Monday, 28 February 2011

That was the weekend that was

... and now I'm on holiday for a whole week ! Yipeee !

Should I show such gladness being off work for a week ? It's just nice to have a break in the exercise of pushing water uphill with a fork. So nice in fact, that despite a relatively late night while I try to sort something out with Celtx I am up with the lark. When I say lark, I'm up with the alarm clock/radio and the WAKE UP ! set on my Blackberry.

I even left the window open in my bedroom last night. How cool is that ? When I say cool, I don't mean that I was cold, just that the idea of fresh air, and the soothing, but distant sound of the M27 (the motorway, not my drama company).

What's this thing that you've been trying to sort our with Celtx, I hear you say ? Surely Celtx is so easy to install it doesn't take a late night session to get it to work.

Well, no, it doesn't. What I was trying to do, was see if I could get Celtx to run out of Dropbox (service that shares across all your installed computer the contents of that folder - an introduction to cloud computing). Does it work ? No.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The iMac cometh

Never, ever, ever, go shopping with your daughter, and whilst standing in an electrical shop say to the assistant that offers to help you that you are 'just dreaming'. It's pretty much an invitation for them to tell you how you don't need to dream with their 6 months interest free option.. blah, blah, blah, blah.

To give him his due, he was very helpful, but I did kind of get the idea that he didn't entirely know what he was talking about. Not only did he try to tell me that the iMac I was looking at didn't come with a wireless keyboard or magic mouse, but when comparing payment plans he showed me a lovely chart for a repayment amount that was different to the value of the machine, and an APR that was a good 10% lower than the one quoted on the details. 

I have been dreaming about getting a new computer ever since my Mac Mini died last year. It's never seemed like a sensible thing to do when I was trying to buy the flat, and then move. I'm wouldn't exactly call it sensible now, but....

Well, I work hard, I deserve it. Anyway, I'm not going to justify myself to you, who do you think you are, my mother ?

So many choices. iMac, Macbook, Macbook Pro. Do I get in a shop on 6 month interest free, knowing full well I am not going to be able to raise the rest of the money by the end of the 6 months, so will get stung with loads of interest (which is racked up from the day you purchase the machine) ? Do I go for the option of paying about £500 now, and then paying a monthly contract fee with a mobile network provider ? (There was an option to buy one of the laptops for about £400 less, and then pay about £41 a month to get 5gb of data - this would have made sense if I actually had that sort of money knocking around).

So I did what every responsible adult should do. No I didn't flip a coin. I came home, and rationally set out a pros and cons list for each option. It became pretty obvious that as sexy as a Macbook or Macbook Pro look, how likely was it that I was actually going to take it anywhere ? Would I not be too nervous of damaging or losing my new purchase, or even that someone would steal it. (shock horror). Laptops are cool, and er... mobile, but a desktop is actually the machine that needs replacing, and the power on the iMac is substantially more than the laptop machines. With the bigger screen the iMac is also more suited to me using it for video editing. The activity I hate so much in connection with M27 videos, but a necessary evil. With an iMac that experience would surely be less painful that it was on my poor little macmini, and definitely more so than on a windoze machine.

So that's what I did. I went and ordered (online) an iMac. The really hard bit starts now. The waiting for it to arrive.

I want it here NOW !!!!!!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Takers, please, and takers ?

Had our 2nd M27 workshop tonight. Hard core of people. By which I mean that there was only 5 of us. Now this is the same number that we had last week. It is not, though the same 5 people we had last week. Okay, there was me, and there was Clive who had been to the previous session.

This week we were joined by Becky, Terry and Nick. No Helen as she's off on a holiday. (To Egypt no less, after having to cancel her holiday to he Maldives due to being struck down with a bug. Egypt ? Is she mad ?)

We got off to a late start, and again with so few people it was a strain to get some of the improvisation games to work. Some really good and funny times though.

All set for next week ? Yes. Although I am more determined that we do less improvisation and do some workshops around the actual existing script. There is only so much improvising you can do with 5 people and without the ability to bring  / store any props to work off.

Hold the front page ?

Indefinitely ?

Last night I was watching Newsnight, with a group of representatives from the 'establishment' media (The Financial Times, The Guardian and the BBC) and someone from 'Google'. It's interesting to see this lot come somewhere in between justifying their own existence and being media naysayers.

All of this talk about online news and media killing the traditional printed press, that the rise of the 'citizen journalist' doing 'quality' hacks out of jobs. I can't see it contributing to the unemployment numbers any time soon. It has, however, shown that it provides an invaluable multiple of sources at seminal events, as shown in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Newsnight's piece included some location reporting about how a local newsagents was suffering because not so many people were having papers delivered anymore. This is a natural evolution of information exchange, in the same way that I commented recently on the demise of the posted written word. More and more people want their news there as it happens, live and in bite-size chunks that are easily consumed in the stolen moments of a busy life. Letters have been so much more effectively replaced with email for all but certain messages. Most communication just isn't that important that it needs committing to a piece of dead tree and physically dragging from one end of the country to the other, or is important enough that it can't wait the time needed to do that.

Did the press die with the advent or radio, or television ? No. Sure they would have seen a drop in circulation, as some people took advantage of the new medium, but all are still going quite strong. Truth is in 21st century society we are consuming much more information, but we are also accepting if from a variety of sources.

The internet isn't really all that new anymore, we are just exploring new ways of interfacing with it, as technology allows. Apple's Ipad has reinvigorated a previously failed market, that of the tablet pc. This old idea that your computer is this grey or white box on the side of your desk doesn't hold true any more. Our phones are now more like personal communications devices in every way, rather than just in making and receiving calls.

The industry observers, or representatives remarked that the advantage of a 'live' (as a pose to 'dead') medium like a web page or tablet pc content is that the publisher has a relationship with the reader, they can see who reads what, and for how long. This helps them understand more efficiently what stories are actually worth 'printing' and which are not. With a printed newspaper, you don't actually read all of it, you skim through it, sifting out the stuff you don't like or just don't have time to read. An attractive byline or picture will grab your attention and draw you into the article. This works the same if it's a book cover, content in a newspaper or topics on a website.

Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Paxman was trying to provoke reaction, or at least debate by asking if it was a good thing that people get a set of news items that's personal to them, as it encourages them to be increasingly more insular and self absorbed. Is this really the case ? I would agree that we all seem to live these days in our own little worlds, shutting out the physical world and people around us and absorbing ourselves in our smartphones, and blocking the interruptions with headphones. That is the bad thing, or sad thing about the use of this technology. Personally, I have stopped listening to music on my headphones on the bus because I don't like to be that cocooned form the world around me. It's also, despite whatever you may think about sound levels an irritant to the other passengers. Having said that, I am sat there either surfing content on my Blackberry or reading from my Kindle, but not all the time. There are times when I sit there, just observing the world that is passing around me, and taking in the effect of the different people that get onto and off the bus as I travel from one place to the other.

If people are disposed to be narrowminded, I don't think that technology is to blame for that personality trait. Nor would the lack of it make them any more enlightened. In the past people would perhaps polarize to prefer one paper or another, depending on their political standpoint. As much as mainstream politics doesn't recongnise it, perhaps the media just doesn't see that there isn't such a thing as a 'labour viewer/reader' or a 'Tory viewer/reader'.

Have we all discovered that we are not that different, and this is why politics seems to inhabit this grey mish-mash middle-ground ? Is it really for the publisher of any content to try and decided what I do or don't get to read or view ? Surely that's some sort of censorship, which is as unacceptable as it is unaccountable. In reality of course, what you print or show can influence opinion, if it didn't no one would spend money on advertising. Surely people need to take some personal responsibility to have an open minded view on things and not just trust one source. That is one of the beauties of the 'Citizen reporter' model. There's no censor. (There's also no editor making sure it's relevant or acceptable, or interesting. Editing is just a light version of censorship - right ?).

I've never heard someone say, 'I prefer Google to Yahoo, because that Google content is sooooo right/left wing'. They may say they prefer one or the other because of the page layout, and the responsiveness of the content. Maybe this means that instead of cheating ourselves into schoolyard style political camps, we are actually just reading the content, and judging the content on, well... the content ?

There are popularist online sources of information, and those that offer a more reasoned, rational, thought out view. This isn't something new, the printed and visual media are full of examples of both schools of thought. Always the quick and easy headline/byline/link.

There's lots of hot air about 'who controls the content'. There is, I suppose some validity to this in some areas, Apple for example are rather draconian about their content control and access to their soft and hardware. Having said that, you can still google, or yahoo search (or bing) from an iPhone. There are some programs or aps that you will never be able to get on an iPhone or iPod, but there are some things you will never see on BBC1, but that you may find on Channel 4. Does anyone only really every watch only one channel on TV ? No. They don't.

Maybe the reality lies somewhere in that media consumption and publishing is evolving as we get more used to these new technologies. What's different, is that it is the public that are leading the change, creating the groundswell. It's starting the other way around. Radio, TV & printed press, but the very nature of their respective technologies had to be driven into existence.

As for this supposed point about it doing scores of 'quality' journalists out of a job.. who is it that defines they are of quality ? If themselves, well, self praise really doesn't form any sort of recommendation. There are also scores of journalists, papers and TV channels that will propagate any old rubbish, accurate, true or otherwise that won't be missed. So if they are put out of a job by similar individuals that aren't professionals, at least we can comfort ourselves with the fact that we are not indirectly paying them for their .... rubbish.

Monday, 21 February 2011

How late finishing work ?

Not only did I manage to not run screaming from the call centre, I actually left on time. This is something of a miracle, and the week before I go on holiday too. With some focus and drive I did manage to get done some things that I need to make sure are in place before I take a break, and on a Monday too. Amazing.

I was so astounded that I managed to leave early that I forgot my hoodie and needed to go back for it.

Sadly no distractions today. I think I've been a bit of an idiot, which I guess makes a change from being a complete one.

From the great beyond, or facebook, I found out that Helen has not been able to go on her holiday as both her and her husband have been struck down with some bug. I'm hoping they get better soon, poor old Helen, doesn't really need anything else going wrong.

I'm a bit worried about the number of people that haven't said they are going to the 2nd workshop. Perhaps I am being a lazy organiser and relying on facebook to do all the work for me. Some time hitting the phones is on order tomorrow night I think. An activity I will have to squeeze in before Becky gets here for our Rocky Horror night. There will be vodka, singing... and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I am sure the sight of me doing the Timewarp whilst doing my cleaning, on Sunday night,  would have been enough to make my neighbours wonder what the hell I was up to.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Sunday, Sunday.

A  little late getting up today, made me late for picking up Chloe. Nice day. We stopped into Palmerston Road, to take advantage of the farmers market. Brought some rather delicious honey, and that staple of farmers markets, a hog roast. Yum.

A quick trip to Iceland, (the shop, not the country) to pick up some supplies, and we came back and set about preparing for dinner. Chloe had been asking me to give her some money, first to top up her mobile, and then so that she could buy a game for her Ipod. There then started the chat about how as she has so much pocket money, she can afford to buy such things herself.

£10 worth of topup a definite no. The £1.75 for the 'Plants vs Zombies' game, was something I was prepared to buy, if she did some chores. So after vacuuming her room, and the front room, running down to the shop to get some tin foil for me I let her buy it. Eventually she let me have a go.

For a nice change we had Gammon, instead of the usual roast Chicken.

As well as deciding that she wanted to move the dressing table in her room, Chloe had finally decided where it was that she wanted the cat pictures that she had been given by my mother. I'd also gotten round the changing which side the fridge door opens, so that it works better with its place in the kitchen.

After dropping Chloe back home, I came back, wasted some time before starting on cleaning the flat from top to bottom. There's only so much dust I can take. Actually the flat doesn't get that dusty, it's more a case of keeping things clear and tidy, and that nice 'just cleaned' smell I love so much. I really should get a life.

Ever since changing the opening side of the fridge door, I have struggled to still open it the old way. I guess I will get used to it, but there's something in it. Getting used to being on the other side. I think I'm being unnecessarily deep. That's just a generous way of saying I'm talking bollocks.

Suppose I just stopped making it more complicated than it is ?

Ok, so the M27 first workshop session was a rather big part of last week. I'm sure I'll get to talking about that later. Maybe before the second M27 workshop.

For me there was another big thing about last week. That was me buying a valentines card and a single red rose for someone. Not something I'd done for quite some considerable time.

Without wishing to sound like a pathetic teenager, here's how the story goes.....

This person, whom I had noticed quite some time ago, before moving to work in that area, and thought was.... Very nice.... Is someone I had somehow managed to build up some banter with, remarking often on how nice she looks and laughing and joking with her. If I'd have really stopped and thought that I might think more of her then I would been paralysed by my usual inability to speak to women. I make the Indian guy off 'The Big Bang Theory' look like an inveritable Casanova. Anyhoo. I had most definitely not even dreamed that she thought of me as anything other than 'that weird old guy with all the cheesy jokes and the very gay t-shirts'.

This changed when I partially overheard a conversation she was having with another person at work. Trying desperately not to let paranoia or wishful thinking cloud my judgement, I tried to put that 'observation' out of my mind. (Is it still an observation if it's something you hear, rather than see ?).

Anyhoo. I was determined not to let my imagination run away with itself and leave my common sense shivering in the dark all by itself. The 'other' person at work, who for the sake of communication we'll call Sarah, wouldn't tell me what was said, but did 'subtly' ask me questions about what I thought of the person she had been talking to.

I pretty much told her that she was being completely ridiculous.

So when February 14th came by, although I was expecting the usual zero interest, I had secretly hoped that on my desk when I came in that day would be a card, or something.

Needless to say, my desk was empty when I arrived at work that day. It would not be wrong to say that I was a little saddened.

Sarah, made a remark in the morning about how said person was sad not to find anything on her desk.

Now as it happened, I needed to nip to Tesco at lunchtime, as a member of our team was going on maternity leave, and I hadn't arranged for her to get a present or card. Off to Tesco I went. Feeling a bit the idiot, but at least taking comfort I wasn't one of those boyfriends or husbands who were circling the flowers and gifts areas displaying all the fear of someone about to be sentenced to death.

So I 'secretly' placed the card and red rose on her desk, while she was at lunch. I've given the quotation marks to secretly because someone in my team saw me do it, and made a very big deal of it.

When she (the recipient of the flower and card, not the one that can't keep a secret) came back from lunch, I held my breath while she noticed them, heard her someone ask her about them and her say 'yes, but they're not from my boyfriend' (oooops). Look on the bright side I thought. She wasn't crying. Or laughing. Laughing would also have not been good.

So here I am. Now nearly a week on, and just realising I have now put myself in limbo-land. I can't do anything else. It would be wrong of me to do so as she's got a boyfriend. One who works in the same place no less. A couple of people have asked me if I did it as a joke, or if I was being serious. I have skirted (if you pardon the pun) round the issue without answering - which surely people must see is in itself an admission that it's not a joke ?

What's a bloke to do ?

At the same time (ok, not at exactly the same time - but the same day) I get an e-valentines from someone who has been round a couple of times, and I've been too scared to go on a proper date with. I fear I have, despite intentions for the opposite created a situation where I can only end up hurting their feelings. I seem to manage this wherever I go.

Again. What's a boy to do ?
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Can we include pictures ?

...And I call myself a geek ? Well, ok, part-geek.

Trying to see if the attached pic on this email also gets posted. If it does you may hear the 'whooop whooop!' From where you are.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Blogging from my Blackberry ?

I've never really bothered to sit down or faff about with the setting up of blogging from my mobile.

Attempts before have not worked out, but in a strangely intuitive way I have slapped myself on the head and realised that if I can email my blogs in (normally I write them straight on the blog site. But I used to mail them in) then I can just as easily do that from my beloved BB. This blog entry represents the first attempt at that.

If it doesn't work I've just screwed up my thumbs for nothing.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

I Just can't get enough

Bad blogger. Bad. Bad Blogger.

This week has really been quite hectic. We've had most of the week out of the office at work doing some training - with the whole team, which is nice. When they weren't having a 'daily drama' they were finally getting a chance to get to know one-another and spend some time together off the phones.

Maybe part of spending time together has the inevitable result that some people annoy each other a little bit and some annoy each other a lot. This is just human nature. What was really nice to see, was that despite those 'daily dramas' everyone put things aside and just got on. I know it sounds foppish and cheesy (just like my jokes) but I really do like this bunch. They are really good people and there's lots of personality to go round, and they all have a sense of humour, which is great. The first sign that a group of people get on is that they take the piss out of their team mates.

When it wasn't handbags at dawn in the training room they were laughing, joking (oh and learning). Bless 'em.

At the end of the week we did then go out into the big wide world, that is the call centre and speak to customers. On the whole this went well, although somehow in the space of 2 hours I gained the same sort of work that I would of a Monday. Ho hum. No one said it was going to be easy did they ? (But they could have given more of a clue about how impossible it is).

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Tomorrow's the day... Mk 2

Tomorrow, is the first workshop / Improvisation session for The Fatcat And The Grafter. We are meeting at St Peters Theatre in Southsea. (Map)

Fantastically we are going to get a chance to use the theatre itself. There it is, to the left, in admittedly pixelated glory.

I'm so excited I can barely sleep. If I could sleep, I wouldn't be on the computer now, would I !

You can follow the ups and downs of the production as it gains momentum, and hopefully more of a working script, and some, er ... actors at @m27online (on twitter). We can also be joined on the facebook group.

If I keep talking about it, people will come ? Right ? When I say talk, I do mean actually in the real world. I'm not just stuck in front of a rather battle scared laptop hoping people will read my posts..... Well, ok, I am doing that, but as well as doing that I am...

OH, look, it's late. You get the point. See you there !

Monday, 14 February 2011

Ready to make a fool of myself ?

So. After not really expecting to have to force the door open to get to work today, because of the pile of cards from all those admirers... I was surprised to find.... that there were none.

Despite my bullish bravado, and disinterest. There was a part of me, no matter how small, that wished, hoped, that someone wants me.

Not to be. Alas not.

You have to give to receive, right ?

Well, perhaps. I did as it happens give a valentines day card and a flower to someone. I am not entirely sure this has had the desired result or reaction. I don't actually think I'm sure what the desired result or reaction was.

I notice a difference in how I feel at the moment. The person in question does brighten my day, and always makes me smile. It's difficult to build your impression of someone based on so little time having real conversations with someone. Work, I guess isn't the place for that. I guess, that's why they call it work.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Will you be my Valentine ?

It's February 13th. It's cold and wet outside. How the hell will the postman be able to deliver all those valentines cards ?

I've never been one for the Valentines' day thing. Only really had one person that I was madly in love with and wanted to shower with gifts. Some things work out. Some things do not.

Ho hum.

After my last blog, where I wondered if social networking sites have caused a depression in sales in the celebration cards industry, I now babble on about the flip side.

The flip side being another of those pretty much commercially created events that encourage us to spend lots of money on pieces of card or horrendously over priced flowers.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not unromantic. Actually I'd love to have someone to throw all my attention at, well someone that wanted it anyway. - after the court case I'd better not do THAT again. (I am joking, but you knew that, right ?).

Took Chloe on a walk round Foxs' forest (Hilsea Lines) today. After yesterday's brilliant sunshine, it was a bit depressing that it was so cold and wet today. Almost like the weather realised it had a target to hit of how much rain to give in a seven day period, and had buggered it up by making Saturday such a lovely day.

There's something about rain and mud that most children like. Even if it is freezing cold mud. Maybe it was the joy of trying to kick it in my direction and seeing me get all anxious about how dirty my trainers and jeans were getting. Truth be told, I was inappropriately dressed for the excursion. Fresh air, it's good for you it is.

Anyway.. wishing you a happy Valentines' day. If that's what you want. If not, piss off and put a DVD on or something.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Have we all stopped sending burthrday cards ?

A thought occurred to me today, as I placed a comment on someone's facebook wall wishing them a happy birthday. Does anyone send birthday cards anymore ?

No wonder the Post office is screwed. Not only is everyone busy emailing each other instead of committing their important (and unimportant) messages on a piece of dead tree, but they aren't feeling obliged to send birthday cards to people they barely know or like.

Perhaps this isn't the case, as I haven't seen a rash of redundancies at Birthdays or Celebrations. There are, however more and more operators jumping on the Moonpig model for personalised cards.

The point I wanted to think about was, well, apart from showing what a tight git I am, do people think any less of me for adding some carefully considered words to their facebook page instead of spending over a pound, on a card I'll probably forget to give to them anyway.

Have any of them noticed that I habitually say pretty much the same thing to each person ? IE 'Happy Birthday mate. Hope you have / had a great day !!' (The double exclamation mark is really, really important). Of course there is the other comment 'Happy Birthday. Don't do anything I wouldn't'. Which may not leave them with much of a list of things to avoid, none the less. Hardly original is it ?

Looking by the number of comments from other people, I can only assume that perhaps not all of them would have bothered to buy a birthday card before the advent of social networking. (Internet stalking).

Does this signal a greater level of emotional attachment and well wishing, made easier by the technology, or does it demonstrate the absence of real feeling in a clinical world ?

Do we devalue the sentiment by not having to pay to send it ?

All I'm bothered about is that facebook handily reminds me that it's someone's birthday so that I can write my 'standard birthday comment'.

Friday, 11 February 2011

First time out

Last night was the first night that Helen and I let lose 'The Fatcat And The Grafter' on an unsuspecting circle of friends. Quite a wide circle of friends as it turns out.

I had worried that at one point there would only be about four people, but my fears turned out to be entirely unfounded. In all there was quite the list of guests. Some very dear, old friends, maybe even some very old, dear friends.

It's clear, as we expected, that some 'trimming' is required. It is only the first draft of the script after all. What was perhaps a little more frightening, was that until about 20 minutes before Rob turned up, there wasn't a climactic scene to end the first act. There wasn't a scene 7 at all.

Helen had arrived characteristically late, and we had grabbed some quick lunch before sitting ourselves down in front of my battered computer with the tough task ahead of us to produce the all important scene we are relying on to make sure our audience come back after the interval.

Working to tight deadlines, under pressure, really does work for us. Interesting that this part of the play received at better reaction that some of the parts we had written at a more leisurely pace.

Anyway, I am still rather tired from that very late night, and rather need my beauty sleep. More later !

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Forgive me Iphone, for I have sinned....

Not that I spend a huge amount of time trawling through the Internet for ridiculous stories to blog comments about...

You can now get an app on your Iphone that allows you to make a confession. Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.

Now I know that a lot of Apple fans are pretty near to registering it as a bone fide religion but this is enough to make you, well, laugh, cry or I guess pray. As if people didn't need any more encouragement to treat their shiny apple devices like demigods.

Now, I would try and make a joke out of it, and say 'what's next, a prayer app ?'. But that wouldn't be funny, as they already did that. Three years ago.

The cheeky thing, is it's not even free. If god is supposed to me almighty, and omnipresent, then a) why would I need my Iphone to communicate with him/her/it ? b) Why has he started charging ?

Maybe, just like Sky there's a premium prayer and confession app, or you can buy extra forgiveness ? I mean, that stands to reason, men are well used to spending money when they are feeling guilty. Even when they are not sure what it is they are guilty for, they have been rather efficiently conditioned to 'buy' forgiveness. The flower and chocolate industries are pretty much built and paid for by thousands of years worth of male guilt. Fact.

Now, what about all the Blackberry or Android users out there ? Are they sentenced to eternal damnation because they chose the wrong handset manufacturer to believe in ? No parallels there then. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

When you open the doors, don't be surprised that someone walks through them..

... and so... it feels like I've actually worked a whole week, but in reality it's only been two days !

Maybe there is some sort of time contorting machine in the heart of that call centre.

Press Complaints Commission
There's this story on the BBC news website.... about how the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) has ruled that Twitter posts are effectively public information. Well fair enough, if you want something private, why would you post it onto the Internet ? Sarah Baskerville works for the Department of Transport, and was unhappy that the Daily Mail and Independent On Sunday had published her tweets relating to her going to work with a hangover.

Really ? I mean Really ? There are lots of stupid things that I may have said, or quoted, or tweeted, added to my facebook page or blogged about. I wouldn't expect any mainstream paper (and I'm being generous to describe The Daily Mail as such) to waste column inches repeating any of it. Not because I have some deluded idea that something I put out in the public domain, and have effectively relinquished my control over by doing such, but because they have surely more interesting things to print. Maybe. Maybe not.

Nevertheless, I am not an employee in a government department, but even so, surely she has to accept some responsibility to filter what she is transmitting to the world. If not, then she should set up the protections so that only certain people can see her tweets, or better still - just not tweet it in the first place ?

I am glad to see this attach of common sense by the PCC. Not that it effects me, but I have to cling on, in some vain hope that there is still common sense in this much misaligned world we live in.

If you are going to invade your own privacy, don't be offended if someone actually takes notice.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Save St Peter's !!!

There has been much to and fro, much setting of dates, and then the changing of them. This time. This. Is. It.

St Peters Theatre. Southsea.
I have now been able to secure a show date with St Peters Theatre.

The show, 'The Fatcat And The Grafter' will be on from June 29th - July 2nd 2011

We have the first read thru of part of the show on Wednesday. The clock is well and truly ticking now. By our own admissions that means that we have 19 weeks to get ready for the show. 19 weeks ! It may initially sound like a lot, but we don't actually have enough people to cast all of the roles, even assuming we are able to find the right ones for the right parts.


Well you have to start somewhere, and nothing focuses the mind like a deadline.

At the same time, there are murmurs that the space in which we want to put on the play, is facing closure. I can hardly decry that this doesn't make sense, if obviously does, on someone's spreadsheet. The value of the ground on which the building rests would be worth a pretty penny to both the council and the church (who, I understand own it). Not quite sure how the council are involved. 

I know in these trying times that any organisation, the church or council included are going to have to work hard to make sure that they get the most value for money wherever they can. Surely such a wonderful space, in the middle of an inner-city area can be made to make financial as well as community sense.

When I was a child we used to live over the road from it. At one point I even went to nursery school there. After the vandalism that was the destruction of the Portsmouth Arts Centre by the council in the 90s, I feel very strongly that this valuable space not be allowed to go the way of so many other community buildings in the city.

I've spent some time this morning, shouting and cursing at my printer. This has been due to my efforts, which in the end resulted in success, to print a couple of copies of what script we have ready for Wednesday night.

I hate printing at the best of times. Aside from the environmental lunacy of printing a set of scripts for everyone, when we know full well that both the script and the people are liable to change, much. There is also the issue that my printer is a right royal pain in the arse. It will merrily print along for a couple of pages, and then decides to chew up and ignore the next page. Rather than intelligently print the page that is messed up once it returns to normal, it just spits out a blank page and then carries on, as if nothing ever happens.

This means that printing anything more than 2 pages requires the patience of a saint and then some attention to detail as you are forced to go through whatever you are printing and list all the missed pages, and then reprint those. Hoping of course that the reprinted ones don't in themselves get chewed up.

Which of course, they do. Doesn't seem to matter what 'magic tricks' you try with the paper, or the printer itself, nothing seems to work. Magic tricks take various forms, such as :- blowing away any imaginary dust or paper fragments from inside the printer. - you blow them straight into your eye, whatever you do. Making sure you use non-recycled paper. For some reason, the printer is fussy on this point, and will stubbornly insist on having virgin paper. Flicking through the stack of paper, so that none of it is stuck together doesn't count for much either.

I printed three copies of the script, each of which had different pages missing. I condensed them down so that I had one complete script, and then set about printing the missing pages for the two remaining copies.

What a pain. Is it too much to ask that your printer, well, prints things ?

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Walk like an Egyptian ?

I've made some blog entries this week, and not mentioned, not even once all the stuff that's happening in Egypt. Should I ?

Well I guess there's no serious obligation on my part, but it's a very momentous pimple on the teenage like spotty face of history.

Egyptian uprising... (photo from CNN's website)
The peoples of Egypt have collectively had enough of the corruption or accountability in a regime that has been led by the same man for the last 30 years (President Hosni Mubarak).

The western press are showing us all the images of what was seemingly at one point a 'velvet' revolution, but that has steadily escalated as the regime enlists fists of those faithful to it. Thankfully the army have quite sensibly stayed out of it. The generals seem to back Mubarak, but the actual soldiers on the street are not motivated to start firing on their countrymen and women. No images of students being shot in front of a tank on international television then.

The people want freedom, self determination. They seem to want that holy grail of things, democracy. Good for them. As governments around the world try increasingly to tread a fine line between not supporting anybody and condoning any actions against the people of Egypt. Warm cooing words of encouragement that violence not be used against the citizens, that peaceful protest continue, and be allowed to do so.

The Egyptian government had initially cut off the mobile phone network, and the internet. Although they have now turned the internet back on, it is a reminder that any and all of our freedoms can be taken away just as easily. Maybe not as symbolically as the flicking of a switch, but the government here has similar powers. So before you all rush out and buy CB radios, lets calm things back down a bit.

What I was increasingly annoyed about was the mumbling sentiments of those on BBC Questiontime passing comment on what the Egyptian people should or shouldn't do, and on what sort of government is likely to replace Mubarak's. It's all balloon filling really. Surely (as was said by one of the guests) the destiny of the political system in Egypt is in the hands of the Egyptian people, where it should be. It is not for us to say which type of democracy we would like to have. It carries as much impact on the outcome as does a child wistfully wishing for a £600 new computer at Christmas. (Take note Chloe).

So what happens if democracy flourishes in Egypt, and the people vote, and they chose, and we don't like what they chose ? What if they vote, for example to become a Muslim fundamentalist state ? These are the questions that are being thrown about by the BBC and others.

Opinions are like noses, they all smell.

A fundamentalist state may not be the 'preferred' choice of the western governments, but you know what, it isn't their (our) choice to make. I'm pretty convinced that the people of Egypt weren't sat round their television sets last may pontificating about the likelihood of a coalition government being formed in the UK, and what that would mean for them.

I'm not an isolationist, I do think we should be out there and engaging with the other countries of the world, but this presumption that we have a part to play in the political history of other countries is at best misguided interference. At worst, arrogant meddling.

After all, didn't the Egyptians have a working society a good deal before the formation of the 'mother of parliaments' ?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Do we always get what we expected ?

Today was the day of my annual review. Somehow whenever I have these things, I expect them to be basically a torrent of abuse. Of course, I should know better. It's been an awful long while since I had a boss that actually did that. (pretty much, since I left Tesco really).

Really, it didn't go all that bad. It didn't go as well as I could have hoped either, but at the same time, there was progress over my score from last year.

Is it that I have never gotten an increment, so have never expected it leading me to feel apathetic about it ? Strangely. No. Although I can point to lots of things that are better this year, over last year, I see the progress that's been made this year as the foundation, building blocks if you like.. for the stronger performance and success that is to follow.

Hope you're going to have a better year, month, week or day ? No. MAKE it a better year, month, week or day.
Spent so long waiting for the bus after work today that I felt that there was little point in the end, my going home, I might as well stay there. As I am back in work at 8am, any delay in getting home, after an 8pm finish makes me feel that the time, energy and trouble getting home from work, and then back again is time wasted.

I spend so much time going places, to I every truly arrive ? Destination or journey ?

Which is more relevant.....

I have Helen coming round tomorrow, to get some more work done on the play. We need to get some more writing done. We spent last week sorting out some of the organisational stuff about meeting up with people. We still do not have a confirmed date and venue. We've put up a facebook event for the meetup, but can't fix the location until I can get hold of someone at the pub we've contacted that can make a decision.

Clock is ticking. If they can't do it for the price we like (free) then we will hold it here. Won't be that much of a problem, and actually would be quite nice to have people here and read through the show. We have to stop all this moving back of dates. It's what's killing our motivation and focus. All the time the pressure of the looming deadline is absent we won't feel the burn, and the desire to make things happen. Helen and I have realised that all the time there is date we have to work to, that's set in stone, that we can't get out of, we are able to achieve so much. The rapidly disappearing days, weeks and months brings us to focus. When we know that the 'immovable' date actually isn't, IE, we can keep moving it, then we just loose all drive and attention, and we waste so much time. As indeed we have.

We had originally aimed to have the show completed by the end of December 2010, and have it good to go, ready to start workshops he first week in January. Where the hell has all that time gone ? We've had about two months where we haven't even looked at the script. That means that it's even harder to get back into the swing of things. We had to read through the work so far the other week, which probably isn't a bad thing.