Monthly Archives: October 2006

Sorrento Photos Up On Flickr

As promised, as if it was something to look forward to, I’ve put the photos from Sorrento and thereabout up on Flickr.

I can’t access Flickr from work (‘Personal Network Storage and Backup’ – thanks a bunch) so I’ll put the full link in later. However, if you go to my photo page and click on the ‘Sorrento 2006’ set, you’ll see them all. I’ve geocoded them as well, so you can view the photos on a map, corresponding to where they were taken.

Maestro – The New Cash?

I’m getting a bit irritated by the posters everywhere proclaiming Maestro debit cards as “The New Cash”, dismissing cash as being ‘so over’. They say that “The Penny has Dropped” and various other oh-so-witty phrases it took some creatives several days to come up with.

What I want to know is this: does this mean I can use my debit card everywhere I usually use cash? Like pubs, newspaper stalls, or corner shops for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread?

And the answer of course is NO. Cash is not dead, despite it’s many irritations, like frayed pockets, jam jars full of shrapnel, and E Coli.

Many pubs will accept cards these days, but it’s not the case everywhere, and the ones that do are often shiny shitholes like ‘Wetherspoons’ or ‘All Bar One’s. Newspaper stands won’t take cards, although they don’t take much in the way of cash these days either, due to the fact that you can get quality news journalism for free in the shape of London Lite (sic) or theannoyinglytitledalllowercaselondonpaper (although these are quite rare, and you do need to walk around London quite a bit before you can manage to track down a copy).

Cards need technology and electricity to work, much like electronic books, or ‘eBooks’ (isn’t this InterCapping getting annoying as well?). Cash works during power cuts, as do paper books. Neither of them will be ‘over’ for a long time.

BMW Theory

In lieu of a proper blog post, here is a theory or rule I have been developing.

As all right-thinking people know, all BMWs are driven by wankers.

The BMW M5 and M3 are BMW 5-series and 3-series which have been tweaked and made all sporty: they are a special kind of BMW. It therefore stands to reason that they are driven by a special kind of wanker.

By the same token, the BMW X5 is a 4-wheel-drive SUV kind of BMW. The ‘X’, I think, stands for ‘Xtreme’. Therefore, it’s a pretty good bet that if you see a BMW X5, it is being driven by an extreme wanker.

That is the sum total of my theory, and I am sorry to have wasted your time.

Disclosure: I know, or am related to, people that drive BMWs. Sorry, you know how it is. But I’m sure they would agree with the X5 theory.

Super Tech World Cyber Review Zone!

Review: Visual Land VL-335 MP3 player/projectile

Mairi’s Dad bought this in one of his eBay frenzies. He didn’t like it, and I didn’t have an iPod at the time, so I nicked it and tried it for a while.

It came in a nice satin-lined box with magnetic closure, little plastic window, and dodgy design on lid – not bad so far. When I opened the box, I found the player itself was a nice size and weight, with a rubbery coating which could be peeled off with effort. I didn’t much care for the colour, but I guess thieves can’t be picky.

I had a quick flip through the User Guide, just enough to see that you could just stick it in a USB port and it would appear as a drive. Drag’n’drop your MP3s or WMAs, and you’re good to go. Unfortunately it was written in such impenetrable sino-pidgin-koringrish, that I had to give up. Still, I knew what I needed to know. It had a slide-out USB connector, which was good, and the built-in replaceable rechargeable battery was charged through the USB. A good start.

Then came the first problem. The thing used USB 1.1, which was designed in conjunction with Andrex and PG tips. During the extremely slow transfer process, go to the loo or have a cup of tea. Or put the kettle on, then go to the loo, and then make a cup of tea. After you’ve washed your hands, of course. And flushed.

Once I had some tracks transferred (some old Aphex Twin and Hawkwind, if you must know) I experimented with the lush user experience (this is sarcasm).

First off, there was no shuffle feature. You will listen to the tracks in order! Then when I switched the player off, it went back to the beginning of the first track. No storage of your position in the memory, which means when I turned it back on, I had to navigate to the track I was playing before. And then I come across the next, and to my mind the worst, problem.

There was a 1-second lag between button presses, and no buffering.

Think of your CD player. When you want to listen to track 10 on a CD, you put the CD in, close the drawer, and press the ‘next’ button 10 times quickly, and then the Play button, knowing that the player will remember the presses and do what you want, like so:
next-next-next-next-next-next-next-next-next-next-PLAY. And away you go!

On this piece of crap (yeah, I said it) though, if you want to listen to the 10th track, you have to press the ‘next track’ button, wait a second for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react,
then press it again, wait for it to react, and then you’re there.
Both at track 10 and your train destination (ho ho).

Just to add insult to injury, it had a 2.5mm headphone jack for that lovely ‘can’t use normal headphones without an adaptor‘ feeling.

And finally, did I mention it had an FM radio? No, because while one was included, it wasn’t built in. It was a separate button-cell-powered FM tuner on an awkward pendant neckband arrangement, mixed in with the supplied crappy earbuds for extra entanglement.

The VL-335 is no longer available, as far as I can tell, but Amazon are selling the VL-340A, which has a wonderful product description which includes the line, “Features of this MP3 player go above and beyond the regular requirements of inferior players”, which means, “This MP3 Player is better than MP3 Players which are not as good as this one”. And that’s the best you can say about it.

I gave it back.

Another Monkey Meet

Met up with the Monkeyfilter peeps posse crew people last Monday, because a certain middleclasstool was visiting Europe on a Grand Tour. Another great time, meeting new people, having some beers and laughs.

The Bedford-raised Plegmund was kind enough to take some extra flattering photos. As you can see, the double chin is coming on well. Nice shirt too, style-king, jeez.

Video Highlights

Sorry about the delay with this, but here is a video with highlights of Scriptless Wonder.

Take a look! It was shot by a couple of ladies who came along from the UK Theatre Network, and by their own admission it’s pretty poor. But it gives you a good idea of the kind of lunacy that took place during the shows.

I have to say there’s not much of me in it, but I was only the compere after all. You can hear me introducing the illustrious performers, but that’s it. Just a taste.