Friday, October 27, 2006

Is this phoning over the Internet lark really any good?

Yes it is! And not only that but the video over the Internet (or more accurately over IP) also works a treat. I've never bothered looking into things like Skype before because I'm a typical man who uses phones to arrange where to meet people rather than as a meeting place in itself. It astounds me when I hear Ali on the phone for hours on end cackling with her friends about what is in Heat Magazine or what is happening in Desperate Housewives.

However, now we have a nipper on the way I though it might be a good idea to figure out how easy it was to communicate for free with friends and family around the country who may appreciate a squint at the little dude when it arrives. And I am very pleased to report that it is brilliant! Last night I was chatting with my mates Si and Sally in Lincolnshire and today I established my first video call with my mate Matt in Warrington. As you can see in the image where he appears to be pondering a a question of great significance. All for free. I don't think I will ever be the most chatty phone user whether it is on VOIP or the old land line but with the addition of video it certainly makes it a bit more interesting. Here is what Matt had to look at. MrPorts in full screen mode.
One thing you have to get used to with video on computers is that the camera is normally either above or to the side of the screen so that when you are looking at the screen (as you would to see your caller) you are looking away from your own camera.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Anyone living in the UK would have done really well to miss all the adverts for the BBC's new SciFi spectacular Torchwood. This is the post watershed spin off from the family oriented Doctor Who (Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who). So is it any good? Well the first episode was really establishing that the Torchwood organisation was a maverick group of investigators who covertly look out for aliens and their technology under the leadership of the enigmatic Captain Jack Harkness who is an immortal alien himself. In concept it has shades of Men in Black or even Buffy. Certainly there are a glut of references to Dr Who but any young fan of the good Doctor would have rather a shock if they were to watch this. It is on after the watershed for a reason. For example the second episode is about an alien that survives by taking over a female human host and shagging men until they disappear in an orgasmic cloud of gas, kind of like when the immortals kill each other in Highlander but with more carnal knowledge. Even two episodes into the series we get load of swearing, blood guts and gore, nudity, sexual innuendo (lots of innuendo), "self pleasuring" as well as a great thriller with SciFi overtones. I guess we will have to see how it evolves, it is a bit harsh to compare two episodes to a series like Dr Who that has been going for 40 years, but what is clear is that Torchwood is not a children's program. In terms of Russell T Davis's work this is closer to Queer as Folk or Casanova than Dr Who.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The evils of the modern world (part 3)

I'm seldom surprised by how stupid people can be. But it generally doesn't bother me too much. So what if people want to read The Sun, watch Strictly Come Dancing or dress in Burberry? However, what does drive me incandescent with rage is the muppet's who feel the need to turn on their emergency indicators when they park their vehicles at the side of the road. I don't have a problem if it is an ambulance or any other vehicle that is responding to an emergency but it drives me mad when it is just an ordinary car or truck. Why? Well as soon as another car comes and parks behind them and obscures the offside it just looks like they are indicating to say they want to leave their parking space. Being a polite sort of fella I often stop to allow people to rejoin the carriageway and it is really galling when they don't move because they are actually just parked but felt so self important that they left their indicators on. Often because they are parked illegally. Do they really think people won't notice a 2 ton car without flashing lights? See also people who leave their fog lights on all the time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Song Remains the Same

Last night was my mate Neil's birthday bash and he arranged for about a dozen of us to go and see the Led Zeppelin tribute band Boot-Led-Leppelin. What a cracking evening! I spent much of my late teens sitting around earnestly listening to this ludicrous, pompous type of overblown nonsense - and I have missed it. I certainly never thought I would ever see the Zep live and while these impersonators weren't perfect, with a little suspension of disbelief they were pretty close. The singers jeans were so tight you could tell his religion and the guitarists twin necked Gibson SG was authentically silly. The songs were all in place; Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, , Whole Lotta Love, No Quarter, Since I've been Loving You amongst many others. They even managed to pull off Stairway To Heaven with a straight face - which is no mean feat. I felt like I was 16 again. Highly recommended.