Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Trial by TV

Posted by Chris @ 12:57 PM

As I watch the fifth series of "I'm a celebrity...get me out of here" many are quick to jump on the "reality TV will rot your mind, and is dumbing down television" bandwagon. I'm not going to jump on said bandwagon. More so I'm going to say it is actually quite good. OK, so there are questions about animal cruelty in the bush tucker trials, and watching someone eat Wallaby penis is not great, but the rest of it makes for a laugh. It is, in essence, all about human spirit, conquering your fears, pushing yourself to the limits. The things we all want to achieve really, but instead prefer to watch z list celebrities do on our behalf. Of course there is suffering, but at the end of it all they seem to come out better people, with new found knowledge about themselves. And in amongst it all is the great sight of these celebs covered in slime and insects, screaming their way through it all for our entertainment.

This is where my brain started to do its usual wandering. If you have ever seem the film The Running Man (A wrongly-convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a TV game show.), number 1 you'll know it is a great film, number 2, it helped my mind to wander. Also, apparently we've got an anti-social behaviour problem in the UK, and the Government solution has been ASBOs (Anti Social Behaviour Orders) restricting areas to these delinquents at certain times of the day, and banning them from congregating in groups.

I'm sure you can see where my mind has gone with this.

"I've got an ASBO...get me out of here"

Yes, that's right, instead of slapping an ASBO on these delinquents, simply pack 'em off (compulsory of course) to the Australian jungle, put them through a few bush tucker trials, and broadcast it on T.V. Once they're reformed the public can vote to send the most reformed individual home to the bosom of their families (the TV vote paying for this whole palaver). Of course, should they shout "I've got an ASBO...get me out of here" during their "life changing experiance", they get given an ASBO, which they can either work off by spending more time in the jungle, or return home to a short stint in jail, and a fine. Genius, I'm sure you'll agree.

I'm also sure this will generate a few comments, and as my readers have not been shy to comment in the past, let me have it!

Monday, November 28, 2005

It is SNOWING!!!

Posted by Chris @ 1:47 PM

But it is not settling. Poo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A tag cloud is good for search

Posted by Chris @ 12:36 PM

Whilst the whole tag cloud thing was meant to be a way of categorising and finding my posts automatically using fancy pants technology it has had a positive side effect. The tag cloud gets indexed in search engines, which means when someone searches for a particular phrase that is in the tag cloud, my site is normally up there with the rest - great! I can only assume this is because each tag is linked using the phrase as the link text, plus then clicking on the link in the search engine takes you to the page which shows my posts for that particular tag, which draws people into my site even deeper. Wicked.

So if you haven't got a means of tagging your posts or producing a tag cloud, I highly reccommend you try to get one sorted out, and if you can't be bothered I'm always happy to let you adapt my code to fit your site - for a link back to my site from your tag cloud of course!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I have whored my blog

Posted by Chris @ 1:03 PM

I am a blog pimp. I have whored my blog to the devil of Google AdSense. Why, I hear you crying? Well, why not. I tried it once before and to be honest it didn't do too well, basically because I put it in a rubbish place. But now, I've put it in amongst the posts, in the hope that you, the reader, will find the ads helpful / accidentally click them whilst browsing my site. But also, as they are in amongst my posts they pick up more relevant content, and so the ads are more relevant (more so than the religious ads I was getting when I first tried it!)

I have tried to make them as unobtrusive as possible, but the idea folks is to see how few dollars I can generate from my site! I'll keep you update on how much I make, in the first week I've managed $0.29, so I'm off to a flying start!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kitchen update 3

Posted by Chris @ 9:51 PM

Well, its finished, and looking fantastic. We're well chuffed with it, very very happy with our new kitchen. It's just full of space now! Because the wall cabinets aren't as deep they don't encroach as much, so that really helps with the illusion.

You can see another set of 6 pics in the kitchen gallery, again start here if you've been keeping up. As you can see Rob and Kevin have done a fantastic job for us, many thanks fellas!

The last few hours have been spent furiously dusting, tidying and hoovering in the kitchen, bathroom, dining room and front room, stuff gets everywhere! Once I've posted this I'm having a well deserved shower, and cracking open a beer before 7 hours pass too quickly and I have to go to work.

So what's left to do? Tiling, painting, floor. Easy!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Kitchen update 2

Posted by Chris @ 10:22 PM

Well it is the end of day 1 of the installation, and things have moved on a pace. The entire old kitchen vanished before 9.30 in the morning, and by the end of the day (the time I write this post) we've (who am I kidding, Rob and Kevin have, I tinkered with some drawers!) got all of one side in and the other side positioned and ready to fit the sink!!

You can check out all the latest pics (6 new) in the kitchen gallery, if you've been keeping up with them then start here.

More updates tomorrow when its finished!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Kitchen update

Posted by Chris @ 8:17 PM

We've got ourselves in gear this evening, so ta da, an empty kitchen! Yes, like a proud slave stood staring at death in the gladatorial arena, it stands empty, and strangely seems quite large, ready to be ripped out in a couple of days.

Of course, packing up the pans and food was a chore, which Dawn kindly took care of in her own style. Whilst packing the pots and pans in particular, she said "You're going to have a nice new home soon" and "We're going to decorate it all nice for you" They're pans for Gods sake, but that's Dawn for you, how cute!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

BT and kitchen update

Posted by Chris @ 7:58 PM

Firstly, I would have posted this last night, however BT left me without a phone line. Rubbish. However BT have an excellent online fault report and tracking site, which means the phone line is working again! Hurray!

So without the internet I managed to get on and finish off the last two cabinets. Brilliant. You can find a picture of all the cabinets all made up here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Google Analytics

Posted by Chris @ 2:05 PM

Well it seems Google have taken a step closer to web domination, by now allowing everyone (and itself) access to free, good quality web stats via Google Analytics. Fantastic, well done Google. I've setup the relevant tracking, so when I have some interesting stats (not holding out much hope with my traffic!) I'll let you know.

One thing that has caught my eye is the option to export to XML. My brain tells me that could lead to a tag cloud style search keyword cloud. Just depends on how good my keywords are, and how often I can be bothered to export the data to XML! Watch this space...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The kitchen is here!

Posted by Chris @ 6:17 PM

Well, the delivery guy rang at 8.00am, and said he'd be here at 8.30 / 9.00. So we lazily lied in bed, thinking we had at least half an hour. Then at 8.15am a knock at the door; damn delivery guys! Anyway, 15 minutes later this is the scene! A lot of cardboard, and hopefully, in there somewhere, a kitchen with a fridge and extractor hood.

Wish me look as I wield my screwdriver this coming week to build up the cabinets ready for installation next week.

We've also, a little late, chosen a floor for the kitchen. It is called Copperfield (by Rhinofloor) and we're hoping it is going to look really good in the kitchen, although you never really know until it is down do you!

I'll be taking pictures of the kitchen as it progresses, I'll post any updates here, but you can keep up with the action in the kitchen gallery.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New family tree pages

Posted by Chris @ 7:52 PM

I've got fed up with the old phpGedView family tree pages I was using to show my family tree. Whilst it was OK, it was too complicated, buggy, produced loads of stupid results in Google, and 404s, and gave me too much spam mail from "people" signing up to view further details.

So what's the solution? Well Tony has been working on a family tree chart generator for his own GedCom file, and very kindly let me try out the alpha version. It needs refinement, for sure, but will do me just fine. It produces standalone files, has a chart for each person and is easy to use. Plus no 404s and stupid results or themes for Google to index. Sounds good to me, cheers Tony, looking forward to the next update!

National Curriculum for under 5s - don't be silly

Posted by Chris @ 7:45 AM

If like me watching the news yesterday, about Government plans to have a national curriculum for under 5s, you were astounded by the stupidity of it all then keep reading. I'm not going to get into the whole discussion, suffice to say children should play to learn, and nursery / pre-school staff don't need the extra paperwork.

Anyway, it is the sort of issue that one feels that by writing to your MP you could help to turn the tide. So how do you do this? As a webbie, I figured that the Government must have a website to locate your MP somewhere, so I set off in search.

Out of sheer bold luck, on trying http://www.gov.uk it took me to http://www.direct.gov.uk/. Hurrah. This looked promising and it was. After a further dig and a small search, I happened across this site http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/, Constituency Locata, which lets you type in your postcode, find your MP, and then email them! Mission accomplished.

Now all I need to do is actually write a letter to my MP, and express my concerns! That I feel is the tricky bit, more research required before I take that step!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mustek DTV 407

Posted by Chris @ 9:32 PM

I've got a Mustek DTV 407 for Dawn for Christmas. She knows about it, so this post is OK! Anyway its a portable DVD player, with a Freeview tuner!

I've had it out the box to make sure it works, and its great! The freeview reception is a bit dodgy with the portable aerial, it found no channels at work, but at home it found about 15 tv channels and some radio ones. I guess on the move it won't be much good, but for that there is the DVD functionality. And it plays DVDs really well!

There's plenty of wires in the box, its got a remote, and all the connectivity I could need. And with a decent aerial plugged in I might even nick it to replace our old ITV Digital box until we upgrade to the Humax 9200T.

You can get the Mustek here, and the Humax here.

GTA San Andreas

Posted by Chris @ 8:21 PM

I've just started playing GTA San Andreas again, and I have to say I'd forgotten what a great game this is! It feels like only yesterday I stopped playing it cos I was stuck, but now I'm right back in the thick of it.

Great work Rockstar, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fat people - NO

Posted by Chris @ 9:04 AM

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH! Fat people - NO. At this point I would launch into a scathing rant against fat people, however in groundhog day fashion, I've been here before, exactly the same reason for this rant was the reason for this (Well done Marks and Spencer) rant. So please re-read that post, the only difference being that Marks and Spencer's profits are now up.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Relevant tags, or not as the case may be

Posted by Chris @ 2:23 PM

OK, some people (Tony, Ant, Chris) have been whinging saying that my automated tagging and tag cloud is not very good, as the tags it generates aren't very relevant. Let me explain why this is. Currently I only show tags for a post that occur more than once in my site. Therefore, whilst a decent tag might be pulled out by the term extraction, as it is only used once on a post in my site, it is not included in the tag cloud or against a post. What I think I'm going to do is change how tags are attributed to posts, so even if the tag isn't in the tag cloud (which would balloon if I included all tags), it will be listed as a tag for a post. It just means you might not find that tag in the tag cloud.

Secondly, whilst the zooming tag cloud is cool, it is knackered in FireFox, so I'll look at remedying that tonight.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Music from the Movies, Manchester Camerata at Sheffield City Hall

Posted by Chris @ 7:29 PM

We've had a cultured afternoon today. We've been to see the Manchester Camerata performing some classic movie themes at Sheffield City Hall. Along with the usual toe-tapping, head nodding grannies, and bored kids rustling wrappers and not sitting still, there were some great performances. All of the pieces were well performed, and a great selection of music was played. For a couple of hours it was well worth the money. We'll be keeping our eyes on the Sheffield International Concert season to see what else is on.

For those that are interested below is what we listened to:

  • John Williams - Star Wars, Main Title
  • Howard Shore - Lord of the Rings
  • Max Steiner - Tara's Theme from Gone With The Wind
  • Ron Goodwin - The Trap (think BBC marathon music)
  • Aram Khachaturian - Adagio from Spartacus
  • John Williams - Music from the Harry Potter Suite
  • John Williams - Flying Theme from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
  • Jerome Moross - Theme from Big Country (think Country and Western)
  • Giuseppe Verdi - The Force of Destiny Overture (think Stella Artois adverts)
  • Jerry Goldsmith - Star Trek: The motion picture
  • John Williams - Star Wars: Princess Leia's Theme
  • John Williams - Raider's March from the Indiana Jones Films
  • Richard Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries (think Apocalypse Now)
  • John Williams - Imperial March (think Darth Vader!)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cool expanding tag cloud

Posted by Chris @ 8:02 PM

I've updated my Tag Cloud a little bit - it now "expands" on load - so the more prominent tags grow a bit more than the others. It is easiest just to try it and see!

Its based on an idea I saw on this page and the code is based on a method Tony wrote, I've tweaked it a bit to get it working fully. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dilbert Blog

Posted by Chris @ 1:25 PM

In case you've not already seen it, there is a Dilbert Blog, where the creator Scott Adams blogs his random thoughts each day. Being the creator of Dilbert, this means that this blog is very, very, very funny. Stop reading my blog, and head over there and read his....(come back soon, you know you will.)

Thanks to Google Blogoscoped for highlighting this blog.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Political Science

Posted by Chris @ 5:30 PM

In universities, they have a subject called Political Science. What is scientific about politics exactly? I'd like to see the experiments carried out to prove political theory during a political science lecture. What scientific equations are there related to the field of politics? Do they work, could I construct the next ruling party of the UK with these political science equations?

Seriously, I'd like your thoughts, arguments for and against this subject, and, if possible, an answer to what makes politics a science?