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Sep
9

Out with the old...

It might not look like it but... I've completely overhauled my blogging software (Movable Type). It turns out I've been using the same old version (3.2) since my very first blog post and it's long been due for an update.

Ironically it was security problems with its competitor (Wordpress) that prompted the change. At work we've been frantically updating all our Wordpress installations and I figured some spit and polish on my personal blog would be nice too. (It looks a lot nicer behind the scenes)

The only real visible changes are that I've been forced to say goodbye to the blog roll (links to other blogs) due to a technical issue and in its place is a spanking new 'most popular posts' section - on the right.

Expect some other little changes here and there over the coming days... I might even update my photo.

Jun
26

The Weirdest 24 Hours

ian-child.jpgJust over a week ago my very close friend Ian Loveday (aka EON aka Binty aka many other monikers) passed away from a very rare reaction to Pneumonia. It was a total shock and nobody expected it. Only now am I beginning to come to terms with it. Only now can I begin to write about it.

I've never lost a close friend before and I've never organized a funeral before. It's all been very difficult, emotional and surreal.

One of the things we are going to do for our friend, who will be buried on Monday, is organize a grey/silver coffin. He liked silver and was a huge sci-fi fan - shows like Star Trek, The Outer Limits, Quatermass Experiment. The practicalities of this meant that yesterday lunchtime I found myself in the basement of the Funeral Directors, with Keith, a burly, tattooed man who looks like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. Keith is the man who does the stuff that the rest of us don't want to think about. We need people like Keith, and they're a very strange breed indeed.

Seeing Keith's 'workshop' was surreal. I was there to pick out fittings for my friend's coffin. I'm pretty sure the body under a blanket on a gurney a few feet away from me was my friend. Rows and rows of coffins lined the walls. Boxes of fittings, tools, and a coffin lift. I chose the fittings as quickly as I could, said my goodbye to Keith, who cheerily told me he would be a pall bearer on Monday (only wearing "different clothes") and I walked away, trying to make sense of the experience I'd just had.

The day had started emotionally, the most emotional since I'd learned my friend was in critical condition in hospital. In the morning I'd sat down to write my funeral speech. As I typed the last sentence I completely broke down. I broke down again a few moments later in the bathroom.

I spent the afternoon working on a presentation DVD that will be shown at the funeral with photos and quotes about Ian. Some of the quotes that have been flooding in are really remarkable. Ian was an underground music producer but had a dedicated fanbase. Going through those photos and quotes I broke down again. It was all beginning to sink in that my friend really was gone.

A get together with other close friends of Ian in the evening proved a welcome distraction. We were meeting with the lady who will conduct the ceremony, with the idea to recount stories about Ian for her benefit. It was a chance for us all to get together again and discuss final preparations for the funeral.

Later I was breaking down when I found myself chatting alone with Ian's girlfriend. I've been pretty solid the past week, but that strength and support for the people around me finally folded. I had to break the news to her about Ian's death, and his dad, and had picked up Jo - a broken woman - in the street on the way to hospital.

It was around this time last night that another very close friend of mine texted me to let me know he'd become a dad for the first time. Dan and I have been friends since school and live very close to one another. After the birth of my son we'd both really been looking forward to the day when our two kids could play together. This was a joyous moment in an otherwise depressing day.

Dan told me his child had been born at St Mary's - the same hospital that my friend died a week earlier. Life is definitely weird, and now the circle of life is complete. I went from sadness to joy very quickly.

Since his wife was staying over at the hospital and Dan couldn't stay overnight, I invited him round to join us. He could have steered clear of a 'funeral planning meeting' but he didn't. He's good like that. I picked up a bottle of Champagne and with Ian's friends we toasted a celebration in his honour.

Seconds later we learned that Michael Jackson had died...

It was all getting a bit much, and talk of Michael Jackson and the wall-to-wall coverage we were now seeing on CNN threatened to completely overshadow my friend's night. We bailed, and I took Dan down the pub where they wouldn't serve us. Last call had finished and despite the valiant efforts of some of the locals, we were left high... and dry.

We decided to head back to our neighbourhood to a pub we know well. Last orders had finished but this time we were successful. You can always rely on your local I guess. We found ourselves in a discussion with strangers about Michael Jackson.

We ended up back at my friend's flat, a flat in waiting for the new baby. It was the last night it would be a flat without a baby, and probably the last time I'll visit the place before my friends move house. This alone would usually have been surreal.

I woke up this morning and for the first time in days I didn't break down. The mornings have been the hardest. I had to persuade a council worker that... Monday, the day of the funeral, was a really bad day to be digging up the pavement outside my house rendering my parking spot inaccessible.

I drove to my office, and to top off the weirdest 24 hours I can remember, I arrived to find my dear old neighbour Ethel, who I regularly share tea with, fix her TV and stereo, and listen to stories about the really old days, had passed away. The funeral had been yesterday.

I guess I will have two graves to visit now.

It's all very numbing. Under normal circumstances I might actually care that Michael Jackson has died. Frankly right now I am only thinking about the people who've left me, and the people who are still with me.

It's a cliche, but... life is short, you must enjoy it. Because you never know when the great starship in the sky will come to take you away...

Apr
6

Where's that UK TV Series Shot?

tv-map.jpgEver wanted to know where Balamory really is? Or every TV show shot in London? Or all TV series that are set in Newcastle?

Question no more thanks to this great geographical map of UK TV series put together by Guardian Head of Communities Meg Pickard.

She's done a super job pulling it all together and has even gone way back to the likes of Hancock's Half Hour and the Good Life.

I asked her via Twitter why in fact there were two Balamory locations and she explained that it is set/filmed in Tobermory but one of the character's houses is in East Lothian. So there you have it.

The map was inspired by a map of US sitcoms put together by cartoonist Dan Meth who has one of the all-time best personal blog photos I've ever seen.

Jan
24

End of the End - A London club institution closes its doors

end_nightclub.pngIn 1986 I first postulated the idea of 'headphone raving'. Get a club, fill it with people, give them all wireless headphones and have no sound system at all. The sight of a crowd dancing without any music would be priceless.

In 1992 I shared this idea with friend and former Shamen frontman and DJ Mr C. Now tonight, for the first time I will get to see this idea in action.

The End Nightclub was co-founded by Mr C and partner Layo Paskin (of Layo and Bushwacka fame) back in 1996. A rare breed in clubland it managed to maintain its credibility throughout its 13 year history despite being a large venue. Tonight it closes its doors for the last time and to honour the occasion they are closing off the street outside and will extend the party outdoors. The headphone raving idea will be used, neatly sidestepping noise regulations. It's expected the party will go on all day Sunday.

Myself and some old friends are going for the final hurragh which includes sets by Mr C, Fatboy Slim and Laurent Garnier among others. If I remember (dubious), I will try to do some live video via Qik. If you follow me on Twitter you'll get the notifications of the live broadcasts.

I know Layo and C are in two minds as to whether they made the right decision to close the club, but it's had a far longer run than anyone would have expected, and that's a credit to them and the priceless procession of music luminaries that have passed through the door, consistently delivering superb music, kudos and vibes.

Long live the End...

Jan
8

vBulletin 3.8 released - does deal with Google?

vBulletin the most popular forum software on the Internet has today released version 3.8 and the major new feature is the addition of built-in Google Adsense support. Still looking into this but it appears that Jelsoft, makers of the software, have done a deal with Google according to this official post on vBulletin.org. In it a representative says "It is a standard basic implementation developed in cooperation with Google".

Dec
20

The Great Fish Slapping Caper

This is the video of a publicity stunt that our friend Jay Nguyen CEO of Sweemo.com did on Wednesday, Jay was looking for a way to promote the launch of his new 'sweet moments' site, a cool ebay-like site for bidding on interesting adventures and outings.

Jay offered an auction for the opportunity to 'slap the CEO in the face with a fish', and fly whomever won from anywhere in the world to do so in Trafalgar Square. In the end a rather large guy from Texas won, and he would appear to have got his moneys worth...

Jul
18

Screenshots from my 1995 computer

Was doing a search on my computer today and happened upon these... all screenshots from my computer thirteen years ago.

As I have mentioned before I am no stranger to the 'hoard everything' party. In fact.. I may just be on the board of Directors. I have to say though, sometimes it's pretty cool when you find stuff like this.

Continue reading "Screenshots from my 1995 computer" »

Jul
14

Seedcamp 2008 Applications open

seedcamp.pngFor any budding entrepreneurs out there, Seedcamp is Europe's answer to Y! Combinator in the States, and is a way to get seed funding in return for a small stake in your business.

This year's Seedcamp applications are now open, and the deadline for applications is August 10th. While you don't need to be a UK business, you will need to confirm you can move to London between September to November this year.

For key dates and a full application guide, head on over to the Seedcamp website.

Mar
31

Tech Clearout

tech_clearout.jpgAnyone who knows me knows I'm a bit of a hoarder... three storage units and counting, I really need to find time to go through some of that stuff.

Well this little clearout won't make much of a dent in that but the very fact I've managed to drag myself to throw anything away is a step in the right direction.

Have decided I really do no longer have any need for a 33.3 modem card for a PC, a 1990's Mac SCSI adaptor and a broken PC video card. Oh yeah, I haven't lived permanently in North America for 7 years so some of my US power cables get the chop too.

Tech cathartism!

Mar
4

Swear words and other languages

Wikipedia has a detailed and long post on the subject of profanity. Reading through it I came across this classic section...

"A profane word in one language often sounds like an ordinary word in another; such words are called false friends. Fuck sounds like the French words for "seal" (phoque) and jib (foc), the Spanish words for "seal" (foca) and lightbulb (foco) or the Irish word for "words" (focail), as well as the Latin and Romanian words for "do" ("I do" can be facio in Latin or fac eu in Romanian, which sounds a lot like the English "fuck you"). Arabic for "think" sounds just like "you fucker". Also, the Croatian word fakat sounds similar to the English "fuck at" when it actually means "factually". "Fuck" also sounds like the Latin imperative singular form of "do" or "make" (fac) and the Swedish word for "union" (fack); shit sounds somewhat like the Russian for "shield" (щит).

Continue reading "Swear words and other languages" »

Feb
29

E-Mail overload? 64,000 e-mails in one year

We all suffer from it - email overload. It just keeps coming and coming...

I thought I'd delve into this and find out just how much time I spend dealing with the never ending digital flow... These are my stats for 2007*

  • E-mails received... 64,632
  • Percentage that were junk... 41%
  • Average non-junk e-mails per day... 104
  • E-mails sent... 3,787
  • Sent e-mails per day... 10.4
  • Time spent answering e-mail... 445 hours

So in other words, I spent 11 weeks out of my year dealing with 100 incoming messages a day, and writing 10 emails. This probably doesn't include the time spent thinking about a response or whatever.

I think we really need to have a global nom@il day. And soon please!

If you'd like to send me an e-mail about this...


*Figures derived from Eudora

Feb
28

Global Twitter usage

We did some work today at WorldTV which showed that 5% of our users are Twitter users.

Sep
15

Like Clockwork

John Clive Clockwork OrangeNot many people know this but my dad played a role in Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange'. As an actor he appeared in a lot of different roles, but for me, as a teenager growing up, nothing ever quite beat the 'cool' factor of his association with this movie.

I'd not watched it for a long time, but tonight, my wife and I sat through it, and I was reminded again of just how brilliant a movie it really is.

The part my father plays is a small one, but memorable. He plays the role of 'The Tormenter', the guy who when Alex, the protagonist, is being shown to an audience to be reformed, appears on stage and abuses him, punching him in the chest and pushing him to the ground. He then makes Alex lick his boots.

As I was watching the movie I began wondering where a lot of the locations were that they used to shoot the film. When it got to my dad's part, I wondered where the auditorium was that they used for that scene.

Rewind a few hours to earlier today and I was driving out to Heathrow to meet Ashley my business partner. I figured I'd scoot round the M25 to Terminal 4, but just before I got there, I heard a traffic report saying there'd been a terrible accident. I exited the motorway just in time, and began working my way through the weird no-mans land that is north-west of the airport - an area I'd never in my life driven through before. I ended up driving through the town of Uxbridge and for some reason noticed and made a strange mental note of Brunel University, something I had heard of before but never knew where it was.

Fast forward again to about an hour ago and I decide to do a Google search on 'A Clockwork Orange' to find out the locations for the movie. There, in black and white, is the location for the auditorium scene - Brunel University, Uxbridge.

Serendipity is a funny thing sometimes but this was an odd one. Stranger still was reading that 'Alex' had his ribs cracked while shooting that particular scene. Did my dad really break Malcolm McDowell's ribs?

I'll have to ask him tomorrow...!

Malcom McDowell humiliation sceneUPDATED - Just got off the phone with my dad and he confirmed that Malcom McDowell did injure himself during the filming of the humiliation scene. It was when my dad put his foot on Malcom McDowell's chest while McDowell is lying on the floor. He's not sure if he cracked his ribs or not but said it was quite possible - McDowell was complaining of being quite hurt afterwards.

Some other trivia... Kubrick cleared all the crew out of the theatre while the three of them rehearsed the scene. In the part where my dad slaps McDowell's face, he wanted my dad to do it for real even during rehearsal. He made him do it several times saying "I want you to really hit him". My dad, still reticent to hurt McDowell slapped him a bit harder but Kubrick said "that's phoney". My dad then had a chat with McDowell behind the curtain and said "Listen I'm going to have to really hit you this time". McDowell said "Don't worry about it, yesterday I had a hypodermic syringe stuck up my arse!" The two of them went out and my dad hit him so hard that spit flew out of his mouth.

Clive Kubrick POVAfter shooting the scene for real my dad was called back the next day to give Kubrick an extra shot. Kubrick wanted a point of view shot of my dad from the perspective of Alex lying on the floor. As Kubrick had been a cameraman, he himself shot this, and laid down on the floor with my dad putting his heel into Kubrick's chest.

One bit of confusion. My father doesn't remember the location for the scene actually being at Brunel University. He remembers it as being a library theatre in Norwood, South London. While he says he can't be 100% sure - "it's a long time ago son" - he says he's almost certain it was Norwood near Croydon. No mention of Norwood on the location page on IMDB.

The plot thickens...

Jul
18

Illegal bank charges in the UK (& how to claim them back)

It's not often that you get to stick it to the man, but here in the UK a minor revolution is going on, and millions of people are set to benefit from it.

For several years now, banks in England have been levying absurdly high charges against their customers for stretching over their overdraft limit or for miscalculating a direct debit payment. In most countries this isn't even possible, but in the UK it is, thanks to a highly inefficient banking system.

Continue reading "Illegal bank charges in the UK (& how to claim them back)" »

Jun
3

Comments working again (No entry_id error)

Comments are working again on the blog after nearly a month without them. While I don't relish the need once again to have to filter through automated spam comments (joy), it is a relief to have everything working again for the real people out there.

In case the solution is useful to anyone else running Movable Type on their blog, here is the fix that worked here at WorldTV to solve the No entry_id error. It was an annoying problem to solve but in the end pretty easy to do.

Continue reading "Comments working again (No entry_id error)" »

Jun
1

Comments not working

Comments are currently not working on the blog. I will try to get it sorted asap. By the looks of things they have not been working since the beginning of the month.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Catching up

Firstly an apology to regular readers for the rather formulaic WorldTV posts of late.

All this excitement about preparing WorldTV for launch has left me rather devoid of time for other posts. A belated honeymoon with the wife, a growing addiction to Facebook, and a first child on the way has added to the mild confusion.

It's been an exciting day round here though - news that RCTV in Venezuela were beginning to put out their now banned broadcasts via YouTube spurred us to rebroadcast them in a WorldTV style. It should be a good test of our hardware and systems and is leading us to develop some new features which will benefit all users.

We were shocked by the actions of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez in silencing the independant media in a move that can only be seen as leading to a dictatorship. Should the government there move to block YouTube, we hope to be able to offer an alternative source for RCTV's bulletins out of Caracas for Venezuelan's worldwide.

If you don't know about the situation in Venezuela, read up on it. It's a pretty worrisome state of affairs. In the past I've always thought of Hugo Chavez as something of a welcome revolutionary, but when you silence the opposition media, push through bills that eliminate elections (thus allowing indefinite terms of office) and create new laws for creating new laws (so they don't have to be referred to Parliament), revolution turns to something more sinister.

Mar
23

Rat poison in dog's food

Menu FoodsJust arrived in Toronto and the big story here is an Ontario based pet food manufacturer that is facing almost certain demise after it has been discovered that Aminopterin, a reported rat poision, found its way into dog food.

Many dogs have died and hundreds of thousands of owners across North America are worried their dog could be next. 60 million dog food products are being recalled.

Just watching the press conference live now on CityPulse 24.

Crazy.

Feb
22

Driving Shots

I've always loved driving shots, both when I used to be a TV cameraman shooting video (and occasionally Super 8) and now whenever I travel. Somehow they're just cool.

Here's some from my current daily journey into the office...

Driving shot USSR


Driving shot USSR 2


Driving shot USSR 3

And some of my favourites from the past...

Continue reading "Driving Shots" »

Dec
14

Borat Video Clips Site

Actually launched a month ago, I've only got round to linking this now...

It's a site we put together to highlight the very best Borat video clips on the net.

We think you like it very much. Nice.

Aug
30

CNN anchor caught with her trousers down

If you've not seen it yet, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips got caught in a pretty embarassing position yesterday when she went to the bathroom during a live press conference featuring President Bush, and had her wireless microphone left on by an audio engineer. Her conversation with an unknown female, including some rather derogatory comments about her sister-in-law, went out live on air.

Presenters typically switch off their mics when they take a 'break', if only so crew members can't listen in to their conversations, but in this case clearly she forgot.

Video link here. Transcript here.

Aug
24

Pink Floyd Director finds lost moon footage

High resolution film footage of the original Apollo 11 moon landing, never before seen by the public, has surfaced in an Australian's personal film collection. The collection belongs to Peter Clifton, a rock video director who made films and videos for Pink Floyd.

It turns out the footage we all know was recorded off a TV screen by a video camera. In other words, the quality is way below what was on the original recording.

NASA has lost the original recordings in a maze of government archives. The footage found by Peter Clifton is expected to lead to the discovery of the originals.

More info here.

Aug
21

Snakes on a plane - for real

With all the hype about the current movie "Snakes on a Plane", I thought I'd pass on this real life story.

On August 25th 2003, passengers on a British Airways flight travelling from Heathrow to Cairo, were terrified to see a real live snake slitthering around in their cabin. There was a mild panic as crew members tried to capture the snake and calm down worried passengers. The snake was ultimately captured and its owners - a group of passengers travelling under diplomatic immunity - fessed up that the snake was theirs. The plane carried on towards Cairo, and the snake and its owners were ultimately re-united.

This scan is the telex (telex??) sent between airline staff discussing the incident. It's quite amusing.

It reads...

ATTENTION ALL / (NAME WITHELD) CUSTOMER SERVICE SUPERVISORS CAIRO
RE SNAKE INCIDENT FOR BA155 / 25AUG KINDLY FIND THE FOLLOWING:

CABIN SERVICES DIRECTOR INFORMS ME THAT THERE IS 6 PASSENGERS IN BUSINESS CLASS AFFECTED BY THE SIGHT OF SNAKE BUT THEY ARE OK NOW.

PASSENGERS NAME AND ADDRESS AS FOLLOWS: (WITHELD)

ALL AFFECTED PASSENGERS MET AND ASSISTED AT AIRCRAFT AND PASSENGER RECEIVED HIS SNAKE FROM THE CABIN SERVICES DIRECTOR AT THE END OF THE FLIGHT.

CAPTAIN ISSUED AIR SAFETY REPORT WITH WHOLE INCIDENT.

THANKS AND BEST REGARDS.

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