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Wed, May. 26th, 2010, 01:23 pm
New Doctor Who

I'm running a bit behind on my Doctor Who watching, but I've watched the first five episodes. Changing the Doctor is a scary and worrying time for the viewer. What if the new one is rubbish? What if I don't like him? Fortunately in Matt Smith I think that they've hit the jackpot. Right from the off he's really captured the Doctor, while still giving the role a fresh new twist. I think he's nailed the role much quicker than David Tennant did.

The new assistant is also pretty good. She's a lot like Martha Jones, which is no bad thing, although by the end I did find Martha quite grating. Unlike Billy Piper she can actually act her way out of a paper bag, so she's already quite a way up my list of favourite assistants.

The stories so far haven't been classics, but they've been ok. The most recent episodes that I've seen, the two parter involving the Angels, really annoyed me. The first episode with the stone angels was genuinely scary and one the top episodes of the relaunched Dr Who. The new two episodes lost much of the scariness by neutering the angels, and preventing them killing any of the lead characters when it seemed easier for them to kill than not. They also reused an annoying plot device from the previous episode featuring River Song: talking to a dead person using a communicator.

One annoying thing about the new series is that they've replaced Anthony Stewart Head as the narrator on Doctor Who Confidential. Poor Giles.

Wed, Nov. 4th, 2009, 01:02 pm
6 Years Old Today

Today is my Livejournal's 6th Birthday. It's certainly not used as much as it used to be (only a few posts so far this year), partly because of newer, shinier sites like Facebook and Twitter but also because most people that I used to follow have stopped using it. Anyway, enough of that, here's something more interesting.

Yesterday I went to benefit gig for Bletchley Park (the WWII code-breaking station) which was really rather excellent. It opened with a talk by Simon Singh on the Engima machine and code breaking in general. The rest of the show featured stand up sets from Dave Gorman, Punt & Dennis, Robin Ince and Richard Herring. All of these guys were excellent, although Dave Gorman did wobble in the middle of his set. The show also featured a rather ramshakle comedy panel show with Robert Llewellyn as chair, Robin Ince and Richard Herring as guests as well Johnny Ball. If you were a child of the 80s you'll know how exciting it was to see Johnny Ball. He was great.

The show finished was a sketch based on Radio 4's show that's set in Bletchley Park, Hut 33 featuring Punt & Dennis, Robert Llewellyn, the voice of Stephen Fry and others.

All in all a excellent way to spend £25, and it was all for charity anyway!

Mon, Sep. 7th, 2009, 02:14 pm
Writer's Block: Top of the Charts

What's the most-played song in your music library?

According to Last.fm, it's Munich by Editors.

Fri, Mar. 6th, 2009, 01:08 pm
Banning Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is supposed to be giving a speech at the University of Oklahoma. A legislator has tried to stop him by banning him from the whole state!

Read the text of the proposal here.

Nice to know that free speech is alive and well in America...

Tue, Feb. 10th, 2009, 01:00 pm
Missing The Point

I don't think Amazon have quite got the point of Valentine's day. On their frontpage at the moment they're showing...

Either Amazon wrongly assumes I'm single (although given the geeky nature of some of the things on my wishlist it's a reasonable guess) or they're really missing the point.

Mon, Feb. 2nd, 2009, 09:27 am

Unlike the southern softy Like scaryjeff I have battled my way into work and am one of only five people in my office. I hope I can get home!

See below the cut for a couple of snowy railway scenes.

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Wed, Jan. 14th, 2009, 01:25 pm
Comedy Nightmare

Last night I went to a benefit show for the Free Fringe starring Sean Lock, Robin Ince, Dave Gorman, Lucy Porter and several others. The show was a mixed bag, as you'd expect with so many performers. All the big names were great though.

The show was compèred by Daniel Kitson who, as compères tend to do, chatted with members of the audience. We were almost in the middle, on the front row. Guess who he picked on first? Me! Argh! I can't say I engaged in witty banter which had the audience in stitches, but compared to the other three people on the front I probably came out of it the best. Bizarrely there was another Andrew who was a computer programmer on the front row, and we ended up have an argument over which was best, Java or C++, with Kitson acting as the intermediary. Fortunately my "Java is slow" argument beat his "It's used by hundreds of people". One nil to me!

Being picked on has always been a concern of mine, but it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. I'm not sure how I would cope if I were ever asked on stage though...

Mon, Dec. 29th, 2008, 11:14 am

I brought my laptop to my parents house so I could be guarenteed a decent computer to use. Unfortunately my desire to make sure it had all the latest software on it coupled with the fact it hadn't been updated for ages means that I've broken it several interesting ways over the past few days. Consequently I'm writing this blog post on my iPhone while lots of writing scrolls up my screen. I really need to get off Gentoo... At least the Wii is working. Mario Kart won't race itself you know!

Mon, Dec. 22nd, 2008, 12:45 pm
Early Christmas

Today is my last day at work. Tomorrow I pack my bags and make the 90 minute trip up the East Coast Mainline to my parents house. Unfortunately Ellen won't be with me, she'll be making the considerably longer trip from Stanstead to Dublin. As we're not spending the actual day together we decided to have an early Christmas yesterday. We tried to make it as much like the real day as possible, although with less Doctor Who.

For my present Ellen brought me a subscription to New Scientist magazine. For the last five years I've had a subscription to the NME but I found it less and less interesting and cared less and less about the bands in it so I canceled. It's nice to have a high-brow replacement so I'll look cool* reading it on the train home from work.

Our flat looks a little bare and we have looked at, and discussed buying, some art to go on our walls. Unfortunately real art is far to expensive so for her present I got two photos from our holidays blown up onto 14"x18" canvas by The Digital Room. I think they've come out really well, and Ellen seemed very happy with them. I haven't taken a photo of them hanging in our flat, but the photos I used were of Geraniums and Dun Laoghaire Harbour Lighthouses.

I think it's nice to spread the presents out, now I get to get excited again on Thursday :-)

* Is it even possible to look cool while reading a science magazine? I hope so!

Mon, Nov. 24th, 2008, 01:08 pm
iPhone gripes

I've been using my iPhone for two weeks now, and overall it's great. Easily the best phone I've ever used. It really has changed the way I live my life because there is so much I can now do from anywhere that before I'd need to be at my computer for.

Despite this though, there are a few things that Apple should fix.

1. There's no character count when typing a text message.

This might be a small issue and given I get 500 free texts a month (which is way more than I use) it doesn't matter that I might sometimes send people two messages. However, it would be nice to be able tailor my messages to the limit of 160 characters.

2. The new over-the-air download of podcasts is complete broken.

Rather than listen to my music on a loop while I travel I listen to a number of podcasts, and Steve Lamacq's 6music show. MythTV on my PC records his show every afternoon. A script then converts the recording into a 300MB MP3 file and updates the xml document that describes it as a podcast. This is served by Apache on my local machine.

Specifying works fine for iTunes on my PC. When I sync my iPhone new episodes of Lamacq's show get copied automatically across.

It was well known that an update last week would add over the air downloads for podcasts. This would be brilliant I thought, because then I wouldn't need to turn my girlfriends laptop on unless I want to back my phone up.

Disappointingly there are two big flaws with the implementation of podcasts on the phone when compared to podcasts on iTunes. Firstly there is no automatic checking for new episodes - you must press a button for each feed to see if it has been updated. Secondly only podcasts that are delivered through the iTunes store can be downloaded straight to your phone. When attempting to sync my custom podcast on my phone no attempt is made to download the feed and I get sent to the store's podcast homepage.

Is there any need for this limitation? I can't think of a good reason for it :-(

Google is useless to see if anyone else has come across this issue or resolved it because it's full of speculation and screenshots from before the update was released.

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