Saturday, April 29, 2006

Golf

Posted by Chris @ 2:16 PM

I'm playing a round of 18 hole golf with work in a couple of weeks, and considering the closest I've come to golf is a driving range with a right handed club (I'm left handed) it is going to be a fun day!

For this day I need left handed clubs (Jim has kindly lent me a full set), golf shoes, a polo shirt or shirt, no T-shirts allowed, trousers, and a golf glove helps apparently! So off to Decathlon I've been today. After some deliberation and asking a member of staff who played golf, I ended up with the right glove. You see, you only get one glove for golf, and for a left handed player like me it goes on your right hand, only the box is labeled left handed, as that's the player I am, not the hand it goes on. Not confusing when you realise this, but until you do, you're dumbfounded!

And golf shoes, what's the deal with them? Do you change into them at the club house, or do you turn up wearing them? I only ask because they have funny grippy bits on the bottom, which I can't see being any good on a hard surface? Any golfers care to enlighten me?

All this said I'm looking forward to it, and am looking forward to my time at the driving range next weekend to get a few practice shots in - I think I'm going to need them! Wish me luck, I'll let you all know how it goes...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Bits and bobs

Posted by Chris @ 8:17 PM

A couple of websites I've stumbled across today have enough substance to them to make them worthy of a special mention.

Firstly the BBC have released the BBC Broadcast Catalogue as a beta to the world. It is an absolute treasure trove of information, and is crying out for a Web 2.0 mashup of some kind! They explain it far better than me, so check it out! [Via hackdiary]

Secondly I've found last.fm - an absolutely brilliant social music service - it tracks what you listen to, but also provides a free personal radio station based on what you and others listen too (it uses tagging quite nicely.) After signing up, 5 minutes later and I'm listening to some quality jazz, with no adverts or DJs. Great! Again they explain it much better than me, but essentially just try it, I guarantee you'll love it.

Finally completely unrelated, you'll have seen my site has a Cumbrian translation, but I'm struggling to find a decent Yorkshire translator for web pages. If you find one let me know!

Update: Sorry, one other website I forgot to mention, another bit of BBC content buried on their site, Blog Network - a site detailing all the various blogs the BBC run, something for everyone there! Go!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Musicube removed

Posted by Chris @ 6:55 PM

This afternoon you might have noticed my site took a while to load. The cause of this was the Musicube. Whilst it is cool, it is not cool enough to be free advertising and slow my site down, even for a few minutes, so it has gone.

This site in Cumbrian!

Posted by Chris @ 1:29 PM

As some of you may or not be aware, my lovely wife Dawn comes from Cumbria. They talk a bit funny up there, and every time we go to visit the family I pick up some new Cumbrian word or phrase. Well now I need worry no more about understanding them, as I have found the babelsheep!

It lets you translate English to Cumbrian and back again, for text, and more importantly, for web pages! As an enterprising webmaster like myself my only option was to add this as a new language to my site!

See noo all those Cumbrian's whee've found me site 'ard ter understand can translate i' inter thur native tongue using the link in the top right, an' fur those whee aren't fre Cumbria, try i' any road as i' is a barie laugh, eh!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

reboot:bbc.co.uk - Redesign the BBC website

Posted by Chris @ 6:30 PM

Have you got some days off work coming up? Are you a lazy student? Are you unemployed? Are you a house husband / wife? Are you an insomniac? Do you have some web design experience? Then you are all likely candidates to enter the BBC's latest competition reboot:bbc.co.uk

Basically, you get to redesign the homepage, and the rest of the site, for the web 2.0 age, and win some prizes. Sounds like a groovy competition, and I'll be tracking the submissions via their various feeds, however I don't have the time (or design skills - Ed (you are the Ed you crazy person, stop talking to yourself in your own blog post)) to enter, unlike the above!

GO!!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Godfather

Posted by Chris @ 4:51 PM

Whilst on holiday I had a chance to read The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I'd heard of the film, but had never watched it, let alone read the original book, and knew nothing about the story line, other than it was about the Mafia. Having now read the book and watched the film I'd like to share a few thoughts on each and their differences.

Firstly the book. It was good, and kept me reading right through my holiday. Some of the sub plot towards the end of the book regarding Jonny Fontaine and Nino Valenti out in Hollywood and Las Vegas was a bit tedious, but generally it was well paced, with good character development and plot twists. I recommend you read it.

The film on the other hand was disappointing. And I'm surprised, as I'm sure some of you will be, by that judgement. However, I believe I came to this conclusion because I had read the book. Basically, the film is too slow, the character development is lacking (although I'm aware some of this is in The Godfather Part II) and the whole feel of the film is different to the book. If I hadn't read the book I'd have got lost on the plot, it wasn't made easy to follow. Marlon Brando doesn't do it as the Godfather for me either, although I was impressed with the young Al Pacino as Michael, especially in the second half of the film.

To expand a little bit on why the whole feel of the two are different - the book never mentions the word Mafia, and right from the off it does a very good job of presenting the Corleone family as reasonable upstanding members of the public, demanding respect, but showing respect. Making reasonable offers to people they request favours of, and paying handsomely, etc. It also portrays much better in the book than in the film the people they kill, or intimidate, as bad people who "had it coming". For example, Jack Woltz. In the book it is suggested Waltz is a paedophile, where as in the film there is no suggestion of it. Waltz is simply a hard nosed movie exec, and this makes you sympathise with him more in the film than in the book, and in turn paints the Don in a bad light. Essentially the film is much more overtly Mafia in its style, and really suffers for it. You don't feel any emotion for the family, because you see them as murderers. In the book the motivations are much clearer, the murders justified, and so when major plot twists occur, such as Sonny or Apollina being killed, you feel for the family.

I've rambled a bit here, and I'm not sure I've really got my point across, but if you have seen the film I recommend that you make an effort to read the book, and then let me know what you think! If you are still a Godfather virgin I recommend you read / watch it, because it is a good story, and then let me know what you think!

Dawn's review of the film - "It was pants."

Pacemakers, the running variety

Posted by Chris @ 10:26 AM

I'm not a long distance runner, and I never will be, and so my comments here might be born out of complete ignorance. However that said what's the deal with pacemakers?

Watching the London marathon this morning the women's elite race set off, and up front were two male pacemakers, supposedly there at the request of the women who had specified what pace they wanted to run at. The commentators went on about how pacemaking is becoming an exact science now, and that the men can run at a pace such that they could try and help the women break the 2hr20 barrier.

So what's my problem you ask? Well, isn't long distance running an individual sport, you train for months to run a long distance, and its a race. Not a follow the pacemaker for half the race then race for the second bit. Surely in a running race tactics are what help to make it interesting. If everyone is running behind a pacemaker where's the fun in that? In my mind, any distance race is open to tactics - take the races Kelly Holmes ran at the Olympics, both times she hung back, then sprinted through at the finish. Scale that up to a marathon and can't the same apply here? It would seem not, to have any chance you have to match the pacemaker.

And OK, I concede that there are other pacemakers further back to help the slower group keep to a pace, but why should a pacemaker be needed at all? Self discipline is an inherent part of training for long distances, so why not self discipline during a race?

I don't know, maybe I'm not realistic about this, but I'd like to see people run races unaided. Thoughts?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Local elections

Posted by Chris @ 5:25 PM

As you may or may not be aware, the local council elections take place on the 4th May, and so all the various candidates are sticking leaflets through doors, and our postal voting forms have turned up. There is a couple of things I'd like to mention.

Local elections are just that, electing a representative for your local ward (why is it called a ward?) to get improvements for your area. So not to be too fussy, but shouldn't the candidate at least live in the ward they represent so they can see and be involved in the day to day issues the residents face? I think so, so the Conservatives and Lib Dems have shot themselves in the foot from the off, they're going to need some bloody good propaganda for what they're going to do in my ward to make me vote for them now.

The second thing to note was a candidate for the BNP party. This worries me slightly, one, that he lives a few streets away from us, and two that our ward has got a BNP candidate, meaning the BNP at least think they could get a few votes from us. Again though, this candidate, apart from the fact he represents the BNP, shot himself in the foot with his leaflet, which focused completely on national issues, the only local issue being vote for them to help them stop Barnsley becoming like Leeds and Sheffield! I'm assuming they meant this in a purely racial sense (they cleverly didn't say that), because otherwise I think Barnsley could really benefit from an economic boom and redevelopment! But Barnsley is still not local enough, we're talking about a representative for a ward, not a town, they are blatantly treating this like a general election and just trying to get party votes.

That leaves Labour and an independent candidate on my ballot form. Both of these tick the boxes for living in the ward and having local issues on their propaganda, so I'm going to decide between them.

I'm not often overtly political, but hopefully this post might make you look at your ballot paper a little closer to see where candidates live, and that the issues they say they are going to address are local. I'm interested in what criteria you think are important in a local election, and if you've got a BNP candidate or not, so comment away, whether you agree with me or not!

Holiday Diary

Posted by Chris @ 2:48 PM

Whilst on holiday I kept a small diary of the days events so that the minority who will be interested could read it. This is a long post, so if you're in the majority and don't really care here is a summary. The French held up our departure, it dumped a foot of snow on the second day, we snowboarded and are much better than last year, we got sunburnt, an English woman on skis crashed into me, we came home. For the detail, read on!

Friday
Drove down to Dover with plenty of time, but arrived to be told there was a 1 hour delay due to the lazy French striking over something and blockading the port. Turned out when Rob arrived at Dover it was a 4 or 5 hour delay at best, so we made the risky move of leaving the queue, and drove back to the ticket office at Dover. In the end we got on a Norfolk Line ferry to Dunkirk, which was slower, but the ferry was very nicely done out. On arrival in France we drove for 6.5 hours to get to Dijon and our hotel for the night.

Saturday
Got up and drove the rest of the way to the chalet. A brilliant sunny day, we got stuck in a rare French traffic jam! As we arrived in the Alps the snow was very thin on the ground, and we were a little worried! We did the shopping, got unpacked, and after dinner went for a walk up the river. After a while (and a few falling in deep snow to your waist moments) we found a pub (completely French speaking, local pub), had a few 33cls, and wandered back by the moonlight.

Sunday
Got up around 9.30, and headed out at 11. Got some info from a mate we had in one of the shops in Morzine that Avoriaz had the best of the snow, so headed up there. Weather started out sunny but started to rain! The actual snow though was great, not too packed, ideal really. We had 3 runs down a great blue, actually linking turns on our first day! Dawn was doing really well too, but Kevin struggled to get back into it. Fiona's lessons were definitely paying off the most though, she made it look effortless on her skis. Eventually we gave in to the rain!

Monday
Woke up to heavy rain, which luckily started to turn to snow! We stayed in waiting for it to clear, but it never did, so we ventured into town for a bit, went for a walk down the river, and had a right good snowball fight! With all the snow the slopes are going to be great tomorrow!

Tuesday
Got up early, a foot of snow has fallen! Got to the piste for 9, and didn't come off until 4.15. It was a great day of turning on good blue runs. However in our rush to get to the slopes we forgot the suncream, so we've ended up looking like pandas.

Wednesday
Got up late, but still did 4 runs, conditions OK. One blue run was great, another icy in bits, but overall good. Went to the ice hockey in the evening, Morzine vs. Roanne. I thought Roanne would win based on their warm up, but how wrong I was, they lost 11-4! Still, it was a good game.

Thursday
We tried out the Super Morzine ski area, the conditions were really packed and we didn't like them at all, so we went back to our usual lift area. Had a good few runs, and had lunch at La Pomme de Pin (which I found out is "The Pinecone" in French) it was very good, especially the apple and caramel crepe! Had a run in with a chair lift, which left its mark, along with an English skier! Before I explain this little story, piste rules dictate that people below you have right of way - end of. However this skier, coming down from above me, said excuse me, then promptly turned into me and we crashed (low speed as I'd slowed down on hearing the excuse me.) She then tried to blame me, pretty much expecting that her excuse me would make me magically get out of her way! As she didn't laugh it off like any normal person would, I thought sod this, got up, told her she turned into me, and rode off. By the way, what she should have done is stopped, waited for me to go a bit further down the mountain, and then done her turn. And novice or not, stopping is lesson one, so she could easily have done that. Grrr. In the evening we went out for dinner to the pub we found on the Saturday. I shared a cheese Fondue with Kevin, and Fiona and Martin had Fondue charcuterie, bits of beef you dip into hot oil to cook. It was absolutely delicious! Dawn had a meat platter, full of lovely meats, and the rest were unadventurous and had steaks, they missed out.

Friday
Brilliant sunshine, we headed out to Super Morzine to try it out again, and head over to the Avoriaz side. The sunshine made it really hot in all our gear, and the runs were all flat and a pain to get about on. Plus by lunch the conditions were getting all slushy and sticky. Not much fun at all, so at lunch we called it a day for boarding, and headed into town for a wander and shop. Can't believe how hot it was!

Saturday
Last day on the slopes, so we were up and out early. Conditions were much better today, not sunny, and actually around lunch it rained heavily. This was a God send, as everyone went home thinking it wouldn't stop. An hour later we headed back onto the quiet pistes in the dry, what a wonderful end to the holiday!

Sunday
As our last day before we traveled home we went into town again, and I bought myself a piste basher - well, a model of one! (I hope to have pictures of it in my fake snow I got from Dawn at Xmas soon!) Its wicked! Oh, and we packed.

Monday
Got up, packed the cars and set off by 9, a minor miracle! Traveled all the way up to St Omer, found our hotel and went off for a meal in the local town. Found a nice creperie, and got to watch some of "Je suis une celebrity, sortiez moi de la!" The French Ant and Dec are older, and the tasks seemed easier.

Tuesday
Up and to the ferry port in plenty of time, no delays hurray! Get to England and crawl around the M25. We know we are back in the UK! The holiday is over :o(

Well there you go, that's the diary, if you are still reading this then well done, you are clearly a committed reader of my blog, and I salute you, however as you can see there were no jokes to reward you with. Sorry.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We are back!

Posted by Chris @ 9:20 PM

Well, I thought I'd better put in an appearance here before you all wondered where we'd gone. We've been off snowboarding in Morzine for the past week or so, and much fun it was too. I've got a diary of the holiday to type up and stick on here. It is likely to be quite dull, but some of you might find it interesting!
As usual there are a load of photos, which I'm currently uploading, but I'll let you know where they are all there and ready to view.

New for this year is improved video footage - there are videos of Dawn, Kevin and myself in action, plus a crazy snowboarder doing a jump down a very steep mountain (we were in the right place at the right time!) All of these videos can be found on the photos page in the videos box on the right.

Some other observations whilst we've been away.

  • It seems bird flu hasn't killed every bird in the UK, so that's good, and I'm glad the media have shut up about it, for now.
  • The French are lazy strikers, who feel that blockading ferry ports gets them somewhere, when it doesn't, it just annoys us and makes us dislike the French even more - more on that in the diary.
  • It seems I missed the first in the new series of Doctor Who. Bugger.
  • I read "The Godfather" whilst on holiday; turns out its a good book, and I'm rather looking forward to watching the film for the first time now.

That just about wraps up business for now, diary and photos update coming soon.....

Update Photos now online!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Strokes - Heart in a Cage

Posted by Chris @ 10:45 PM

I heard a song on Radio 1 over the weekend, and I was fairly confident it was by the Strokes, however as usual when you want to know who it is they don't tell you! Anyway this lead me to embark on a musical fact finding mission. After consulting the Radio 1 playlist, there was no mention of the Strokes, so I was thrown off the scent a bit. But I followed my instincts, and haha, I was right.

The song in question was Heart In A Cage, and its brilliant. I'm off to buy their album tomorrow, because I also enjoyed their first single Juicebox as well, and I figure the entire album must be stuffed full of great songs. Good music prevails once again!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

BBC Radio 1 Musicubes

Posted by Chris @ 8:55 PM

Have you ever been asked what music you're in to, and you've just said "a bit of everything". Well now you can help define which bits of everything you actually mean thanks to a groovy new tool from BBC Radio 1, the Musicube.

It is all flash based and simple to use. They present various cubes, and you choose which cubes (genres) make up your Musicube. Sample beats are played as you hover over a cube, just in case you aren't quite sure if you like "dirty house", "soulful house", or just "house" music! You get to pick 10 cubes (each cube is 10% of your Musicube) and once you are done you can put it on your web site, or send it you your friends.

You may have spotted my Musicube in the right column of my website, and it is going to stay there for the foreseeable future. As you can see I'm pretty much a dance person, but I dabble in all flavours of music. And the BBC say when they add new cube genres they'll tell you via an announcement in the cube, which I think is pretty cool.

Obviously this isn't just something the BBC has developed because people were struggling to define their musical tastes - its clearly plugging the "listen again" feature on the website. But, I love the listen again feature, and clicking on each cube to tell me which shows specialise in that genre of music is a great idea. Obviously you need to get your speakers plugged in for the full effect, but I've got to say, hats off to the BBC, job well done.