtesy to rewind it back for you too.

I stand by HD-DVD and will always prefer it to Blu-Ray. Which is why the death of HD-DVD was the best thing to ever happen to me.

See, HD films are still too expensive. You’re talking an RRP of around £17.99 for chart Blu-Rays, maybe £14.99 if you’re really lucky. It’s similar to the price DVDs were when they first came out a decade ago, when shops had the audacity to charge £19.99 for Snake Eyes starring Nicholas Cage.

When news started to break that Blu-Ray was winning the HD format war, I crossed my fingers that if HD-DVD lost it would die completely. The reason for this is simple: what happened next was exactly what I wanted to happen. The arse went out of HD-DVDs and their prices plummeted.

I was in New York on a press trip when Toshiba, the last company to continue supporting HD-DVD, finally admitted defeat. The next day I went to Tower Records in Times Square and, as I’d hoped, it was selling every single HD-DVD for 50% off. I picked up the first series of Heroes, which had just come out two weeks previously, for around £20 (this was when the exchange rate was great too), as well as some other stuff.

That was nearly two years ago now, and I’ve spent that time building a really healthy collection of HD films. I’ve got about 50 HD-DVDs now and tonight I just bought another ten for only £40. I’d be lucky to pay £100 for ten Blu-Rays just now. It’s good because the spectacular films that truly show off the power of HD are among the cheapest, because shops bought them in their droves. You can get Transformers for £1.99 if you look hard enough online: it’s still around £15 on Blu-Ray and the quality is identical.

If you’re new to HD and want to dabble in it, but are put off by the high prices of Blu-Ray, the late but undoubtedly great HD-DVD format is a fantastic  way to get started and build a large collection for very little money.

January 5, 2010 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

An iPhone Moan

I’ve had an iPhone for a couple of months now. I have iTunes on my PC so I can add music, videos and apps from my house and I have it on my laptop so I can do the same when I’m not in the house: a good example of this is just now, while I’m at home in Scotland with no access to my PC.

The problem is that the iPhone can only have one ‘library’. If I add stuff from the PC then try to add stuff from the laptop I’m told I can’t do so without completely wiping the iPhone.

What the hell is that all about? I know Apple are funny about piracy and stuff like that but surely if tracks are bought from iTunes under one account and that account is signed into two different computers then you should be able to copy files over from both computers with no hassle.

“Ah,” you may say, “but then people would just pass their account logins around and share all the music.” Not really. Apple has restrictions in place so that you can only log into five different computers: if you try to log into a sixth you’re told you’re not able to.

So if I can only use my account on a handful of PCs, then why is Apple deciding that’s not good enough and I can only copy stuff over from one PC?

It’s frustrating: I used my PC to put loads of films on my iPhone when I was in London, to keep me entertained while I was in Scotland. I’ve seen those videos now and want to put more on using my laptop, but in order to do that iTunes wants me to completely wipe my iPhone, deleting all the videos, music and apps that are already on there. The FUCK?

The so-called way of getting around this is clicking an option which says “Manually manage files” in iTunes. When you click this you can just drag-and-drop audio and video files, just like an old-school iPod. Perfect, eh? Just what I need. Except when you click that option you’re told you have to erase the iPod first.

This is pathetic, Apple. The iPhone is NOT cheap, so when I buy it I expect to be able to use it with both my PC and my laptop without any hassle. I can do that with USB drives, I can do it with joypads, I can so it with any other MP3 player under the sun. Why is Apple being so knobby about this?

December 29, 2009 at 1:28 am 1 comment

Rage Against The Rage Ragers

I’m supporting the campaign to make Rage Against The Machine the Christmas number one. Why? Because it’s a song I’ve loved for years and I think it deserves to be acknowledged better than the lowly chart position it received when it was first released back in the ’90s. That’s all.

That said, I’m sick of all the clever dicks who keep making those really annoying “you do realise” questions. “You do realise that they’re both Sony songs so Simon Cowell makes money no matter what?” Yes, but Simon Cowell has plenty of money already. This isn’t about money to him, it’s about power. He had nothing to do with Rage Against The Machine and I’m sure he’s not exactly going to be jumping for joy about something he didn’t create outselling something he did to deprive him of that all-important Christmas number one spot that means so much to the music industry in the UK.

“You do realise the irony in buying a song that says ‘fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’ when in reality by buying it you’re only doing what someone else tells you?” Well, if I decided to be a rebel and buy Saturday Night by Whigfield instead it might not really have the same impact. There needs to be someone organising what’s going on, otherwise no song will really have a chance of challenging the top spot. The difference with this campaign is that we at least have a choice. Nobody is “telling” us to buy the song, we’re choosing to support it. On the other hand, without the campaign the X Factor song would be number one whether we wanted it or not.

“You do realise this would have been better had you been backing a festive song instead?” Sorry, I forgot The Climb was all about Santa’s arduous journey up the side of a bungalow. Personally, yes, I would have preferred something like Fairytale Of New York to have been the campaign song, but the truth is the Rage song is far more effective. It’s so different to the schmaltzy X Factor song that it seperates the listeners into two completely different camps.

I’ve been a Rage Against The Machine fan for around a decade now. The most important thing about this campaign in my opinion isn’t necessarily the battle for the Christmas number one. In my heart I’d love it to win but in my head it doesn’t seem likely, not when all the mums start buying the CD single for their children’s Christmas when they go shopping after work tonight.

What’s important for me is what’s currently top of the iTunes album charts: Rage Against The Machine. This campaign has given the band far more coverage than it’s ever had in the mainstream media, and it’s finding a huge new potential audience as a result.

And if just a handful of these new listeners take note of the political messages throughout the rest of Rage’s songs, they may feel encouraged to learn more and get politically active. That’s the real success story here.

December 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

Quick Tip: Hands-Free Kits

Here’s the first of a few quick tips I’ll be giving out to help make the world a better place. In a way I’m like a modern day Christ figure. By which I mean an action figure with not a lot of articulation. Anyway, here’s the tip.

Hands-free kits for mobile phones are designed for the car, so you can drive with two hands. Now, unless your walking ability is at such an advanced level that you can gain extra purchase from the environment by literally gripping the air and pulling yourself along, you don’t need a hands-free kit while walking.

It makes you look like a twat, plain and simple. People who know you’re on the phone think you’re a pretentious tosser, and people who don’t think you’re insane and having an argument with yourself.

And if, like the idiot I walked past this morning, your hands-free kit fits so badly that you have to use a HAND to hold the mic to your mouth, then it’s not serving its purpose and you should JUST USE A PHONE.

Thank you.

December 8, 2009 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

Tubes On The Tube

Sorry I’ve been a bit late with this list, but here it is now. This is a list of things that have happened to me on the Tube (on multiple occasions for some) and that angered me so much that I had to bite my fist to stop me from forcefully slamming it into the offender’s larynx.

1) On one occasion the train started beeping because the doors were about to close, so a big guy started running to the train to jump on before they did.  I was also running to try to get on the train. The guy jumped inside the train and stopped dead in his tracks, forcing me to slam into the back of him, at which point he turned round and glared at me as if it was deliberate. Sorry mate, I didn’t realise that as soon as you were on nobody else behind you mattered. Wish I’d led with my elbow.

2) This one’s a weekly occurrence: a group of tourists (usually a family with two children) standing in the middle of a corridor, usually a narrow one that leads from one platform to another, discussing which way to go. Here’s an idea: out the bastard way so people can get past you.

3) People who stand on the left-hand side on the escalator (note to non-Londoners: you stand on the right and walk on the left) or, even worse, people who stand on the right and sit their luggage on the left. It makes me think I can climb over it, then I decide against it at the last minute and end up having to stand behind it while the person behind me tuts as if it’s my fault I’m not walking any further. I’m not Casper mate, I can’t just plough through the thing.

4) Slow people. Not so much old people: they’re annoying but it can’t be helped. I mean slow people who are just sauntering down the corridor, without a care in the world. Get out of my way, please. This isn’t a scenic route, it’s designed for people to get from one place to the other as quickly as possible. It’s a transport system, not the Lake District.

5) People who cram themselves into tubes that are already filled to the brim, and shout “could you all move up please” as if nobody had thought of that. There’s another one in two minutes chief, just wait. It’s not Sliding Doors.
That’s all that spring to mind just now, though I’m certain there’ll be more. Feel free to comment below and add your own.

December 8, 2009 at 1:50 am Leave a comment

Knit One… Oh

While I was on the Tube this morning I saw a truly bewildering sight. A woman in her thirties got on, sat down and spent ages rummaging in her bag. Eventually she took out some knitting needles and an unidentifiable woolen creation, then started knitting.

Now, this is odd but by no means bizarre. The tube may not be the most stable environment for such a delicate task but I’ve seen someone successfully applying mascara on the Tube before so it’s possible.

The bewildering thing was that precisely one stop later she quickly packed up all her stuff again and left thr Tube. After one stop. Taking into account the time taken to get the knitting out of her bag, that’s about 50 seconds of knitting action.

How important does her knitting have to be that she has to spend every spare half-minute doing a little more? For some reason, harmless as she was, it annoyed me.

I get annoyed a lot in London. It’s turning me into a proper moody bastard. Don’t get me wrong, when I talk to people I’m as nice as possible because being polite is one of the most important things you can be in my opinion. But deep down so many things annoy me. Especially on the Tube.

Tomorrow i’ll give a list of things that make my blood boil on the Tube. Beware, it could get nasty.

December 4, 2009 at 6:07 pm Leave a comment

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