Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Keboard testing ?

This is me trying to use the new wireless keyboard for my ipad. I have to say that so far, in the few seconds.....

Ease to set up. Excellent.

Snug Bluetooth Keyboard
Typing experience ? Rubbish.

The keys are very small and take quite some getting used to. The position of the arrow keys in particular means that each time I want to press the shift key, I end up instead, annoyingly selecting the up arrow and thus losing my place in the page. I am having to go back and correct a lot of words.

It's a cute little keyboard, but I am just finding it hard to use. This morning I was using the bluetooth wireless keyboard from my iMac with the iPad. I found that to work very, very well. This is the bit where I do wonder if the choice to not go for the Asus Transformer Prime was the right one. A physically connected keyboard that rather than drain power through bluetooth use actually adds to the battery life of the unit does seem to be a wildly better design idea.

One of the things that I had thought about was that using Celtx with the screen in portrait is better than landscape because it is closer to the orientation of an A4 piece of paper. I've used the iPad mostly in landscape format, switching to portrait when I want to read a particularly wordy webpage.

I do find my fingers gravitating toward a touchpad that just isn't there.

This concern with screen orientation overrode the possibility of a fixed - and therefore not battery sucking bluetooth - keyboard. Am I second guessing my decision because of recent Apple announcements about my (not-so-new) iPad ? Or because of the groupon email I got this morning offering the Asus Transformer Prime for 359 pounds. (can't use the proper pound sign as there isn't one on this keyboard).

After all, the Asus may actually have been a better machine, but the reality is that I can't afford it. I am as yet unsure if I will keep this bluetooth keyboard (by Snugg). The appearance is nicely sympathetic to those of the iPAD itself, I just don't know if I can get round the keyboard layout and size. I'm getting more used to it as I type this comment. Jury still out.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The not so new iPad

On Monday, after much soul-searching thinking and convincing and reviewing my finances I decided to buy an iPad 3, the all 'new' iPad as they were called.

What I hadn't counted on, was Apple announcing that they are not only releasing a new ipad mini but also redesigned iMac and MacBook Pro. Certainly didn't consider for a second that the New iPad would suddenly become the not-so-new iPad.

Does this ruin my enjoyment of this device ? Well. Yes it does. I had decided, having looked around at various options that in replacing my netbook I was going to buy a tablet, and a keyboard. This I considered to be a better solution than the ageing, slow and downright unusable netbook. I'd looked at different machines. As us transformer prime being the preferred choice for quite some time. I wanted a keyboArd, I also wanted some thing that would do the job very well of replacement netbook and tablet.

The transformer prime seemed to do very well in my criteria of, how good are the apps ? how quick is it ? How light is it ? How good is the battery life ? It then came down to cost. Quite simply any tablet without a contract would require significant outlay. Now I've been doing Lots of overtime at work lately, and figured I deserved treat. The battery power was important as much as mobility as I wanted to be take the device out of the flat because I seem to get distracted and prevented from writing when I'm here.

The cost of the device and the ongoing cost of the contract and the benefits of having mobile connection for the device all weighed up. I wrote out a pro and cons list and tried to break it down realising that there was a limited amount of money to spend.

In the end it boiled down to was it better to make a larger financial outlay now and having a lower ongoing monthly expenditure, spending less now and having a larger ongoing monthly expenditure or paying more money upfront and having no ongoing cost.

I decided that it was better to have the additional ability to connect to the Internet away from home with the contracting tablet and therefore less initial expenditure. This is good because this allows me to continue using my overtime to clear my existing credit card bills and also worked out well because one of my other existing ongoing financial commitments comes to an end in January 2013.

Yesterday I was excited as a kid In a sweet shop or on Christmas morning. This evening, as I see from the news about Apple's latest releases, I feel miffed and more than a little bit screwed over. There was no hint that the iPad was Going to get a facelift a mere 7 months after it was released.

Shocking really, those devices  no longer carry the chache of having THE LATEST technical gizmo.

Is that really all that important ? Well to some people it is. Yes. To me, not so much. I still feel gruff about the situation though. I had decided to buy the latest version that I could as the difference in price between it and the ipad 2 wasn't really enough to make the financial incentive sweeter to go one generation back. My (not so) New iPad is now not the top dog, the latest device. Right now that doesn't make a difference, but in years to come will mean that at some point it will stop being supported by Apple and stop being capable of running their latest ever changing IOS.

Is this really any different from any other computer manufacturer ? The nature of technology is that you get a doubling of power or halving of price ever six months or so. Moores law. To expect anything you buy computer wise to be 'with it' three years later is unrealistic. You should though still be able to expect it to be supported and able to run software that you need.

My netbook, which my (Not so) New iPad replaces is about three years old, and is completely useless. The updates to Ubuntu have now taken so much of the memory that like me, it really struggles to wake up in the morning. I am sure that if I downgraded the operating system it would still have function enough to browse the web and for word processing etc.

As we journey ever more into the cloud.. does this make us more or less vulnerable to such continual progress that leaves people without very deep pockets on a never ending journey from gadget heaven to  obsolescence. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Devon Calling is this month's review, a story filmed partly on location in Devon, and written by Chris Wilkes and myself. I have noticed that the camera styles in the 9th Man are more fluid and inventive than those in the Adventures of Stephen Brown episodes that I review. Interesting when you realise that the camera is being handled and directed by pretty much the same people in both series. There's a lot more location work in the former, and this affords more freedom of movement.  

This story kicks off with Jameson arriving in Devon, something I'm not sure we get the purpose of in the teaser sequence. There's lots going on out and about in Devon, and the weather is really good to the cast and crew, it makes me want to hop on a train and go on holiday. 

I hadn't realised until now that the caravan park where Jameson is staying is actually the very same one I stayed at on my honeymoon. (when I say 'I', I wasn't alone). In fact the description of the meeting place for the drugs handover of 'on the beach, in front of the green cafe' is a reference to the green beachfront cafe (I believe it's called Chapples) on Beer beach - which makes an appearance in the background shot while Stephanie Fielon and Stewart James figure out what to do with their ill gotten gains. Small world eh ? 

One thing that did strike both Chris and myself when we were writing this story (much pacing, role playing and tea at my semi subterranean flat in Cosham) is that there's an awful lot of time spent on the phone - hence the title. Perfectly normal thing, but doesn't necessarily make for good viewing. Most of the phone calls cut back and forth to show the person talking, which may be a choice of the editor, however does work better at the end of the episode one, when we stay on Jameson's reaction and hear the other side of the conversation as an overlay. This contributes, it has to be said to a very well executed end to the first episode. The picking up of Jameson's face in the reflection of 'Dealer's sunglasses a really nice touch (where do we get these names from). 

I'm sure there's something you can do on youtube to get it to autoplay your next video after one has finished. Perhaps one of our resident webmasters can point us in the direction of which button to click, and where, as moving seamlessly to the next episode will make for a more enjoyable viewing experience. 

The believability of the action and the sound effect of our fight scenes is something again that doesn't quite gel for me. Sound effects when hitting things, and the choreographing of hitting people (without actually doing so) is something we do have a weakness for. Having said that, the sounds are not over used in this story, as in previous things we've done, so it doesn't enter into slapstick territory (or looking like a recreation of a scene from heavily dubbed 1970s series 'Monkey'). 

Episode two's scene in front of the green cafe with Chelsea and Jake (Stephanie Fielon and Stewart James) we lose a bit of the conversation because they are standing on shingle, and the sound of them pacing about on the stones overpowers their voices. There are ways that could have been compensated for, or dealt with on location, but hey. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

There's a couple of things I'm not a fan of, the sound effect for Jameson's phone ringtone, doesn't sound like a digitisation of an old style phone ring, it sounds exactly like the ringing of one of those old rotary telephones I love so much, but as a sound effect - it's too clean and perfect. The snap zooms into 'Dealer', and the speeding up, then slowing down during the chase through the streets don't work for me. Worth trying, but no.

The chase scene itself, (if you excuse the fact that James Farmer looks for all the world like he's a middle aged man out for a jog) is a sequence of really good shots, giving us a flavour of local life in a rich variety of locations. Running not just down the usual empty streets we'd normally see in Beacon, but through festivals and carnivals. Really contributed to the atmosphere. 

I'm not quite sure why Kenny (Alec Harkness) is 'skipping' down the back streets only to suddenly tell himself off and that he has work to do. Again some really interestingly shot footage, through the railings as he walks along, but perhaps the rest of the footage could have been trimmed somewhat. Maybe he's happy because he's managed to get away with putting an Apple logo sticker on his Dell laptop. Steve Jobs would be spinning in his grave, if his ground up remains weren't being used to finish the case of the upcoming iPhone 5 that is. True. You read it here first.

When Jameson catches up with the two ne'er do wells of Devon, he pulls a gun on them to convince them to give him back the money. This scene isn't really that plausible, neither the way it's shot, acted or written give it a chance of working. Having said this, it does in no way form a blockage in the audience enjoyment. Although I do wonder if there's any outtakes of Stephanie and James trying to, ahem, make things stick out of their pockets. 

'That there money see, it belongs to the British tax payer'. Really ? I'm so sorry guys. Maybe Chris and I were waiting for the kettle to boil at that point. Mark that down as a shall we ? 

There's some wind (and not from Chris) when shooting outside the warehouse, something obviously causing a bit of a struggle, as the mic makes a sneaky appearance, from below no less, in this shot. It has been a while since Mike appeared in something.

Now I'm a fan for lighting that throws interesting shadows, these and the sounds in the warehouse, of Chelsea and Jake recovering the money, I really like. The 'fridge' shot from inside the case, also good. The 'foley' footsteps of the 'Quake' like gunman's eye view of their killer don't match his walking pace, and the gunshots of their execution sound like a snare drum being hit really hard. There's a great deal more blood from Stephanie, but I think Jake will be okay as he's only gone and spilt Ribena on his t-shirt. This may be because he tried to make Launay drink some.

The camera angles here have pace, and are rather fluid. I think I might have edited some of the shots a bit tighter, but this may be a personal preference thing. After all, some like it tighter than others.

Farmer entering the warehouse and discovering them murdered is all one shot. I've never seen us do this before. Jameson's panic, desperation all really well conveyed by Farmer, and well caught by the cameraman. I have no idea how many takes this took to get right, but hello was it worth it ! The siren sound effect adding to the tension here as the episode draws to a close. That's the second very well executed end of episode cliff hanger in this story. Something we often blow, but in this story has been done brilliantly. In the original script a further twist added here was that Jameson was to find his tag in the warehouse with the bodies. Over complications and the desire to add more twists than a bag of pasta is something I'd readily criticise in other scripts. Whoever's decision it was to remove this unnecessary element, good call. 

Jameson's escape from the warehouse, leads to him nearly being run over by the escaping murdered of the two Devon scallywags. The only thing I wish had been included here, would have been a way to throw some blue flashing light onto the outside of the building, to go with the siren. 

The 'Devon Air' radio spot on the car radio was brilliant, I'm sure I recognise that voice..... It was nicely shot to hide the driver of the car, unless you can identify them from their knees. Another really good ending, with Jameson being left by the roadside, the patience of the driver finally exhausted waiting for his hitchiker to finish making another call. 

Is it me, or does the sound of someone breathing on the footage of Reet (played by my good self) having been strangled make it sound like I'm just taking a nap ? I look surprising peaceful for someone who's been murdered most horribly. Strangled with a stretch of ethernet cable. Always thought the internet would be the death of me. 

Despite being part of the writing partnership that wrote this story, I really enjoyed watching it. It has to be said that's not the emotion I'm normally left with when watching back anything I've had a hand in creating. Always making a further edit in my head. Not the first time I've felt like this from something Chris and I have worked on together, for me that creative partnership works really well. We have differing styles and tend to lean toward differing types of content, but I think this works itself out in a very complimentary way. You'd have to ask Chris for his views on that he might say 'that bastard Sansbury, he's always getting up and flapping his arms about when we write together, and the tea is below my normal standard'. He might not. 

Sure there are things that could have benefited from a little more attention in the editing and sound department, but it's hard to get good sound on locations like a windy, pebbly beach. This is another 9th Man episode that leaves me wanting more. I really feel that I've watched a drama unfolding, and this is after all, what we're after,  no ? 

Now if you don't mind, this middle aged man is going to take himself off for a jog. Yeah. Right. More chance of John Barrowman coming out as a closet heterosexual.
This is the review of 'Girl In The Window' I wrote for May's 'Venturer' Magazine :-

Perhaps it's the anticipation of such a pivotal storyline, the desire to see the departures of Sarah Miatt's Lizzie and Ryan Brady's Stephen Brown given due deference, but my expectations were set rather high. After watching the story via the wonders of You Tube I must ask myself they were unrealistically so.

Chris Wilkes' storyline follows on from the previously developed arcs in the 'specials' series of 2011. The severely injured Stephen Brown instructs sister Lizzie to take him back to Rubart, with the clone Melastone 'liberated' from the laboratory of Donatien (Monster of Lacoste). Unfortunately for Lizzie and Stephen, President Vo has well and truly taken a walk on the dark side, deciding that the rise of his new dictatorship must be built on the destruction of Stephen's reputation (and hopeful death).

Threat, danger, political intrigue, sacrifice, betrayal, an old friend turned enemy, an old enemy returned... all the ingredients you'd need to deliver a fantastic season finale and swansong for both Miatt and Brady.

A once again delayed upload gave chance for any issues discovered in the premier to be tweaked, and polished. It's one level of embarrassment to show off half finished work to the hard working members of the Beacon fraternity, all together another to then share it with the rest of the world. Though why you would want to do either, beats me.

So, with such an important story (like others in the series' history), there's a real chance to showcase just exactly what Beacon is capable of. And demonstrate it certainly does.

Normally I work through my notes in a chronological format, and write my review logically working through the episodes as they appear online. This time, I thought I would try something different and focus on the separate elements of the show.

The writing, Chris has written more scripts for Stephen Brown than the Salvation Army dishes out hot dinners. Despite the (I think intended) groan-worthy nature of some of the jokes, and using the first lines spoken by Colin Baker as The Doctor after regenerating from Peter Davison, (twice as it happens) I have to take my hat off to him. There's lots going on, but not confusingly so from a scripting perspective. I'll also forgive the clunky use of the word 'PDA', which was just as clunky a word in 1990 when they were all the rage amongst the uber organised super geeks as the devices themselves.

He again 'borrows' from that famous time-travelling scifi show with a scene where Vo taps rhythmically on a desk and then gasses his cabinet. The script is so important in this scene, Ian's highlighted copy is actually centre of the shot at one point.

The sound in this story has a very annoying habit of changing levels and quality when flicking back and forth between President Vo (Ian Hamer) and Number One (Kathryn Cairns). When Vo tries to bully Death, he stands up and promptly loses synchronisation between image and sound. That isn't the soundman's fault though, that one lays squarely in the hands of the editor.

It is also the editor that is to blame for the downright disruptive an at times, inappropriate background music.

The fist thing you notice when watching this episode is that the image isn't formatted properly into the frame on the website. This leaves us with a solid black border all the way around the screen. The picture, when it's live action is normally treated to an artsy shaky feel. This can be very effective, and give an 'on the fly' edge to the action. It works well when done consistently and when not overused. Sadly we're left with a fair bit of footage that appears was shot by Michael J Fox. It's an effect not always applied either, so confuses the eye as to what the significance is of its use. It may have been nothing more than a conversation of... 'oh, they do this in Battlestar Galactica, and it looks really cool.. I think we should do that...and while we're at it, let's have their music too...'

The initial shots onboard the Venturer appear to have been put through the instagram app on an iphone. It's quiet a nice rosy-glow effect, I just cannot see what it adds or why it is used.

The computer graphics in this story leap from utterly fantastic to, the other end of the spectrum. The establishing shot of the Presidential Offices is overused, and in exactly the same way too. It's a very nice image, we just see it too much. The green-screen shots are very effective and well used, but are let down when the background image is not that inspiring. The Venturer external shots give the ship a plasticky shine, when it comes into land it actually looks a little like it was a toy.

The postproduction visual effects suffer from the same inconsistency, fantastic holographic control screen images, that are well designed and well laid out, that are not in every shot of the same scene. Missing forcefields and control panels spoil Stephen's rescue of Lizzie as there's nothing preventing her from just walking out anyway. When Vo is trapped behind another invisible forcefield and firing his gun at Lizze, there is no effect of the shots and the footage does not tell the story of how or why Lizzie is left in an area of the ship where she is exposed to space when the escape pod departs with the bemused Stephen Brown in the clone body (Stewart James). The image of receding escape pod appears cartoon-like. I would invite you to take a look at some of the 'cutting edge' special effects used in Blakes 7 in 1979 and compare.
The numerous sets and locations are both good and not so good. The cabinet meeting for example makes no attempt to dress the set at all. It does have to be said that the setting fire of the Venturer set was especially effective.

The effect of these failings is to seriously detract from Lizzie's death scene. A series of shots that fail to tell the story is nothing new, and is either down to a gap in planning by the director or some sort of checking and review of work by the editor.

If the delayed uploaded version has resolved previous premier night issues, I cannot imagine what that must have looked like. After my really high expectations I am left feeling very bad for the underplayed passing of Sarah and Ryan's roles after so many fantastic performances, not as much for the actors themselves, but also from the disappointment of the rather missed opportunity to take a brilliant story idea and 'knock it out of the park'. You don't get a second chance to make a last impression after all.

This is the review that I submitted for April 2012's edition of 'Venturer' :-

Our journey along the series of The Ninth Man continues with the third story, Ties That Bind Us. After the previous episodes I have to say I was rather looking forward to watching this, and finding out what happens to Kenny, Robert, Michelle and Lindsay.
We get off to a good start, returning as we do to the place where the previous episode left off with my good self as Reet and Chris Lovin (Ben Johnson) leaving Kenny Cooper (Alec Harkness) tied up, while we go off to engage in some intimidation. It had been raining, making my '.. and it was turning out to be such a nice day' line rather fitting. If it's one thing you can rely on in the UK, it's that at some point, it will rain.
I have to say I'm less than convinced by the 'sherbet dip' scene. Maybe I'm too used to seeing Tim playing comical characters, but I was expecting a play to the camera and some jazz hands at any moment!
The heavy boys, in the form of Ben Johnson and Will Gammon, carrying their implausibly long poles set on Jameson and Michelle, hitting the latter (Sarah Miatt) around the face with a pipe. This confrontation is lacking the pace and menace of previous such scenes in the series. James' reaction is rather flat for someone who's just seen his sister- in-law beaten round the head with a
metal pipe. Was it rehearsal, or lack of it, that killed the confidence in execution of this scene?
Fight scenes are, by their nature complicated beasts, you want to get the point across, but you also don't (really) want the actors to get hurt. There are several examples in the story of why such scenes take place, but they must be choreographed skilfully, and rehearsed over and over, to take the best of the situation, and get the best shot.
Aside from the punch sounds which I have always detested, the sound while Will and Ben walk through the warehouse is distracting. It's a well shot piece though, I do like the wandering through a poorly lit warehouse. It's not always clear
however how or why one scene links to another, which surprises me as this story was written by Jordan Howard, the architect of the series. It doesn't make sense why Will's character decides to finish the job of bludgeoning the boxer to death, but it is Ben's character, that reveals this to Jameson.

10There's a bit of me that thinks that filming Ben driving, whilst on the phone, in what I can assume is his works van is not a brilliant idea, but I think my objections aren't to do with the production. Still, nice bit of advertising for them.
The previously unconvincing attack on Sarah's character leaves an equally unconvincing lack of injury to her face. I'm pretty sure that if I was hit round the face with a six foot metal pipe I would have some sort of war wound to show for it, and It doesn't make sense why she is let go. Now, I know about other elements of the series that I have yet to review, and that there may be explanations for all these things at a later date, but rather than come off intriguing and mysterious, it just judders and jars and breaks up the previously excellent story telling I've seen in the other episodes.
I did really think though, that after chucking Sarah out of the van, that she was going to get run over as Ben reversed right next to her, but this doesn't happen. She just gets up and hobbles off.
I did like the filming of Ben through the reflection in the mirror, but again the scene felt like we were missing a step. Reet is waiting for a call, presumably from Chris (Ben Johnson)... although Reet is the one that makes the call in the end, while Chris has a weirdly cosy chat in the front of the van with Jameson. Maybe despite the duct-tape on his mouth Jameson was able to call 'shotgun'? It also doesn't make
sense either for Reet to shout at Kenny Cooper to 'get out of his place' while he's tied to a chair.
I'd forgotten that before all of this, Lindsay had been kidnapped, so when Michelle (Sarah Miatt) tells James Johnson (John Hampton) that she's just 'took off' it makes even less sense than him saying to
call the police, or that he already has, when he did and had been told there was nothing the police could do. As if things weren't confusing enough!
I have to say that Kenny's line 'the police saw him this morning, and the bits that they found were definitely not fine...' did make me laugh, but mostly the emotions I am left with after watching this story are disappointment, and confusion. The script, or at least the editing, doesn't gel together and create the smooth seamless story that I'd become accustomed to. The acting doesn't really show up any shining performances, though if anyone had it, it was Harkness. Most of the other 'action', if you can call it that was unconvincing and poorly conveyed from a directing and acting point of view. I really do hope that the next story shows a return to the excellent form I love so much.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Poseidon Adventure comes to Cosham

What can I say ? My flat flooded because of those blokes that came round last year to sort out my bath tap didn't reconnect the overflow pipe on my bath.

Great that I should only find this out when it floods my bathroom, my hallway, and into Chloe's bedroom.  Unfortunately, the properties of both water and gravity being what they are this has meant damage to the walls and ceilings of the same rooms in the flat downstairs. I await the response from Taylor Wimpey  to discover if they will accept that this has been caused by their workmanship, or if I will end up having to speak to my insurers...

Smile, it could be worse ? I did. I smiled, now look what happened. Grrrrrrr.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Let's go outside...

After very little sleep, and being up characteristically early, I decide to get a little light vlogging done whilst I wait for the bus.

Unaccustomed as I am to recording whilst other people are around, there's a bit of panic whilst I move out the way when a bus turns up, and the passenger that gets off looks at me like I'm either someone from the funny farm or a terrorist.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Something about time, and Doctors, but not THAT.

... so I arrange a Doctor's appointment to be very early in the morning (07:20), so that it won't interfere with my working shift of 11:30-20:00 - sorry got all military with the clocks there.

Unfortunately, I later discover that the shift had been changed, and actually the team all went home around 5pm.

By later, I mean, when I turned up to work at 11am.


Sunday, 1 April 2012


Another film that was filmed and uploaded directly from my Android Wildfire S, although it has to be said that the thumbnail does look somewhat disturbing. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Android phones don't like water

Because I'm a crazy or a little bit stupid, maybe a bit of both, I ended up proving why dropping your HTC Wildfire S into the sink is not a good idea.

What with my track record with phones and water, which was started with the drowning of my Blackberry whilst on holiday last year, when I capsized my kayak. (I guess two phones in two years is hardly a president, but it doesn't look good on the insurance claim now does it ?).

Just when you think things can't get any worse....

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Lateral Thinking

This was the video I was waiting to upload. Oh its so confusing.

Many are stronger

I'm reading 'The Happy Depressive' by Alastair Campbell on my Kindle at the moment (I'd started reading 'A Tale of Two Cities' but gave up). I have to say, that although Mr Campbell and I aren't exactly on the same page politically, something that I know will cut him to the core, I am really enjoying the book. 

I am finding it enlightening to read someone who works (or worked) in such a high pressured, high paced environment talk openly about his depression, and how he has learned to deal with it.

I had a similar reaction to a TV program that the wonderful Stephen Fry did a few years ago,  'The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive'.

I don't know that I would be quick to use the labelling, of depressive. (Sounds rather, er.. depressing doesn't it ?), but I have certainly been through a rather stressful time from the last month of 2011 onwards. I am much better now, there are some things that are no longer hanging over me. I had a very terrible time of it around Christmas and New Year, and things came to a head toward the middle of February.

I've felt that the big 'start of a new year' thing that I was so looking forward to, thinking that 2011 had been pretty much of a crap year, never really happened for me. From feeling that my life was on hold, and my future utterly in the hands of others, I am now left feeling directionless and uninspired in relation to my professional future.

What I've been through has really made me take stock, again, about what sort of person I am, and what sort of things I am cut out to do or be. There is no point trying to fit a square peg into a round hole now is there ?

As my feelings and understanding of myself and the environment around me evolves, things may change, but right now, I feeling rather let down by those that make a virtue of telling me that they have my best interests at heart, and that they are looking after me. They're not. They haven't, and they continue to provide fresh reasons to distrust them.

Like everything, any relationship has its time. It starts, it blossoms, and it grows, and in time, it fades away and withers. There's no point trying to get a dead plant to grow, no amount of watering and soft talking is going to produce green shoots.

People are funny things aren't they?  I only meant to write a line or two, while I waited for another video to upload. Instead I've managed to poor out a page of heartfelt (although rather vague), comma and parentheses  laden text. Semicolon close bracket.

Monday, 19 March 2012

can i blog from my kinle ?

This entry serves as a small experiment into just useful is the kindle at making light text entries into my blog (or for using in any other text based medium for that matter)

I am so far surprised at how well it is handlimg it. My kindle is the one that has a keyboard but does not have 3G. i wouldnt describe the typimg experience as pleasant, but neither would I describe it as unpleasant.

No one is pretending the kindle is a tablet computer (o do hurry up and get the fire released in the UK. Please Amazon) But if you remove the obsession with touchscreens colour images and millioons of apps you will never knowingly need nor use the Kindle has all you require.

who am I kidding.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Being lazy by creating work...

This is the video I made the other night, when I really wanted to go to bed, but had to argue with myself about all the chores that I needed to complete first. Arguments aside, I had also added the talk of editing video to the list of things needed doing. Sometimes I don't even get this 'being lazy' lark right.

Did I feel good after achieving all that ? Sure I did. Well, I think I did, but the moment my head hit the pillow I was asleep.

For her part, Twilight sits and watches me clean out the cat litter tray, and then, before even the dust has settled on the newly cleaned and filled tray, does her business. Is this a marking territory thing, or is it that when they see me cleaning it out, they suddenly have the urge to pee ? You know, like when you're at work and someone tells you the toilet is out of order as it's just being cleaned or something. It's guaranteed to make you realise that you need to void your bladder in the near future.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Dance kitty, dance !

I really don't make the cats perform for their treats, but I was not going to bother with a video tonight, until of course they started doing this...

An (un)interesting technical note, was that as I was filming (and uploading) this film from my phone I needed a way to get the phone to stand on the kitchen counter whilst unwrapped the treats. Invention being required by necessity, I pressed into service a nearby apple device.

Apple device ? Wait, iphone, ipod, imac ? No. I mean the device I sued to prop up the phone and take the footage was leaning it against an apple (the type you eat dumb-ass). I couldn't take pictures of this fact... because, well, I normally take pictures with my phone.

Monday, 12 March 2012

cuts, cuts, cuts.

Not a title you want to mispronounce or mistype.

This one wasn't so much of a close shave, as well a light trimming of the mass of unruly hair that had grown on my head. Sadly, not able to completely hide the expanding patches that are devoid of hair.

As ever, my activity is scrutinised by the cats.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Of the weaknesses we are built...

Outside vlogging ? Serious stuff. I'm sorry I look like a bag of shit in this, but it's partly the fault of the camera and the lighting on my phone, and partly the fault that I do actually look that awful.

Before I descend into a really vain attack on my skin tone....

Having not vlogged for a while, I decided to let the moment strike me, and did so whilst I was sat outside enjoying the fresh evening air, and looking up at the stars. Partly prompted by a telephone conversation I had with my Mother about a family member, and about my thoughts about the world around me, and the experiences suffered by some people I have known, including my closest and dearest friend.

He tasks me, he tasks me.....

Facebook continue with their attempts to lure me back into their clutches...


Hi Simon,
You haven't been back to Facebook recently.You have received notifications while you were gone.
The Facebook Team

.. and I have to confess to a moment of weakness that was entirely brought about by the need to get the e-voucher code for Pizza hut on Saturday night than anything.. this required me to momentarily log into facebook in order to get the code. Honest. That was the reason. True. So, after recovering the code I needed to get reduced price pizza for myself and Chloe, I did wobble, and look at the friend request. 

Should I pay a penance (again a religious word I've stolen) for this 'sin' ? I haven't wavered at all on the watching live TV front, to the point that the retuning of TV digital TV receivers in my area went completely un-noticed by me, and thus two days worth of recorded programmes instead were screens of 'you need to retune your BT-Vision Box'. 

It does come to something when even my parents (well, my Mother) seem slightly frustrated that I am not using facebook at the moment. Although I am too old to use the typical teenage reaction that anything my parents think is a good idea, I must absolutely hate (and vice versa). 

Who was the 'friend' request from ? I have no idea who the person was, but he looked cute, so I accepted. Me, shallow ? God no. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tell me why I don't like Mondays...

This is why you should pay attention to where you leave your keys, and where you place your hands, when ironing...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Stupid cat...

What can I say ? Sorry ? This is the longest (to date) video I've done. Sorry it goes on a bit, hopefully you won't find it all boring.. maybe just skip the boring bits...

Really selling this aren't I ?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Here's one I made earlier...

Last week, I wrote a review for Venturer Magazine (the in club magazine for Beacon). Although I mentioned it on a previous blog entry, now that the magazine has been published, I have pasted the content in its entirety :-


Having enjoyed reviewing the pilot episode of The Ninth Man this month brings the 2nd offering to my attention. Like so many pilots when they get commissioned there's a change at the top. Instead of Joshua Ive continuing his role as Robert Jameson, his shoes are ably filled by James Farmer. 

James has the benefit of looking a bit more 'weathered' than Joshua, and although he plays the role slightly differently, it is a really good fit. Not exactly an easy thing to carry off. At a moment of potential disaster for the fledgling series Jordan doesn't just settle for the next person available, he recasts with absolutely the right man.

Despite the change in lead, the production values and extensive use of location, continue unabated. As does the cornerstone performance of Alec Harkness in his role as Kenny Cooper. This particular story is also penned by Alec, a script with twists, turns and as many new questions as it provides answers.

Chris Wilkes' narration as Jameson's parole officer brings us up to speed with what's happing. We are very quickly into the action, with not so much as a second to pause for breath. There's no waste in this story, although some lines are more golden than others. Emma Giles' line of 'Bouncing around from arsehole to arsehole ?' did give me a chuckle.

Sarah Miatt does very well as the broody, pissed off and altogether angry Michelle Harris.
As the intrigue and tension cranks up, Jordon himself makes an appearance as 'Henchman' with an economical, but effective use of a certain garage we all know and love.

There were only a few times I picked up on anything technical, with the guest appearance from Mr B OOM in The Fight Club, (a location only marred by the determination to remain fully clothed of all the muscly fighting types), and the sunlight causing some lens flare as well as catching on the actors are but minor irritations.

A kidnapping that doesn't leave you expecting a 'mmmmwwwhahahah' must have been one of those moments Steve's now ex neighbours are going to miss.

With such a good ending to episode one, I do think we missed out not having a closeup of the ransom note. Farmer's lines are lost against Sarah's building rage, and Initially I had reservations about a cheese knife being used well as an instrument to instil fear. Sarah, however takes a situation that could otherwise have descended into farce and delivers menace, such is the quality of the acting.

One of the locations we are treated to in this story is a lovely Vegan cafe (they do a yummy vegan stew), where we meet Reet (played by my good self), and Chris Lovin (Ben Johnson). I have to say that this is one of the few occasions where I am not cringing as I watch my own performance, and although I do come dangerously close to looking right at the camera I swear all those times I look down whilst talking to Kenny are not to look at my script.

All in all, this second helping of a bit of Ninth Man pie goes down rather nicely. There's menace where there should be menace, humour where it's wanted, and with nothing to spoil it in the way of set, technical failings or performances from the actors this rather ambitious storyline is unravelling before our eyes. It doesn't drag at all, there aren't any bits that wouldn't have been missed had they been cut. It moves along at a decent pace, and is more than just easy to watch. It's enjoyable. I'm eager to catch the next instalment.

Apart from wanting more, the only other thing I feel deprived of is the cake Bek (Sam Sayner) was touting, where's mine ?

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

1 week in... what's changed ?

Here I am, a week into my facebook and live TV free phase of abstinence, and I have to say that I haven't felt any pain for giving either of them up. 

What I do feel is that I have had a lot more time and energy for doing productive and creative things. Even with my recent increase in hours at work, I've still felt good. Less than 6 hours sleep a night hasn't dented my enthusiasm for wanting to film and edit my vlog. Evidence of which you can see on this very blog. 

Facebook did send me an email, bless them, like a really insecure and needy girlfriend they sent me this the other day :-

Hi Simon,
Here's some activity you may have missed on Facebook.
1 friend request
1 message
14 notifications

There was moment of wobble the day after, when I considered just who the friend request might actually be from. Curiosity. Intrigue, mystery. 

Then of course I came to the conclusion, that surely I actually know this person in the real world, and if they want to talk to me they can ? Unless of course they are so insulted by my apparent denial of their friendship request that they have snubbed me in reality as some form of digital revenge. 

That may be the case, and if so, perhaps I am better off without such a friend ? They would not be able to see the facebook status updates I had made prior to my 'departure' about the period of abstinence, as my privacy settings prevent people that are not my friends from seeing my facebook updates. 

I am sure they, and I will get over this small issue. 

Otherwise I can honestly say that I do not miss it at all, I have gotten very quickly used to not checking facebook every five bloody minutes. I certainly don't miss the constant updates or requests concerning people's farms or mafia gangs. Again like a version of Sim City, but a lot more annoying. 

One habit that I have formed this week, is that I go outside every lunch break, (really important when you work cooped up in the in artificial environment of an office), I actually have my lunch at my desk before I go to lunch. In doing so I have my whole hour (or just under) to sit in the open air, just by myself. More often than not I have taken the opportunity to sit and write. This has been invaluable working on the story background and development for The Adventures Of Stephen Brown. I'm quite pleased with how that's progressing,  

I have rarely turned on the TV this week at all. Tonight, I put it on to watch Skins, and that was it. Then it went off. No drifting through channels of mindless shit. No wasting away my evening on stuff I don't really want to see. 

So although I got out of work an hour late today, and it was the strangest and perhaps less fulfilling day, it has had its compensations. My boss is letting me finish an hour early tomorrow to make up for it. This means that I finish at 4 tomorrow ! Yay !!! 

And 4:30 Friday, Friday, oh you are so close, I can almost smell the weekend. Hannah is coming round for some eats and a DVD. We'll see what we watch, and if I get to cry or not. 

Anyhoo, after feeling so energised and alert, and awake.. now, I'm not. So bed for me it is. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

From the bedroom (again).. with disgruntled cat looking on

Filmed with my wildfire S, and the camera flash to illuminate things. Midnight giving me evils.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Beard be gone !

I woke up today at 7:30. 7    30... I can't shout it when I'm typing, no capitals like you can with letters.. oh, hang on...


Yup, I think that gets it across. I've had a full and moderately useful day. I've vacuumed the flat (would do a full clean, but to be honest, It's only been a week and the place doesn't get THAT dirty) - I know rock and roll. Rock and roll. I've then spent a considerable amount of my time trying to get together another Midnight and Twilight video, and instead have again farted out this little 'creation'

Well, that was a close shave, wasn't it. No. Not at all. Terrible joke. Even by my standards.

I have watched some TV today, but nothing live. I've watched New Girl, Skins, Inside Men (this week and last week), Question Time and This Week. Wow. It's only by typing that all in, that I understand why I haven't gotten more done. Still. I feel a not entirely wasteful use of my day off. After all, I've had a nice long soak in a bath too.

I don't feel so bad now.

One thing that I didn't do, but that I guess I should have was arranged to meet up with the girl that I'd cancelled on meeting on Thursday. The thing is, I really get scared of going out places, meeting people, especially when I get the idea that they have feelings, that I seem destined to squash. Not being someone that likes trampling on anyone's feelings, or their tulips for that matter, I've done the next best thing and cowed away from setting anything up meeting wise. Way to go. .

She does seem to have this idealised impression of me, as this fantastically brilliant person, which although terribly flattering, is pretty much guaranteed to lead to disappointment.

The Queen song, 'Somebody to love' is one of my all time favourites. You can't beat a bit of Queen, especially when cleaning. I've come to a bit of conclusion recently, and that comes from realising that there are people that I know, that may perhaps like me enough (or be able to put up with me enough) to want something more than friendship. So, I'm definitely not going (again) through a phase of 'nobody loves me, nobody cares...' What I've realised is this. That actually, the thing stopping me for finding that sort of companionship, love, if you like isn't choosing a partner, (girl, boy, whatever), it's actually me not being able to reach out with my feelings.

I feel a Star Wars quote coming.

I'd quite comfortably sit inside my shell, or prison, and drift along in my mundane existence, pacing out another 40 or so, years on the planet until I've finally had enough and die.

But what is it that I am so bloody afraid of ? I don't actually think I'm afraid of hurting my feelings, being hurt by someone else, in some ways, I'd actually need that - I need the pain to remind me that I am actually alive. God, I'm starting to sound all Emo now. Hang on while I just go get my eye-liner.

I do honestly think that I am afraid of hurting other people's feelings. Of letting them down, if I decide that they aren't the person I want, or need. I can intellectualise all these things, and come up with cast iron ways to justify to myself that doing nothing is the right thing to do.

There are people that I find attractive, and people that I find interesting, (and yes, some are even both !) and I don't mean that to come across in an egotistical, arrogant or snobby way. There's more to some people than others, and those with 'something' about them it's uplifting to spend time with as you peel back the layers and discover more and more about their lives and what makes them tick. I certainly don't think that I'm interesting, for starters, I never bloody do anything of interest.... yet I seem to desire to share that with the rest of the world through my blogging and vlogging. Vanity publishing doesn't even come close now does it ?

I don't know how to create, or better still, allow a situation to develop from acquaintance, friendship into something more. I've put too much thought into it, come up with all the reasons why I shouldn't do a thing, and obliterated all the reasons why I should do it.

Food for thought there. I'm glad I could thrash that out with you. If this doesn't make sense to you, it does (kind of) to me. Thanks for listening/watching/reading.