Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

Posted by Chris @ 8:22 PM

I'm an Arctic Monkeys fan, I like their music, I loved their first album, so like any good music fan I went and bought their new album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, yesterday. I listened to it yesterday evening, and I'm blogging about it tonight, interesting that, init?

Anyway, “what is the album like?” I hear you shouting. Well, truth be told, on first listen not as good as the first album, but then that was always going to be hard to follow. But don't get me wrong, this is still a very good bit of music and highly enjoyable, and I suspect after a few more listens it will grow on me, and I'll love it just as much as the first one.

Not a terribly in-depth review, I'll grant you that, but it is serving its purpose to highlight the new album and let you know it isn't bad! So go buy it and have a listen...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I've updated the search page

Posted by Chris @ 9:03 PM

I've finally got around to updating my search page that I mentioned back in February so that it works with the Google AJAX Search API for the Google Search and Google Blog Search. I've also removed the MSN search tab as that was getting a bit useless, and the options to change the scope of the search between my website and the wider web. If you want to search the wider web, go to a search website!

The Google AJAX Search API certainly is quick in operation, but it is an absolute bitch to implement, it has taken me a few evenings to get it looking how I wanted. Maybe because that is not how Google intended it to be used, or maybe I've just been a bit stupid. Has anyone else used it, what were your experiences?

Right, next, according to my post in February, is the sitemaps site wide validator....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review of the Samsung LE26R88BD

Posted by Chris @ 2:15 PM

Oh. My. God.

As you will have seen, we ordered a new Samsung LCD TV last weekend, well today it arrived. It is spectacular, fantastic, amazing, jaw dropping, sharp, bright, and most of all, shiny (which equals wife friendly ;o))

Seriously, we got it hooked up in no time, switched it on (with its fancy pants touch buttons on the side) and gasped. But enough gushing about how great it is, here is some proper information.

Samsung LE26R88BD

The R8 series of LCD TVs from Samsung is its latest and greatest range, and they're not lying. The contrast, colour, brightness and response times are all top drawer. I can't really fault the picture at all, you can fiddle with it to your hearts content if you want to, but it doesn't need it. Some of the features Samsung talk about on their website, such as DNIe and movie plus really work. Especially the movie plus one, you'll have all seen the judder some LCD TVs suffer from displaying fast moving action, but not this baby, I'm well chuffed.

In terms of it being a digital TV tuner I can't really comment on it, as we use our other piece of essential kit, our Humax 9200T, to handle that side of things. But in terms of displaying a digital TV source it looks good. The best bit is that we now have a widescreen TV, so no more letter box for us (except for those super wide DVDs). Even though it is only 5 inches bigger than our 4:3 21" the picture seems so much bigger because it isn't in a letter box.

Samsung LE26R88BD

And all of this is on a regular TV source, no high definition stuff yet, so it really can only get better! Finally on a styling front I really like this TV, it does look really good, and has a little blue LED light built into the frame near the bottom (which you can switch off), but I've not fully seen that yet as I've not seen it at night.

Samsung LE26R88BD

So after this great review you want to buy one right? Good because it is a bargain! (Don't leave it for 15 months Tony ;o)) In all the high street stores you'll find it around the £600 mark, but shop online and you can get £100 knocked off that price. I got ours from Dixons, and in fact it is even cheaper now, £483.30!! Well, I think my review here is done, the TV is the best of the bunch, at a price that is staggeringly low, what more do you people want!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hackday London

Posted by Chris @ 7:36 PM

I've just signed up for Hackday in London next June. I'm very excited about it, because this is the first Web 2.0 conference, event, hack day, bar camp thing I've signed up for and wanted to attend, and think I'll enjoy a lot. For those who don't know what a Hack Day is, it is where lots of developers get into a big room, and make something in 24 hours, using API's and the like, whilst having access to pizza, beer, a band, and some esteemed colleagues from the likes of Yahoo and the BBC.

They've said they are screening applications to make sure people are developers, and likely to hack away, rather than the thinking types who talk lots and don't do much, so hopefully my place is sealed with my efforts on BBC Touch, but we shall see.

The only problem now, I need a laptop. I've had a very generous offer of a G3 Mac laptop to use, which I might accept, but I'm used to developing on Windows so I'm not sure how that will work, hopefully it won't dimish my l33t skills too much. Anyway, got to get accepted first, wish me luck....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Holy Samsung!

Posted by Chris @ 5:13 PM

I don't know what has come over Dawn and I this weekend, but suffice to say I've just ordered a brand new Samsung LE26R88BD, with the full support of Dawn, due for delivery on Saturday. It has only just been released, looks amazing, and due to the power of Froogle I saved one hundred quid on the in-store price online, so I'm well chuffed. Can't wait to get it now, I'll give it a review on here when we do though, tv-tastic!

Our Samsung TV is on order

Monday, April 09, 2007

Scalextric Challenger

Posted by Chris @ 3:59 PM

The Christmas before last (2005) Dawn bought me the Scalextric Challenger system, essentially an intelligent car that will learn any circuit, then you can race against it (I'd got the Scalextric track the Christmas before.) It sounded great, as I'd got pretty bored of racing myself!

Anyway, to cut what could be a rambling blog post short, that Christmas I failed to get it working, every corner it just flew off the track. Very frustrating.

Cut to this Easter and I've got it out again, 1 yr 4 months on. One thing the instructions say is the track and car tyres should be clean, and given that they weren't that clean up in Carlisle (roaming dog = dog hairs) I gave everything a clean, and hey presto, it worked!

What is really surprising is the difference the littlest bit of dirt on the track or tyres has on the Challenger car. It literally loses grip and flies off the track! After every 4 of 5 races cleaning the wheels on a bit of sticky tape gets rid of an unbelievable amount of dirt. And it is quite staggering the performance increase you get, simply put the cars grip again.

So, if you've suffered problems with the Scalextric Challenger car, or simply need to clean your track or tyres, here are my top tips:

  • Wipe the entire track with a damp cloth to clean it and get rid of any hidden grime.
  • Use a lint roller (a sticky roller usually used to get dog hairs and bits off clothes, you can get them from Wilkos) to clean the tyres (it is much easier than messing around with sticky tape.)
  • For the full effect use the lint roller on the track too!
  • And finally and most importantly of all, do this often to maintain your track and tyres in top condition, you really will get the best out of your Scalextric track if you do!

So with all that said to prove it works I filmed my Scalextric Challenger car going around my track; Challenger versus the Bat Mobile and Challenger going Solo, enjoy!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Big Brother 8

Posted by Chris @ 5:05 PM

Today is the 1st April. You know what that means, in just over a month Big Brother 8 / 2007 will be back on our screens to take over our summer. And apparently they are building a brand new house for this year, ooo.

You heard the Big Brother 8 blog-o-sphere hype here first folks!!

The Milestone, Sheffield

Posted by Chris @ 4:49 PM

After a recommendation from Chris to try The Milestone for Sunday lunch last night, today we did just that. The roast beef was amazing. I don't know what they put in that gravy, but by God it tasted good. The pint of dark smoked bitter I had was good too, once you got over the initial bitterness.

Downsides, the chocolate fondant Dawn ordered for dessert didn't have runny chocolate in the middle like it should, it was all baked, and we had to wait a while for the dessert too because, once again their small kitchen meant whilst they were serving a large party upstairs, the entire food operation for the bar downstairs ground to a halt. However it didn't spoil our meal, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, in summary, main food amazing, pudding could have been better but still good, and food timing needs work from the kitchen, but the waiting staff did a good job.

The Rite of Spring

Posted by Chris @ 3:48 PM

Another Saturday night, another of Liv's orchestra concerts! However this time it was special, because after the relatively dull Schumann Symphony no. 1 in B flat 'Spring' we were treated to a fantastic second half.

First came Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor by Bach, orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski (more on this is a second) and then The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky.

Wow, what a piece of music. I've listened to a bit of classical music, thanks to my dad listening to a lot of it during my childhood, and we've been to a few classical concerts now too, but this simply knocks the socks of anything I've heard before. I loved it, Dawn loved it, I was sat there smiling whilst listening to it. I must have looked like a mental, but I didn't care, because it was fantastic. It is raw, challenging, thundering, abrupt, I'm not surprised it caused a riot at its debut. If you've always thought classical music a bit dull, a bit unengaging then give this a listen. Even if it is the only piece of “classical” music you listen too, listen to it! You may not like it, not everyone does, but I loved it. Thank you Sheffield Symphony Orchestra for playing it!

The second piece I mentioned was great too. Stokowski's arrangement for orchestra of this original pipe organ piece is a variation on a theme, containing 20 variations, and each variation builds and builds until the most fantastic ending. Give it a listen if you can.

On giving things a listen too, this site seems good for getting hold of free classical music recordings - Classic Cat. And surprisingly on YouTube you can get videos of Stokowski's performances. Of course these may not seem as amazing as seeing them performed live, but that's your loss, not mine!!