Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Random Meandering Crap

Hello. I'm bored at work so thought I'd update this thing for my own amusement. It's a bit like a virtual version of writing down the day's date or a comment in the corner of the page you're reading when ploughing through a book. Ever done that? I have (obviously). No point to it, just think it's cool to randomly stumble across shit written down years ago. For example, I recently found my old copy of The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy (the one with all the books in one volume) and remembered that I'd done the old 'write in the corner' thing with that. The notes I found were scribbled while I was reading said sci-fi comedy epic during night shifts in my job as a concierge in the Hacienda Apartments in Manchester. They were only things like 'bored, it's 3:12 am and I need a piss' etc, but I thought it was quite interesting to glimpse back into the past, and at the inanities of previous employ.

The Hacienda Apartments, yesterday.

That was a fucking weird job though. It was 2004 and the building itself (constructed on the site of the renowned Hacienda nightclub) wasn't even finished - indeed only a handful of the flats on the lower floors were actually occupied. The upper levels of the building were far from finished though, and some sections didn't even have the lid on yet - an aspect of the place I used to exploit by going up on the roof at night and watching the skyline twinkle. All very romantic, I'm sure you'll agree. Took a dump in a few of the unfinished apartments' toilets, too. Perks of the job an' all that. Seems like a lifetime ago now - so much shit has happened between then and now its unreal. But that's another post, on another long boring night here at my desk. I suppose it's quite apt, writing about my nights at the Hacienda though, seeing as I'm doing nights now and am equally as bored!

The Hacienda, back when it was a nightclub

Anyway, back to now. I've recently, through a website called, managed to swap (naturally) my Flip Video Mino and O2 XDA Mini S for a Nintendo DS Lite. I'm still waiting for it to arrive in the post, but hopefully I'll have it in my hands by the end of the week. I've never actually played on a DS so I'm intrigued to see what all the fuss is about. I used to have a PSP many moons ago and was addicted to it, but sold it to fund the purchase of my first car. I know, from looking at screenshots on various websites that the DS's graphics aren't really up to the standard of those displayed on Sony's handheld, but it appears to have a fair few decent-looking RPGs available for it, and that's what I'm after if truth be told - a game with some longevity and a meaty storyline. Oh, and a bit of Mario Kart action.

A low quality size comparison of the iPad and other devices. It's between the DS XL and the Amazon Kindle.

Been reading about that new tablet PC (Mac?) from Apple - the iPad, too. Personally, I don't really see the point. It just looks and sounds like a big iPhone, with the functionality of a Macbook. Who, exactly, is the thing aimed at? Most people who want the features that the iPad offer already have either an iPhone or an Apple laptop of some who else is there left to appeal to? Steve Jobs reckons that the iPad will offer a 'complete' browsing experience. Don't iPhones, iPod Touches, Powerbooks, iBooks, Macbooks, Powermacs, iMacs, PCs, PDAs, Blackberrys, smartphones, laptops, internet tablets and games consoles all offer a 'complete' internet browsing experience, y'know, already?! I'm not an Apple basher - I used to sell/demo the fucking things for a living (and I've still got my 'Apple Product Professional' badge and certificate to prove it), but the iPad just seems like a bit of a stupid thing to exist. Very cool, don't get me wrong, but still stupid. I have no doubts whatsoever that I'll be proved very, very wrong when Apple sell 20 billion of them and then use the profits to buy the moon, scoop a big chunk out of it and turn it into a massive, ubiquitous nocturnal corporate logo. Bah. Fuck you Apple and your money and stuff.

On the subject of money, it appears that an immediate lack of the stuff is having a profound impact on my ability to find a house share. I've been looking at various house mate websites, but all the landlords advertising seem to want some ridiculous deposit paid up front before you move in. I can see the point, don't get me wrong, but even when I explain my circumstances and offer to pay a deposit over, say, a few months, I just get the silent treatment. I'll keep trying though...and if it comes to it, I suppose I'll just have to save a deposit this month and then move next month when I get paid again. Not ideal, but what can you do?

Anything else I can bore you (ie, myself) with? Oh yeah - stop the press! I finally finished my book! I didn't actually write on any of the pages in this one because I forgot to, but I digress. The book was Fallen Angels by Richard Morgan - the sequel to hisawesome debut novel, Altered Carbon. The series depict the exploits of one Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy soldier ( hard cunt) who lives, dies and kills people with relative ease in a distant future where corporate corruption is rife, humanity has crossed the stars, and life is cheap.

Cheap, because the vast majority of people have their personalities 'backed up' in little canisters, or 'stacks,' that are implanted in the back of the neck. If they die, the stack is just implanted into a new body (called a sleeve) and then carry on regardless. Obviously, there's a fuck load more to this particular pantheon, but I can't really go into any great detail here simply because I can't be arsed. But take it from me, both Altered Carbon and Fallen Angels are brilliant books. There's a third in the series called Woken Furies (which I'll be buying), and Altered Carbon is rumoured to be getting the movie-adaptation yeah. Go and check them out if Sci-Fi awesomeness is your bag. If it's not, and read something else. Or don't. It really is up to you. You could go and wander around a shopping centre, looking at stuff in shop windows that you can neither afford nor have the inclination to buy, for example. Or you could have a biscuit. See - there's loads of things you could do. Bye.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Kneesy Peasy

Annoyingly, I have done my right knee in. As regular readers (all one of them) will know, I am quite the keen runner and I tend to average between 45 and 60 miles per week...but since last Friday I have been out of action. I'll explain. One of my routes takes me along a 1.6 mile stretch of fine Somerset A-road, and during the recent blizzards it naturally got blanketed. The constant trampling of this snow by other users of this route, combined with sub-zero overnight temperatures created a terrain not dissimilar to that of the surface of the moon - I would imagine, having not been there myself. And it is down to running over this icy, uneven lunar surface that I blame the recent destruction of my right knee. It feels like a particularly nasty daemon is sticking a knitting needle through my kneecap when I run for any period of time, and so have been giving it a miss over the last week, instead using a zero-impact cross-trainer/elliptical machine in the gym instead. This is fine, although I can only go for around 40 minutes before becoming so bored I want to strip the skin off my arms...I seriously need to get back out in the fresh air and once again embrace the freedom that road running offers.

When I think about my current predicament, it amazes me that I, up until a few months ago, almost exclusively ran on a treadmill in the gym. Now that I have started to run outdoors, I just can't see the appeal of sweating away in a dingy room with a load of other equally sweaty people. But I digress. I need to get this knee sorted asap and get my luminous yellow jersey on again soon as I fully intend to take part in a sponsored 7 miler in mid February. I forget the name of the good cause that funds raised will go to, but it will be a first for me to actually take part in a running event rather than running for the sake/enjoyment of it. Let's just hope my knee does the right thing and sorts itself out before then.

Also occupying my mind at the moment is the constant nagging feeling that I need to sort my shit out and find somewhere to live, properly. Since I joined the military, I have only really lived in service accomodation (apart from my brief stint in that shared house I moaned about last year). Whilst this is perfactly fine, I really need to acquire my own actual abode. Somewhere I can go to when I am not at work, for example. As it is at the moment, I live and work within the same barbed wire-topped fence, and I'm beginning to go a little stir crazy. So the hunt for a dwelling has resumed at full pace. Wish me luck.

Friday, 15 January 2010


What's new then? Not a lot, really. I am the first to admit that my life is probably about as dull as is humanly possible. It could quite possibly only become more mind-numbingly boring if I was a fucking corpse. Case in point - the highlight of the week thus far has been my trip to Halfords. You know, that car/bike shop where there is never a shop assistant around when you need one, and when you do actually find somebody who works there they haven't got a clue about anything - anything - to do with cars or bikes. Anyway, I went to buy a replacement exhaust pipe cover (see left) for my car as the previous one fell off. Oh, and a new cigarette lighter poppy-out thing because there wasn't one in the car when I bought it. See. No matter how fucking depressing you may think your existence is, there's always somebody else enjoying their time on this mortal coil less than you. In retrospect to reading what I have just written, I suppose I should be thankful that I live in the UK and not Haiti; that the few items I once owned are not now lying beneath the destroyed remains of my home, and that if I want something to eat I can just go to the fridge. And for that reason, I rescind all feelings of boredom and depression previously conveyed.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Eye Spy

You may have noticed that a lot of the detritus that weeps out of my mind and onto this blog is generally about various gadgets and bits of tech tat that litter my life. And you'd be right. That's because I like gadgets. I can't give a reason for this slightly obsessive fascination with little lumps of plastic that perform various non-essential tasks, nor can I give a reason as to why I waste yet more cash on magazines that pre and review new gadgets. What I can tell you, though, is that I've accrued quite a number of them over the past year or so, and I've noticed one thing that a lot of them have in common. Cameras. Yep, about 75% of the things I've acquired have cameras on them, and it only really occurred to me after reading one of Charlie Brooker's rants about ubiquitous screens, over on The Guardian's website. What he was saying is that no matter where most of us go throughout the average day, we're surrounded by screens. You know, TV screens, computer screens, phone screens, etc etc. But on the flipside, cameras are just as prevalent. Obviously, I'm aware of the ridiculous number of CCTV cameras dotted around Britain's towns and cities (did I read somewhere that the British public are the most observed in the world?); but, going back to the gadgets thing, I'm on about little mini cameras. Where the fuck is this meandering shite going? Well, the other day I counted the number of devices I own that are capable of recording either a still or moving image. Here they are:

Flip Video Mino. Obviously. It is a mini video recorder afterall. It'd be a bit fucking daft if it had no lens. Don't recall the resolution of the video it records, but it's pretty good quality. There is a HD version of this little beauty available, but it's slightly bigger than the original Mino and is more expensive.

Fuji Finepix J20. Again, its a camera. It captures brilliant 10 mp stills and there's also a fairly decent video option too.

O2 XDA Mini S. My old(ish) PDA/phone. It's got a 1.3 mp camera on it. Can also record average quality video.

Alcatel OT 707. I bought this cheapo touchscreen mobile to use after I got my old Nokia wet whilst on a mountain biking trip. It has a 1.3 mp camera on it and is capable of capturing (very low quality) video too.

iPod Nano 5G. The new Nano is an awesome gadget. Obviously, it stores music - but the new 5th Generation Nano also has a little camera on the back. The quality isn't mind-blowing when recorded clips are viewed on a PC, but when played back on the Nano's display it is perfectly acceptable. For some reason, the Nano can't take still pictures, but I'm sure the inevitable 6th Gen one will have the ability.

Dell Inspiron 1545 Core 2 Duo. My laptop. Finished with a lovely red lid. It also has a little camera lens embedded into the shell just above the screen. The quality of the pictures and video it records is perfectly acceptable for the function it serves. It is only meant to be a webcam, afterall.

HTC HD2. My new phone. That I went on about in my last post. It's got a 5mp camera that can shoot either stills or video.

So there you have it. Without even trying, I have accumulated SEVEN devices that can shoot pictures or video. Do I use any of them? Well, I use the Finepix to take photos when I'm out on the piss (incidentally, I've lost my two previous digital cameras on nights out) and I use the phone camera now and then, but apart from that the rest of them are pretty much redundant. Ebay time, methinks. There's no point to me telling you all this, by the way. I'm just bored at work so thought I'd amuse myself by writing something. Anything. Urgh.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Ooooh look! Snow! It's snowing outside. Fucking great. This snow might be good if you're ten and looking for a day off school, but for the rest of us (including me), it's a pain in the ring piece akin to having a jalapeno pepper rubbed in your eye. By Bluto from Popeye. Why so? Well, the whole country seems to have ground to a halt. And it pisses me right off. Look at countries like Russia, Norway, Sweden etc. These places have heavier snow than this all year round, yet you don't see their societies completely break down. Case in point: I am currently trying to get my O2 mobile broadband account cancelled. Mainly because the service delivered by the dongle/network signal is dire, but this is besides the point. Yesterday I called O2 to discuss my account.

I was met with a recorded message saying that O2 was closed due to 'adverse weather conditions.' Whaaaa?! It's a bit of fucking snow, for shit's sake! I reiterate: O2 shut down their complete customer service operation because of snow fall. Do people have mobile phones in Russia, Norway and Sweden? Yes. Do their phone networks have customer service helplines? Yes. Are they closed when it snows? No. Because if they were, they'd be closed 75% of the fucking year! Yet here we are in good old Blightly, wimpering behind our curtains because Jack Frost has emptied his ball sack over our gardens and roads. Makes me wanna fucking scream. Fair enough, I appreciate the treacherous nature of the roads during this cold snap (I skidded off the asphalt and into a field last week), but surely staff who live within a certain radius of the call centre (it's in Bury, near Manchester - and I used to work their many years ago) could, y'know, walk into work? Bah.

Not O2, today or yesterday

On the subject of mobile phones, you may remember that in one of my last posts I was blathering on about my O2 XDA (jeez, a lot of my life is ruled by O2 ain't it?!). Well, as January rolled around my contract matured and I was offered an 'upgrade.' For those who don't know, it's a clever way of tying customers to another 18 month contract by offering them a spangly new handset. I, like many before me, have fallen victim to this ploy and received my new handset. At this juncture, I would like to push aside all forms of cynicism and sarcasm because the handset O2 have given me is nothing short of a miraculous piece of technology. No, it's not an iPhone. Spectacular as it no doubt is, it seems that every man, his dog and big issue seller have one these days and I strive for minority status.

No, what I've got is an HTC HD2. A phone that looks and behaves very similarly to the iPhone but (in my humble opinion) is superior. It has a superior operating system (Windows Mobile 6.5 with HTC Sense interface). It has a superior screen size. It has a superior CPU (1 Ghz Snapdragon). It has a superior 5mp camera. It has integrated Facebook, Twitter, MSN Messenger and Windows Live. It has Google Maps, Opera, Internet Explorer (that allows playback of page-embedded flash and video files) and Youtube as standard. It has a proximity sensor so the screen locks when you hold the phone up to your ear. It has a light sensor that automatically dims the screen in low light conditions as not to burn your retinas out. It can be used as a WiFi router by your laptop. It has Microsoft Office as standard. It has an accelerometer. It can cook your tea for you - and eat it - while you watch Countdown in the next room.

Basically, it's awesomely good. Actually, scratch that - it's benchmark-destroyingly good. I suppose the only areas in which the iPhone could be considered truly superior are the App Store and iTunes connectivity. But I already have an iPod Nano 5G (fucking brilliant, by the way) and the built in Windows/Microsoft Marketplace used by HD2 promises to expand rapidly with the launch of the new Zune HD in the good ol' U S of A. Obviously, the iPhone has a massive advantage over the HD2 in that it's been out longer and has a much, much larger installed user base already, but it's always good to look at the alternatives and if I had to choose between the two, the HD would get my vote every time.

A bit of a geekish rant there, but that's what I like. That, and slagging shit off. That'll be coming soon...