Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Danger UXB

Don’t let this happen to you.

If you bought a laptop, or a battery from Apple after October 2003, then go here to see if you’re eligible for a replacement.

This is the best news ever. With a dead battery and a hard drive displaying a bad case of bad-sectoritis, I was all prepared to retire my Powerbook rather than pay to replace both. But now that I’m getting a free battery, installing a fresh HD makes a lot more sense.

Three cheers for Sony’s shoddy QA!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nothing pretty about it

So farewell Bullock, Swedgin, Jane, EB and all the rest of you Deadwood cocksuckers. You should have had another season because, man, that was a depressing finale.

I hope John from Cincinnati turns out to be a corker, but it'll be difficult to think of it as anything other than the show they cancelled Deadwood for.

At least HBO still have The Wire. I would once have sworn Deadwood was the greatest slice of TV ever made, but that was before I got caught up with David Simon’s Baltimore opus. Since then, no contest. Season Four starts Sept. 10th. Watch it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Clean Sweep

For a show that the Sci-Fi Channel originally thought was “too British” to pick up, Doctor Who certainly did well enough at the Hugo awards.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cognitive dissonance was a friend of mine

I showed my CV to a friend at work. She thought the opening statement could do more to sell my abilities and personality, and she was right, of course; the problem with it was that it was too unfocussed, as if I didn’t really know what I want to do.

Which I don’t. I mean I know - ultimately - what I want to be doing, but in the interim, how am I to live? So she gave me a book, Take Your Own Aptitude Test, which contains loads of exercises to test verbal reasoning, acuity skills, spatial ability and so on, as well as a section on personality profiling and a thorough motivational exam. It’s supposed to help you know yourself, your skills and limitations, and give you some idea of what you might be happy doing. I spent two hours doing all the exercises, and in the end it told me I was a highly literary motivated loner with strong verbal reasoning and acuity skills. A born script reader, in other words.

Interestingly, the tests were also good at pointing out what jobs you’re not likely to be good at, won’t enjoy doing, and are psychologically unsuited to. Imagine my surprise when all the results indicated that if there were any career from which I should be prepared to gnaw off my limbs in order to escape, it’s sales and account management. Under no account should I attempt the job I’ve been doing for over three years and expect to do it well or, indeed, to be happy. Well, I guess that confirms I’ve just been faking it all this time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Serpentes on a Shippe!

Geoffrey Chaucer recaps the latest production helmed by the gild of beekeeperes:

So whan the ship had on the ocean saylede for two houres and was on the rollinge wawes of the see, anon the lockes of the caskes breste forth and the snakes weren loosed. Right so the hoolde of the shippe was fulle of al maner of serpentes that hisse and crawl vpon the erthe, such as amphisbanae and aspides, vipers the which aren sum tyme called berardes, and bosk-addres and cheldires whos bite causeth shakynge and sodein deeth, egges-wermes and water-naddres, slow-wormes and ophites and manye othir thinges that movede serpentli. And syn thei had brethede depe of the Far-Amoun, thei were wood as if thei weren on cracke.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A personal message from the showrunner, and a cheap shot from your blogger

I got an email from Joe no-don't-tell-me-I-know-how-to-spell-it Straczynski today, personally apologising for his tardiness in releasing the most recent volume of his Babylon 5 scripts. Apparently Ron Howard’s got him chained up inside a coal bunker somewhere, and he’s got these new B5 D2DVD stories to write and produce.

Personally, I think it’s all procastination so he can forever delay publishing his scripts from the final season.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Astounding admission from ITV drama head

A few people have linked to this one already, but it’s so remarkable, I had to as well. Andy Harries, head of drama production at ITV gave a no-holds barred interview with The Guardian today (if you’re not already registered, do it now - it’s a great site). Just like Simon Shaps in April, Harries is more than willing to admit that ITV has not only screwed the pooch, but left its children open-mouthed and starving while blowing their college funds on setting up the pooch with its very own fuck-pad.

The interview begs the question that if everyone at ITV knows their output is so fucking unwatchable, what the hell have they been doing for the last five years? Fiddling while the damn network burns?

From the piece:

Harries is tasked with wooing back mainstream viewers after a terrible summer, with a line-up studded with top-class yet familiar drama. These include a refreshingly modern-looking Cracker, revived after 10 years, and Helen Mirren's final bow as an alcoholic DC Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect 7. His department's other autumn ITV offerings include the third series of Life Begins, starring Caroline Quentin, and the return of Vincent, with Ray Winstone.

When asked to pinpoint why ITV is haemorrhaging viewers, his observations are equally candid. Allen, he remarks, was "well-intentioned, but the difficulty was the business became more important than the channels".

He illustrates the Allen era lack of focus on ITV1 this way. "If you make a two-hour drama for ITV, the actual running time is 94 minutes, for Channel 4 it is 101 minutes, that's seven more minutes," he says. "It's not about more or less advertising, it is largely promotions clutter. On Channel 4 the drama plays better.

"Don't you think that the ABs [upmarket viewers] have stopped watching ITV because it has become unwatchable? Hundreds of people tell me this. There is too much clutter, and it is putting people off. ITV is so unfashionable. It doesn't have to be like Channel 4, but it should be modern. It looks like a bargain basement."

Allen presided over the move of the news to 10.30pm in 2001, which Harries says created great openings for BBC drama and terrible problems for ITV creatives, because they had to make shows that ran from 9pm to 10.30pm. "They wanted drama to run for 90 minutes. That's a very uncomfortable slot, writers find it very difficult to write for it. It's a five-act structure instead of three," he explains.

"I was very vocal about getting it back to an hour [a decision made this year]. Good shows - Murder City, Vincent, Island at War - all suffered, and this may have been a factor in some not being recommissioned."

In addition, he thinks the ITV Network Centre, which picks the shows, lacked direction, with drama catering too much for older women."Every broadcaster makes mistakes. But in the past five years ITV's compounded mistakes have added up. Drama has not delivered as well as it should or could do," he says.

He owns up to his fair share of flops. "I don't think our drama is big enough, or must-watch enough. We've had too many series, and we have lacked conviction."...

...And what about the future? "All of my success is down to long-term relationships with writers, once you have a creative partnership that is how good things come out. The television market here is developing into centres of excellence, I would like to be a centre of excellence for serious drama, single dramas and movies."

I didn’t watch the aforementioned Murder City or Island at War, but Vincent was badly hampered by having to fill an hour and a half. I hope when it returns it’s down to a tighter hour. I also hope ITV can eventually find their way back out of the rut they’ve driven themselves into, and that once Charles Allen’s replacement takes over we’ll see fewer of the network’s executives publicly slagging off their employer and making something watchable instead.

Something's got to be holding it all up

I’ve seen this going around, and since mine’s in a particularly bad way right now, you’re getting a what’s on the desk entry:
        •        Bearded, wheezing G3 iMac, with wireless ethernet bridge, currently playing Jenny Lewis, and running iTunes, Safari, TextEdit, Montage, Mail, MacJournal, NetNewsWire, Accounts and Quicksilver.
        •        Books: Guitar for Dummies, The Man in My Basement, Blood Meridian, Black Hole and Copenhagen.
        •        Notes for six-pack series challenge bible.
        •        Copy of Breach Birth I keep meaning to redraft.
        •        DVD of Between the Lines, season three.
        •        A handful of dusty, primed but unpainted Citadel miniatures (Empire Militia).
        •        Ticket stubs for Stoppard’s Rock and Roll at The Duke of York’s.
        •        A bottle of 18 year old Glenmorangie.
        •        Unpaid bills.
        •        Statement from pension company.
        •        Passport (to renew).
        •        Moleskine.
        •        Stack of index cards.
        •        Wristwatch.
        •        Keys.
        •        Wallet
        •        Chewing gum
        •        Tub of pens.
        •        Mobile phone.
        •        Home phone.
        •        Digital camera.
        •        iPod.
        •        Remote control for unknown piece of equipment.
        •        Glucosamine gel for my gammy hip.
        •        Tiny lavender cushion.
        •        Photo album.
        •        Tribal mask
        •        Issue apiece of Edge, Uncut and Broadcast.
        •        2 half-empty mugs of tea.
        •        Loose change.
        •        Lamp to see the destruction by.
God, what a state.

For sale – good runner, full service history

I spent the weekend, hunkered down and in retreat, writing my CV. I’ve been working in the same office for three and a half years, in four positions, and haven’t kept my resume up to date at all. Ending up here was an accident, as I’d been made redundant from my last job and this was the first thing I saw that I could do and needed someone ASAP.

I’ve been crazy to stick around so long. It was one of those situations that was wrong, but comfortable nevertheless. Fatal, really.

But enough is enough. I need some of my self-respect back, thanks very much. I’m here because I needed a job. Now I need something different. I need some options.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ghost town

I’ve just come back from a couple of days in London, visiting a friend. We took some walks, had some drinks, went to a couple of shows. I tried to keep score of the number of buses carrying Severance ads, and though I lost count, I’m pretty sure they had the edge over those advertising Snakes on a Plane. It was an extremely pleasant trip, made all the more pleasant by the fact that London is empty right now. This afternoon, carrying my two armfuls of luggage, I walked along Oxford Street, from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch, in a straight line.

Bliss. Except for the black London bogies I'll be picking all week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My hips are going too

I've just plucked my first grey hair. It's not right, I'm supposed to be immortal, for heaven's sake. Sage, immortal and ageless, not some moldering codger with greying temples and freakishly hairy wolfman ears.

I can't get old, I won't have it. Surely someone out there's willing to offer eternal youth for a used soul.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Apple Sunday

The second big event of the Apple calendar, WWDC, kicks off in San Francisco tomorrow. What new goodies will it bring to the faithful? New Powermacs? The long-fabled iPhone, or the long wished-for Apple tablet/PDA? How about about that touch-screen iPod?

And will we find out if Apple have finally managed to FTFF with Leopard? Read The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs (UH-OH - Apple's legal strike-force have had this blog put down. Shame on them) to pick up some hints. And before teh Steve gives his keynote tomorrow, make sure you have your WWDC bingo card close to hand.

I sorely need a new computer, so I’m hoping iMac updates are in the offing - my Blueberry DV is coming up to seven years old. It’s now on its second logic board and third hard drive, and the CRT is going green. But a computer that’s six and a half years old, still in use every day and running the latest operating system, is a testament to good engineering. My first Mac, I’ll be ever so sorry to eventually see it go.

Or should I get another laptop, instead? I love the portability provided by my Powerbook. It’s over three years old, the battery (its second) is dead and ever since I dropped it, the hard drive is no good. There’s no point replacing the faulty items, it wouldn’t cost much more to buy a new Macbook.

Might, or mobility? Oh, the soul-bending dilemmas of modern life.

Some shilling now.

Other Mac users may like to know that Montage, Mariner’s new addition to our screenwriting arsenal, recently reached Version 1, and was released for the moderate price of $149. Now, to be completely honest, I’m not quite entirely comfortable vouching for it just yet. Version 1 still has several kinks, which means I’m often working against the app rather than with it. However, most of these have been addressed with the 1.0.1 betas, and I hope when the update is released, I’ll be perfectly happy to recommend it to anybody. In the meantime, why not play with it a while? Version 1.0.1b3 can be downloaded here. The software is fully functional for thirty days, and if you like it, and want to support its development, it’s available for $99.99 (53 quid) until August 11th. Go to the online store, and enter “newera” in the promotional codes field at the bottom of the page. You can then select the download edition at the reduced price.

I’ve been testing Montage since February, and think it’s got massive potential. If you don’t like it, or have ideas on how to improve it, head to the support forums and make them known. The development team are determined to provide the best screenwriting solution on OSX, and welcome feedback.

YouTube addicts tired of seeing the site frequently pull its most entertaining material may like to know that they can now download and save videos to their Mac, iPod or PSP using the $15 (8 quid) TubeSock. My current YouTube fave is Darth Vader being a smartass, which, for some reason, just never gets old. Remix genius.

A jolly nice pre-release version of the Web Kit based browser Shiira is out in the wild. With such innovative features as Tab-Expose, Full Screen browsing and lovely HUD-style panels, this is a very attractive beast, and fast to boot.

Finally, Tables is a new spreadsheet application, which might please those of us still waiting for Apple to get their shit together and produce a proper Appleworks replacement. Only at Version 0.16, it’s already looking pretty neat.

Category: Computing and Web

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kiss my fairly used arse

How the holy hell do ISPs get away with advertising unlimited useage services, where “unlimited” has been redefined as “40GB?” And why can't they all come to some kind of agreement as to what constitute "peak" and "off-peak" hours?

Who's running this dumb-ass infrastructure anyway? The BBC don’t tell me I can only watch so many hours of colour TV every month, and whenever I switch on after that everything will be black and white.

Can anyone recommend an ISP that can offer either a truly unlimited, or up to 100GB a month, service?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fat chance.

If anyone would like to bung me a grand and a half for a new laptop, you know where to find me.

I’ll send you Christmas cards every year. And I never send anyone Christmas cards. Ever.