29 December 2007

The Heat is on!

Made it to Melbourne to see my old flat mate Lambros.

We took in the sites and sounds and bottled water shops of the city centre and surrounding subdivisions and areas, which they call suburbs here.

The nasty thing about the day was the weather. It got up to around 35C during the day with no real wind or anything. Even in the evening, coming out of shops and restaurants, it was so warm it felt like someone slapping you in the face with a warm towel. I'm used to the UK summers where it cools down enough in the evening it gets nice. Here it goes from 35C to 28C in the evening. Not good.

I think I can personally put my hand up and claim responsibility for the drought, what with all the water I drank yesterday. It's a dodgy situation, this heat, a drought and humans needing to stay lubricated.

Today apparently isn't going to be much better, as it's scheduled to get up to 36C. I guess I've got another day of squinting and headaches ahead of me. Who, in their right mind, ever claimed this was the favourable type of weather? They must be mad!!

28 December 2007

Mobile worries

When Sue and I signed up for new phone contracts, we both opted for 3 as you can use your monthly minutes abroad, as long as your on a sister 3 network. As Australia has a sister 3 network, we thought it would be quite handy for x-mas.

I've been using my 3 mobile to call the UK and Canada via a UK number and unfortunately my alloted minutes hadn't been going down as I was checking them. This, obviously, was leading my imagination to believe I would arrive back in the Uk to a bill rivalling the price of a flight to Australia.

Behold, when I woke up this morning, my alloted minutes had dropped by about 55 minutes and all seems well. A number of emails to the 3 customer help people seems to confirm this, so I am free to call the UK without incurring any international charges.

Hurrah!

27 December 2007

Flight East

Arrived this evening in Melbourne, after a 59 minute Virgin Blue flight from Adelaide.

Having done the recent epic flights, 59 minutes was nothing! Didn't even take my shoes off or need the night nurse.

Virgin Blue now has satelite TV on their flights. Oddly, you can watch it free for about 15 minutes then you have to pay $5 for the rest of the flight. Good if you're flying more than 59 minutes!

During the free preview, I managed to catch a classic Arsenal match between the Gunners and Southampton. Of course, true to form, Soton lost 4-1 with LeTissier pulling out the solo Saints goal. Tickled me that I could be so far away and still feel so close to home.

Lambros met me at the airport in his much talked about over the years white Mazda 323.

There were loads of people mingling at the gate waiting for loved ones (a real oddity for me as I usually ... well always travel international and that would be a no-no!) and I was a bit concerned that I might have sailed past the guy. Not to fear, he was waiting for me near the front door.

We've got plenty of fun in store for the next few days, having consumed a couple of beers (Coopers, naturally) and a souvlaki already tonight!

Hoping to catch a Melbourne Victory football match but I have my suspicions this trip doesn't coincide with a home game.

22 December 2007

In Oz (incorporating my frying adventure)

We made it to Oz last Wednesday and have a nice relaxing time since we've arrived.

We went down and stayed at this little fishing town called Kingston which is making it self over as a tourist attraction. It's a stone's throw from another town called Robe.

We went for lunch in Robe at this "Seafood restaurant" which got the old taste buds tingling before we even got out of the car. I love fish and seafood and all that. To my dismay, the Aussie use of the word seafood restaurant apparently means chippie to us Brits. You could have seafood cooked one way - deep fried.

Choking back the tears, I ordered a spicy chicken wrap, expecting succulent bits of nice chicken. I got deep fried KFC style chunks of chicken. Not my day.

Later we went out for a pub meal. About the only non-fried thing on the menu was a Caesar salad which I duly ordered, only to be told it was a lunch only thing (apparently no one wants a non-fried meal for dinner). I then ordered the salt and pepper prawns, and in my ignorance was delivered a plate of breaded deep fried crustaceans.

Is it so hard to grill or BBQ a nice piece of fish? What is the fascination with the deep fryer?

The other meal we had was steak. Fair enough. It came on a bed of chips with a baked potato. The veggie table then had a 3rd type of potato if you weren't carbed up enough already.

I don't actually ever remember anyone waxing poetically about Aussie cuisine, and the only remembrance is the old "shrimp on the barbie". Maybe I can amend that to "shrimp in the fryer".

20 December 2007

Coffee in Oz

We're currently in Oz, visiting Sue's friends and family for Chrimbo.

It's an oddly warm time of the year, and every now and then a carol or a Christmas light will remind you what time of the year it is.

We just got back today from visiting friends down south in the fishing towns of Kingston and Robe.

Whilst there, I stumbled across this place called Mahalia Coffee. It's like Monmouth in London, in that they do their own roasting. According to their pamphlet, they send the roasted product across most of the country, either for retail sale or by the cup. I bought a bag of Australian Bundja Double Pass at around $18 for 250g (spot the guy on holiday!!!) Figured if you've come this way, why buy what you can get anywhere else.

In an ice cream shop in Robe, they were selling Robe Rock as confection. That just tickled me pink as I imagined oriental people describing it to a police officer.

26 November 2007

Rooftop Illnesses

You know when you have something wrong with you and you automatically fear the worst?

I did a search on Google for my symptoms today and it looks like I don't have neck cancer, which is what I thought I had. Turns out it may be shingles, or adult chickenpox (according to the symptoms and the rather graphic images). Apparently you can only get it if you've had chickenpox, so check on that one.

I read the wikipedia entry as well as webmed.com (I think) and from what I can tell I won't die, but I might be contagious, so I guess it's a good time to FINALLY register with a local doctor. This week's gonna be fun!

16 November 2007

Oink RIP

Ok ok, I know the news is about a month old, but I do miss the old piggy. That's not really the point of this post though. Since the demise of the pink palace (or actually, slightly before I think), I'd started getting into the phenomenon known as the mp3blog. This is basically where people offer tunes to download to backup a bit of editorial copy they've written.

So, for instance, if I was waxing poetic about a new remix of Duran Duran's latest single "Falling Down", to punctuate my musings I'd post a link to the mp3. Some of the new versions of music players actually allow you to subscribe to these blogs and scrape the tunes from them (ok, I mean Winamp 5.5).

Now my forte is currently 80s remixes that are harder to find than duck's teeth. Most of the collections around take the popular stuff, sure, but no hits collection will give you 9 mixes of a track, or the b-side or the b-side remix or the promo only remixes. This used to be where Oink excelled and now I'm happy to say that apart from the stuff I'm looking for, I've actually discovered a few new mixes of tracks I didn't know about and am actively searching out new artists when I pop into HMV.

21 October 2007

Getting it out there!

I've found this amazing web site called Music Nerds.com where you can write reviews of album with track by track commentaries and they'll actually pay you for you contributions! The amount is not much, but if ads on your page are clicked on, you get more.

Anyway, I've written two so far - one for Weird Al's "UHF" and one for Pet Shop Boys' "Actually". I posted the Weird Al one to Digg and just got an email from Music Nerds that it also appeared on Fark, which is just awesome.

So I'm going to write a few more, submit a few more and hopefully have a fun time talking about the music I love. If I make a few bob in the process, well that's just dandy!

18 October 2007

Can't stop the Fopp!

Walking through Covent Garden today, I was over the moon when I discovered Fopp has reopened. Rumours of HMV having difficulty with landlords, etc. have proven to be unfounded and the best record shop in town is back in business.

Can't wait to devote a nice lunch time to perusing the DVDs, books and CDs and coming away with a few winners.

05 October 2007

It's ain't easy being green

Trying my darndest being a greenie, as I want a planet for my kids to grow up on.

Everywhere I look it just depresses me how much waste there is and how no one seems to care. At work, everyone prints EVERY THING out! Talk about your horrendous waste there.

Then there's the kettle situation. I saw a great ad years ago that said you can really reduce the electricity you use if you just boil the water you need for your drink. Every time I'm in the kitchen some "Good Samaritan" is busy boiling away two full kettles for no one. Next person comes in for a cuppa and reboils BOTH full kettles.

Out and about, all the bins near work are full of easily and OBVIOUSLY recyclable materials - paper, paper, paper, plastic bottles, etc. Why are these not being dealt with properly? I read about a guy in Ottawa actually getting busted for recycling glass and other materials in peoples' trash. It should be them getting busted for not-recycling, not the homeless man trying to make 10c/bottle and saving the planet from us.

I just wonder if we, as humans, should actually be here. We're turning this planet in to our own private rubbish tip and not a lot of people seem to care. It's the whole "not my problem" and "someone else will deal with it" situation. I don't think so and the next few years will prove me right.

04 October 2007

What year is this?

I got a newsletter from Ticketmaster in my email and have to question what year it actually is.

Lead off news is tickets for Buzzcocks go onsale soon. Not content with them? How about Teenage Fanclub or Spice Girls.

Man alive. I guess it proves the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Actually I think it proves how out of touch with reality record labels are becoming that people are still flocking to bands who broke up YEARS ago!

I can't see bands like Hear'Say selling out their 30th anniversary shows in 38 seconds for some reason.

01 October 2007

Radiohead's new pay what you want album

I know you need a fan base before you can go it alone, but I'm really enjoying Radiohead's new attitude, now they're free of the shackles of EMI (so would argue it was those shackles that allowed them to get the place they are today).

Their new album In Rainbows is getting set for release either on 2x12" vinyl/2xCD or download. The vinyl/CD box is quite pricey, but comes with LOADS of stuff. The intriguing option though is the download.

As the band are basically label free, they can do what they want and what they want is to offer the album for download on a pay what you want basis. Essentially, you can get the new album, DRM-free for free (if you want to be really mean).

Canadian musician Jane Sibbery did this a couple of years ago and found that given the option of setting your own price, people actually did.

I have to say that 99p/c/whatever a track is a bit steep, and I enjoy picking up the odd CD at Virgin or HMV for £4.99, and would be comfortable paying that. Why CDs were ever £15 is way beyond me.

I'm intruged enough by the new Radiohead proposition that come 10 October, I'll be over their site downloading it and giving them what I deem a proper amount of coin for an album.

Link: RadioheadLP7.com

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Now playing: Depeche Mode - Flexible (Remixed Extended)
via FoxyTunes

26 September 2007

Death

One of the crappy things about getting old is that your friends start dying off. When you hit around 70-80, you start to look like last man standing. This I've seen first hand from my grandparents.

There's a crappy step in between that I forgot about until recently - when your mates' parents start dropping off. C's dad died in 99, R's dad died back in 2001, and now F's mum last week and I just found out about L's dad today.

I'm always in shock when this happens, as a) it's a crappy thing to happen to my mates, b) I knew their folks and it's a loss and c) it drums home that it could happen to me (or you).

The most shocking thing I think is that I've kinda prepared myself to be the Last Man StandingTM when I'm 84, but this death of a mates' parent thing sorta sideswiped me.

Preparation is all well and true I guess for the expected, you just gotta handle the curve balls when life throws them at you.

25 September 2007

Hockey Night In ... England??

When I moved back to the UK in 2000, I wanted to re-embrace my heritage and discard all that was North American. How foolish. Britain in the naughties is more American that probably even Canada now.

Having shed that idea, I decided not to turn my back on several decades of Canadian upbringing and actually relish the things that I held dear to myself over the years. This went from music - like Platinum Blonde, Pursuit of Happiness, Chalk Circle, etc. to Tim Horton's coffee and even hockey. I used to be a mad hockey fan, watching Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday on a small 10" black and white telly in the family room.

It was a colliding of lives when the NHL announced that for the first time ever, two of their teams would play regular season games outside of North America. Where oh where would they go? To a hockey loving, NHL feeding country like Sweden or Germany or even Russia? No. They're playing in England, the country where the word hockey evokes images of girls in skirts and curly sticks. To be more precise, they're playing at what used to be called the Millennium Dome.

The two teams involved are both West Coasters - the LA Kings and the Anaheim Ducks (nee Mighty Ducks). The Ducks just won the Stanley Cup in June, so we get to arguably see the best hockey team in North America.

I'm pretty psyched, a lot more so than I would have been in 2000.

Goes to show time doesn't just heal all wounds, it also makes you grow up.
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Now playing: The Pursuit Of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now
via FoxyTunes

20 September 2007

Morosey

Sometimes when the demons aren't taking up all my thoughts, I wonder why we are here and what the point of it all is.

Bear with me.

Everyone know that global warming, climate change and an incredibly dumbfounded apathy on most people's behalf is going to turn this planet into Venus' SLIGHTLY cooler neighbour sooner than later. The fact is I feel my hands are tied and any changes I try to make are a drop in the bucket when colleagues leave PCs on for extended periods, the rubbish bins in parks are full or recyclables and supermarkets just over package like crazy. Still I plod on.

Also entering my consciousness is a worry that the economy is eating itself from the inside. In another generation or so, people will wonder why there was ever a high street or shopping precinct when everything is either downloadable or purchasable off the internet. This came roaring home during a rather limp walk around Virgin Megastore today. There's nothing inspiring there, no "wow! gotta have it". There's used to be. All the time. Now everything's moving to the internet and these shops on life support limp on, blissfully unaware that their time is almost up.

The thing that got in a funky mood today was an article in the The Ecologist magazine about soft drinks and bottled water. Basically, whatever goes in my mouth is going to kill me. From sweeteners like Aspartame (which breaks down into some amazingly carcinogenic ooze) and Sucralose (which is better, just) to the fact that reusing plastic water bottles (you know, recycling the home way) is liable to get you ingesting all sorts of evil chemicals that were present in the making of the plastic bottles.

Here I thought the do not reuse warning was a sly attempt at bottled water people to just get you to buy more bottles. I wonder, as I reuse the same bottle about 4 times a day at work, what the option is. I guess pint glasses.

Stopping to wonder why I get out of bed sometimes, I guess the only solace is that as much as I try to better myself, I am slowly killing myself.

11 September 2007

What's the story, mourning tory

I originally became a Tory because I believed their core principals - laissez faire economics, small government, lower taxes, let the market sort itself out, etc. etc.

It was with a stunned and dropped jaw that I was reading the Times today where the Tories, under David Cameron, want to impose more legislation and taxes onto shops and stores, infringing on their core beliefs all the way to the bank.

"Firmly committing the Conservatives to raising taxes..."

The first headline grabber was the imposition and creation of a car park tax for large out of town supermarkets. Tories and tax creation do not go hand in hand - EVER! Then there was public scolding of shops like Tesco selling goods below cost. If they're taking a drink every time they sell a product, that's their bottom line and their problem.

I know it impacts on the little guy and his ability to shift product, but the more specialised shops will always come out trumps over the shop that has a spotty 16-year old as the most knowledgeable person in the place.

Having said that, society today doesn't cater much for the person who can't buy all their needs at one shop. We don't have time to go to the bakery for our bread, the butcher for our meat, the green grocer for our veg. Those of us who strive to get home to our families before 8pm are already having a hard enough time of it.

"The Tories are at sixes and sevens on tax."

We've suffered years of Labour's regime, promising us a better place, yet raising taxes each and every year (with not a lot to show - better hospitals, lower crime, better road conditions? Nope).

The only light at the end of the tunnel has been the intrinsic Tory policies. Sadly, with Labour shifting more to the right, it looks like the Tories have shifted a bit too far to the left.

Times Link

10 September 2007

Spam as real email?

Perusing the spam folder in my gmail account, I couldn't help but wonder what life would be like if those 650 emails were actually legit.

I think I would have quit my job ages ago, as I've been offered free houses on most continents, luxury cars and loads of get rich quick schemes, mostly from Nigerians.

Who would I spend my time with? Well, as I'd be hung like a horse and gagging for it ALL THE TIME (thanks to what seems like an unending supply of viagra), I would apparently have an unending supply of hotties who are also continually gagging for it to choose from.

Odd that most of the spam plays upon most of the seven sins - avarice, lust, vanity, and most importantly sloth. Who wants to work for a new home or that new CD when you can win a lottery or a luxury island for nothing? Get everything you ever wanted and the only movement required is that of the mouse button.

Nope. I think I'll keep the spam right where it belongs, even if "Paris Hilton is hot for me right now".

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Now playing: John Taylor - I Do What I Do (Theme For 9 1/2 Weeks) (7'' Version)
via FoxyTunes

22 August 2007

Priority shift

For most of my adult life (and I classify that as the years I've had my own money, whether pocket money or from a job), I've been a collector. As a collector, that inherently means you NEVER part with anything.

Now when I say I'm a collector, it's not that sad type that doesn't part with anything. I've thrown out the usual stuff - burger wrappers, limited edition coke tins, etc. It's just the collectible stuff that's stayed with me - records, comics, CDs, limited edition board games, etc.

Now I've hit my mid-30s ... and well, for a few years now... it's become more imperative to me to have a clutter-free existence, and this has meant parting with a large number of "things" I've collected over the years.

Why?

The basic answer is a lot of the stuff I don't use any more. I haven't hooked up a turntable for over 7 years, so why keep a garage full of vinyl - even if the collection is chock full of rare white label 12"s and promos? Likewise, there's also a dearth of stuff I look at and scratch my head? Who the hell ever thought it was wise to buy the d├ębut Right Said Fred album? Who?

As I get older my priorities have changed I guess. I used to pride myself on a 400-strong DVD collection of which I never watched. Now I just rent the DVDs I want to watch from Tesco. Sitting in front of the telly with the rented DVD looking at my wall of DVDs does make me wonder what I was thinking, why my wallet didn't stop me and how I can offload discs that cost me around a tenner each and are now being given away free on Sunday newspapers.

I think the age of being amazed by that great find in the used record shop is now firmly a thing of the past, but it was fun while it lasted and I've got the crates of vinyl, the boxes of DVDs and the plastic-wrapped comics to prove it.

Now I just need to offload.

29 June 2007

Another Fopp Bites the Dust

It's with sadness and dismay that I read today that Fopp, the cool funky CD, DVD and book retailer has bitten the dust.

I was only shopping their earlier this week and actually have that CD in my CD player.

Having scoured the web for info about the chain's demise (supermarkets and the Internet, as every other CD retailer is claiming), I came across an article that brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.

Once upon a time there was a magical land called Berwick Street, Soho. It was here that a music nerd like myself could spend (waste) and entire day scouring racks of CDs, singles, promos, rarities, 12"ers, etc. in the hopes of finding that elusive release you were after, or better yet - something you didn't know existed.

As the road was a mecca for muso geek, it was lined, not with gold but with used record shops. From Mr CD to Reckless, Sister Ray to Selectadisc - these were names to be admired, names which drew Pavlovian responses from the people they wanted as customers.

Sadly, as with many other music retailers, the buyers have stopped coming, and more importantly, the interesting, the promo and the rare are all drying up as well. Why pay £40 for one exclusive remix or b-side that was only released on a green vinyl 7" in Latvia, when you can pay 79p for the track at iTunes?

The collectability and rarity was part and parcel of spending hours and hours in these treasure troves.

Not only have the physical stores closed, the quality staff, all knowledgeable, many tattooed and even more in need a decent meal or bath will all be gone as well. No longer can you shoot the breeze discussing an elusive 12" single you're after or the amazing gig at the Rainbow or Marquee club that was only available on CD in a limited number, and thus demands the £300 price tag.

There may not be a whole way of live that's become extinct, but it's close. The lifestyle and geeky nature captured so eloquently by Nick Hornby in High Fidelity is a pleasure the kids of today will never now.

It saddens me deeply.

28 May 2007

Back in the great white north

so it's been just over 24 hours since we're arrived in the Great White North and I've already drunk more beer and bought more DVDs than the last month combined.

Off to Sarnia tomorrow to visit old haunts and old mates and eat and drink more the ensure that NONE of my clothes fit anymore. Never fun!

I get pings when I come back of what I gave up when I moved back to the UK, but there's just something underlining existence here that just rings wrong, like everyone's living in a Theme Park or something. There's something that's just too fake. Maybe it's the ludicrous size of the houses or the wide roads or the Canadian accent that I do find grating sometimes.

I dunno.

I love this country and the start it gave me in life, but I do wonder if I could ever move back. Sure there's space and things are cheap, but some of the stuff I'd be giving up is actually quite entwined in my person now.

Too heavy for this time of night. I need to sleep to shake off this jetlag.

25 May 2007

Pay Day

I don't know why it bemuses me so, but today is pay day (well in lieu of tomorrow which is a Saturday). It's the first time I haven't received an AOL pay packet in over 6 years and it feels both fantastic (as the amount is more) and odd (as it's not from AOL).

To ease me into the new world of non-AOL pay, I did receive my final PubOps oncall pay from AOL today as well, so two pay cheques this month. Just in time for holidays too.

Does it get any better than that?

23 May 2007

Almost time for holidays!

I've been at the new job now for almost three weeks, so naturally it's time for a holiday!

Fly out on Saturday with Sue and cousin Ben and friend Tina for our two-week (one fortnight) Canadian adventure.

Looking forward to it. It can be quite stressful starting a new job and the propect of taking some time off just as I start has been the light at the end of the stress tunnel.

Fun times ahead as we relax, sleep in, drink beers and frolic in a completely different time zone.

08 May 2007

Something Fruity

One of the nice things about starting a new job in a new area of town is checking out all the area has to offer - where's the best pub, where to go for lunch, where can I get postage stamps, is there a newsagent nearby, etc.

Having moved to Holborn work-wise, the area is besieged by fruit and veg vendors at lunchtime running their wares from a market stall.

Last week, with much gusto, I took them up on their offer of healthy grub only to have the hardest banana known to man (it COULD have been used as a weapon), the soggiest, pappiest apples ever and asparagus that was actually mouldy.

This week, with must less gusto and much more trepidation, I visited Mr. Fruit Man and purchased some raspberries and apples (5 for £1, class!)

So far, resounding joy from my £2 outlay! The razzies were actually really sweet (and not mouldy - I was expecting that) and the apples are actually rock hard as they should be.

My faith in the small businessman is restored.

03 May 2007

Day 4 at the new job

Well I feel like Hannibal Smith today. It all seems to be coming together, so I love it! (cue smarmy cigar chomping activity).

I'm still getting my head around almost everything, but I've been meeting with people in different departments, been given assignments and have ALMOST got this commuting thing licked. The route home is almost solved, but the route to work needs some ... work.

Today is the first production day I've been involved with and it's quite interesting to see the machinations of getting an international journal of repute published (Toronto Sun notwithstanding).

01 May 2007

Started in my "pastures new"

After a long seven week notice period and a week off for...well, I took a week off and don't need a reason after six years... I finally started my new employment yesterday at Economist.com

Still trying to come to grips with EVERYTHING, as one can imagine. From the new corporate environment, to the intricacies of the job and the local haunts - from coffee to lunch. It's all important.

As far as the job goes, the title Producer can mean soooo many things. You ask someone in the theatre, or a musician or even me, and you'll get loads of different answers. I'm trying to figure out which hat from the producer's pandora's box I'll be wearing most. From the first 10 or so hours of work, it looks like I'll be mostly wearing the Project Manager / Documenter of what needs to happen hat, which is cool and a nice change from the Coding Monkey hat I wore at AOL for the last year.

More later.

28 April 2007

Vista sista!

After many months of waiting, I've finally got my "free" Vista upgrade! Only cost me £12! Not too bad for free.

Now I get to spend the next Four Hours (according to the installer) setting it up. Not all my apps will work (or so it promises) and there's loads of updates to do, but I should have a working version of Vista Home Premium by days end.

07 March 2007

Nouveau Jobbo.

Having put my CV up on Monster over X-Mas, I was uncertain whether my unique skill set garnered from too many years at AOL would actually make me wanted in the greater job market.

In hindsight, I need not have worried. Since that fateful day in December, I have been inundated with phone calls from a myriad of recruitment firms offering me interviews with companies all over London.

I've been to a couple of interviews, turned down a couple of position, and said no to contract work (I like being an employee and having benefits).

After many fake doctor appointments and illnesses, I have finally decided - after much trepidation - to make one of the new positions I have interviewed for.

As of yesterday, I am no longer an employee of AOL UK, I am "working my notice period". I should start my new job, as Web Producer at The Economist in late April / early May. Hurrah. A new job at quite the prestigious publication.

After six years - as of yesterday - at AOL, the scales are finally falling from my eyes. I haven't been treated well here. HR are a joke and are interested more in keeping the company happy than any HUMAN relations. I've learned a lot, but mostly by accident and on my own dime. No, I don't think I'll be sad to see the back of this place. Only regret I didn't get in the last round of redundancies. Still, the falling scales are invaluable, I could have been here doing this job at 50 and wondering where my life had gone.

25 February 2007

New PC. Done.

This weekend, I finally dropped all pretenses of being an uber computer geek and bought myself a fully boxed, put together, plugin and go computer. AND to rub salt in my cool quotient wounds, I bought it from PC World.

Is anyone still there or are you all mourning the death of what made me me? I know I am, a little bit.

The PC is a kicking machine, shuts down in no time, has two processors (which must be good, right?)

To claw back any credibility, I did get it for a good deal, and bought just the base unit, so I didn't get suckered into any of those low-rent monitors PC World try and hawk. How can they sell top spec PCs and then top it off with monitors that don't even have DVI (ah... feel that? my inner geek is returning!)

It's nice to finally have a copy of Windows that the WGA agrees with and I've got a legit copy of Vista on it's way too. Oh, and if you haven't experienced Windows Media Centre Edition, what are you waiting for? It's the missing link, dragging the PC into more of a living room machine. Great for all your MP3s and video you may have acquired from the web.

Now the unenviable task of rebuilding my old PC on the new one begins. Sort of like rebuilding Pompeii after Vesuvius. Do I bother?

05 February 2007

What's that smell?

I was on the train today back from Victoria and was reading Canada Post, the free rag for Canadians living in the UK.

Most of it is HIDEOUSLY out of date, but there was a brief article on Sarnia and some oil fire that had been burning. They've decided to let it run its course and all that, but it got me thinking back to - of all things - the horrid, horrid smell of Sarnia's Chemical Valley. The ripe stink of oil and plastic and all those oil-based products still haunts my olfactory senses to this day.

In fact, while I was reading the article on the train, my memory obviously kicked into overdrive and delivered a remembered dose of the stink to my nose. Man it reeks!

To add the ironic level to this event, I was hanging with my Sarnia crony Fraser today, discussing places to take my wife when we visit (she has not had to pleasure of a Sarnia trip yet). His overwhelming "must see" was the stink of Chemical Valley... then chips under the bridge, Ice Cream Galore, over to the States, etc, etc.

Weird how life works some times.

05 January 2007

New PC

After DECADES of being what in the trade is known as a "homebuilder", I've decided that I finally want to buy myself a new PC that someone else built. I want the OS already there, I want the hard drive run through, the memory compatible with the video card - all that!

In my hunt for this elusive beast, I've realised that one of the things I was trying to avoid - the INCREDIBLE amount of research needed to acquire the perfect machine - is just as intense in the pre-built market as it is in the home build market, maybe more so.

When I was building my own machines, I could scrimp here or spend stupidly there, opting for a terrabyte of storage for the sake of a slower CPU. What I've discovered in the pre-built market is "nothing's free". If that amazing machine is cheap, look under the hood, the parts will be too. On board graphics that don't allow DVI, or an LCD screen that's analogue only.

It's all a huge headache, but a fun one as it's dumping me in the deep end of the market and I'm having to learn to swim, now with added sharks (in the form of dodgy spec machines).

I'll keep you posted and hopefully post (soon) from the new 8th wonder of the world!