Saturday, 28 August 2010

…and on the way home I saw the sun

After a week at work most Fridays end with me slumped in the sofa late evening and falling asleep in front of the television. This week was a short family holiday that ended with me slumped in the sofa late evening and falling asleep in front of the television. I have fallen out of love, if it ever was love, with CenterParcs. Aside from a hint of blue sky on the Tuesday afternoon it wasn’t until I drove home that I finally got to see the sun. The rest of the time it rained… and rained... and rained.

Of course this is hardly the fault of my hosts, but just as good weather can excuse, the poor weather exposed the faults. Because when things are a bit shit you kind of want to make up for it at the end of the day with, for example, a half-decent meal. Alternatively you could try eating at Hucks, an American themed diner offering a ‘Juniors buffet’ for £5.50; or as my daughter found out, five empty hot plates. I tell myself, so long as my daughter enjoys herself then nothing else really matters, and lack of food notwithstanding she did. But I didn’t.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Terminator versus work colleague

It says much about my day that when I described someone as “like the Terminator” and then added “a psychopathic killing machine”, I subsequently spent several minutes analysing why that was the wrong thing to say.

Then I realised it’s because the Terminator isn’t a psychopath. A psychopath has an abnormal lack of empathy whereas a lack of understanding is de rigueur for your average T-800. Besides being more impressed than I should be for writing ‘de rigueur’ in a discourse on the true nature of cybernetic organisms, it got me to thinking again about the nature of evil itself. Which is worse – doing a bad thing and knowing it’s wrong or doing an evil thing and not knowing? Or is evil defined by an understanding that what is being done is wrong and not caring? Or are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ hollow constructs we place on what is an essentially meaningless world?

I started this train of thought whilst watching Terminator Salvation, starring the very angry Christian Bale. I liked the acknowledgement to its predecessors – “come with me if you want to live” and even the traditional “I’ll be back” – though I groaned at the old “if we act like them then we’re no better than machines” chestnut. It was probably about that time my mind wandered to the other films and how I’d never really rated Judgement Day, also known as “Cool, my own terminator”, and how Rise of the Machines was so much better (I really mean that) and Nick Stahl, who played John Conner in that film, also played the boy in The Man Without a Face and that must mean that Mel Gibson is really old now and maybe that’s why he’s so angry. It’s a fear of death.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Everybody in the house say

I am recovered from reminiscing about home computer games of the past, an exercise in nostalgia and depression, and I’m over the short-lived relevance (Google fixed the widget shortly afterwards) of my one and only technical blog. It wasn’t long before I found something to distract me.
Has it ever occurred to anyone that when the electorate doesn't make up its mind, it might actually *want* a second election?
5:12 AM Aug 13th
Tom Harris is a Labour MP from north of the border and a Doctor Who fan – so he’s not all bad, and he is at least in ‘good’ company for such a nonsense comment. The BBC have a track record for meaningless generalisations, “black Americans” and “white Americans” is one that still rankles - though that was more insulting than silly.

The electorate didn’t vote for a hung parliament, that was the result. The majority of people who voted Conservative or Labour did so in the hope that their choice would win the election outright. Those who voted Liberal Democratic wanted a hung parliament not out of some altruistic let’s-all-pull-together notion but the realisation that this was their only chance of Government.

Some might argue this is semantics but for me it’s more than that. To me the notion of a collective consciousness also allows for the idea that those who choose to think differently are in some way an anomaly that can be ignored, or maybe even a problem that must be addressed, and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

To search, or not to search

If there’s one function you expect Blogger to nail it’s 'search'. Blogger after all is owned by Google whose raison d'ĂȘtre is the search engine. So in addition to the long standing query over whether blog searches reliably return all they should, I’m bemused that for the last few days the search widget they provide has failed to load. It’s a “known problem” apparently and Google are “working on a fix”, though I got fed up waiting and had to search for one myself. Thanks to Vagabundia the problem with the search widget was solved by signing up for an AJAX search API key then adding the following script into the head of my blog:
<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>
An alternative to the widget, and something that works like the search function in the Blogger Navbar, would be to add an HTML/JavaScript gadget and write a little code of your own:
<form id="search-this" action="BLOG_URL/search" style="display:inline;" method="get">
<input id="search-query" maxlength="255" name="q" size="19" type="text" />
<input id="search-btn" value="Search" type="submit" />
Should I feel inclined it’s an option that allows me to style the display to my own ‘taste’ but personally I prefer the output from the widget - when it works.

Game over

I miss Arcadians, or Galaxians if you will; life was simple. A collection of blue, yellow or red pixels would swoop down in a jagged pattern whilst you timed your highly advanced one-shot cannon to take the little bastard out; miss and you were in a world of pain. You knew exactly what to expect, each level getting quicker until finally you were overwhelmed. Today the game offers an illusion of movement in all directions, tantalising players with a hope of victory. Back then it was more honest, day after day, more and more of the same and the sure knowledge that you would never ever win.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


I may have written a few times that I’m not religious, and about my annoyance I should feel the need to state this before writing anything that touches on religion. I shouldn’t now but those practicing atheists annoy me every time I think about them, which of course is every time I write on the subject. Maybe I’ll go back to labelling myself agnostic (the world loves a label) so as to divorce myself from the Dawkins sect – in a non-judgemental way of course.

I wonder how many atheists watched Rev? OK, sorry, no more – I wonder how many avoided Rev due to its religious context? That’s a fair question since I almost missed it myself; having endured a lifetime exposure to some awful caricature I thought why put myself through any more? It’s probably the dog collar that invites such lazy writing, or maybe television is generally crap and I notice it more when a ‘person of the cloth’ is involved. That’s not to mention The Vicar of Dibley

Rev on the other hand is brilliant, though I’m finding it hard to pinpoint exactly why I liked it so much. It’s full of the usual comedy ‘characters’ and normally that’s enough to have me reaching for the remote. There’s the successful wife who is the rock of the relationship, the heavy drinking homeless guy, the prudish reserve Reverend (what are they called?), the overly enthusiastic member of the congregation and the scary figure of authority in the Archdeacon. There’s an air of decay under which these people live their lives and I think it wins because it feels authentic. It’s a world going to seed yet full of warmth and kindness, people who actually care for each other. Oh, and it has real humour too. But I like how Tom Hollander put it in a recent interview:
...they’re just funny jokes, aren’t they? And they’re said with love.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Happy slapped by the database

I had a good day yesterday - I managed to get two, maybe even three things working! I could see a hazy distant light only for it to cloud over today; not even a chorizo sausage baguette could cheer me up. The change request database stopped working for no apparent reason and then after lunch started to behave itself - again for no apparent reason. It vexes me greatly. I am making progress but it is slow. I have a holiday soon. I am looking forward to it.

A fun holiday might stop mistakes such as letting my daughter watch the The IT crowd on replay. It was the best episode of the recent and occasionally misfiring series; Italian for Beginners. Roy has a new girlfriend and learns that her parents died in a tragic fire at a "Sea Parks" during a sea lion show. Unfortunately the line that made me laugh the loudest was Roy’s explanation when his girlfriend walks in whilst he’s checking out her story on the internet. Cue one of those awkward pauses whilst I grapple for an answer to my daughter's inevitable question.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Up in the air

I had very little planned for the weekend, yet still managed to avoid doing any of it. I got up late, exercised, and then watched a film; Up in the Air. It was entirely predictable but a story told with flair, no wonder since it featured the annoyingly likeable George Clooney. My criticism would be that like Juno, also directed by Jason Reitman, it was far too easy to see through its supposed hard exterior. Clooney played Ryan Bingham, a man hired to fire people when employers are too coward to do their job. It was possibly not the best film to watch given the last 12 months, but I manage not to think about those possibilities too much; to the extent that I was a little disappointed when the filmmakers lost their bottle towards the end. The ‘interviewees’ discussing what was really important in their lives was a little difficult to stomach, since it’s easy to find the people who survive. But I can forgive that and the inevitable romantic entanglement, since Bingham himself finishes the film as he should; it’s a little sad but a good ending can forgive so much. I should really dislike this film, instead I’ll probably buy the DVD.