February 28, 2003
Sorry. Lots on. Decided that was enough slacking and self-pity and it was time to Sort Myself Out. So my brainspace is mainly being dumped onto flipchart pads in the studio at the moment.
Suggestions for places to go:
Why not send some gifts from old favourite it3c?
Why not try and download the Apple Developer CD? At 310MB, it'll take even broadband users back to the heady days of 56K modems and having to download in segments.
Why not listen to "the new 'Im sorry I haven't a clue'" - The 99p Challenge?
Things in the pipeline:
Lots of things my cats are scared of.
Theories and essays. (though if they're any good they'll end up on leaningforward
I may have invented a new project management methodology for products in a changing new media environment. But I may not have done.
Lots of wine notes after tuesday's Rhone tasting
So hang on in there.
February 25, 2003
Law du Sod
Perhaps I need this job more than I thought. Not only has there just been a night of the long knives at the wife's employer (from which she's thankfully escaped - but you wonder for how long) but the desk in the studio has just stopped working.
(Did I mention that the central heating had packed up too?)
Currybet hits jackpot
Martin Belam's absolutely right about his campaign to get people with positive experiences to contact the evening standard about the london congestion charge. I too was in Holborn today for my interview...and it was just lovely. *So* much easier to walk around. And, I'm sorry to mention this, *breathe*.
So, the interview then...
Well, I guess it went pretty well. Got the impression there was a bit of a disparity between the role and the questions they were asking to find out your suitability - I manage project managers, but was asked questions about how I would manage projects, that sort of thing.
Saw one other candidate leaving - she'd be really good too. But with my selfish head on, I've got more pan-BBC experience, and possibly more management experience. But she would be good.
Can't believe I talked non-stop for an hour though. Kept plugging away at what a good manager of people I was - because I really am - but one of the problems with empowering your staff and training them really really well is that you tend not to have that many concrete examples of how you've rescued them from crises. Crises become more tectonic in timescale - you both see them coming, and together steer the ship away from the impending iceberg. (Lovely mixed metaphor, eh?) So it makes it much harder to show your value.
I guess this is the problem with 'front goose in the flight pattern' as opposed to 'command and control' management. It makes it much harder to measure what you yourself do. For all that setting objectives based on abstract measures when I was appraising my fog-project or sausage-machine staff, I didn't get round to doing it myself. A lesson I'll take on.
Anyway, don't hang on for news. There are four of us up for it, and the fourth isn't being seen till next week.
As and when...
February 24, 2003
Absolute gushing enthusiasm
I cannot recommend the two mp3s on The Freelance Hairdresser strongly enough.
If Eminem is going to (indirectly and unknowingly) sample Chas'n'Dave, he has to put up with the rest of our culture too!
Wineblog no 1: Cotes du Rhone Villages - Seguret Domain La Montagne D'Or
So, thanks to The Wine Society, the wife and I were able to pick up our 2000 Rhone valley wines on Saturday. It's a real pleasure buying wines in bond, because of the process of gradual revelation. Not least in terms of price.
A big list turns up filled with exciting sounding things, at prices ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the staggeringly exorbitant. But none of them are quite as much as you think - handy when selling the benefits to your partner.
You order, and money goes out of your credit card. And then, about 18 months later - possibly two years even - you get a slip of paper saying "your wines are in the country, pay the VAT and duty, and you can have them". So you hand over what seems like a *tiny* amount of money, and get all this fab stuff to take home. Most of which you now can't buy.
Anyway, last night we opened the first bottle of our case of 2000 CdR Villages Séguret Domaine La Montagne D'Or. Apparently this will be good from now till 2009 - not bad for a bottle that cost us less than a fiver all in.
It's a really intense purple colour, and is so high in alcohol (14.5%!!!!) that the wine doesn't so much form legs as leave a thick coating on the inside of your glass. The first mouthful was like an enormous punch of cherry flavours, and with the high alcohol level, you couldn't fail to be reminded of black forest gateau. There's a feeling of soft brown sugar, and perhaps something a bit tobacco-ey. I was taken back to all the meals I had when in Cannes for Milia - which was odd because we normally had Bandol - a mourvedre. This is old-vine grenache.
Okay, so it's still a bit astringent and tannic, and for the next couple of years you'd want to have it with food, but it's a truly fabulous find for what we thought would be 'just cheap light plonk'.
Roll on 2005 so the Gigondas is ready!
February 23, 2003
You know you've finally cracked and become old when you look deep inside your soul on a badly-timed evening out and choose to video How to be a Gardener rather than The Brits.
I'm sulking at the moment.
For ages now, I've been incredibly aware that I really *don't* have much of a clue when it comes to the visual arts. Oh, I know what I like, but I don't know why I like it. And I can't see why anyone else likes what they like. Give me a nice bit of Rothko, or a drop of conceptual art. Matisse - what's all the fuss about?
This didn't matter before I got into mainstream new media, because I never came across designers. And it didn't matter when I was in mainstream new media, because then I had designers to worry about that stuff for me. Papering over my cracks, nay chasms. But now I'm out on my own, and I know there's something I'm missing.
A friend back at the beeb once said that loads of people had been trained in how to paint, but schools didn't teach how to draw. How to physically represent something you can see. The craft/tool bit. Which, because it's not about expressing is far less glamourous, but should still be taught. She was in a room of artists at the time, so got a lot of stick for it, but I felt she was right. If I had been taught the basic skills of how to visually represent what I had in my head, the discipline of looking, and looking again, and making sure you know what you're going to do before you put pen to paper, and how to steer your hands, then I'd be a lot more capable of representing concepts to others. A lot.
So, I decided it was time to try and tackle this. To learn some of the principles of design, of composition, of what makes my pictures snaps, and my wife's photographs.
For the last few days I've been wandering around with a digital camera, taking photos of stuff that interests me, and then coming back to iPhoto to find out if any of what I'd intended actually came across.
And normally it didn't. Just because of really stupid stuff that I simply didn't know. Of things I don't even look for in real life. The rule of thirds, vanishing points, stuff like that. It's just so bloody obvious. And I sort of knew it all along, even if I didn't know I knew it.
When I was on the Robert McKee 'Story' course, I learnt that one of the most common mistakes of novice scriptwriters is to have dialogue where characters say what they mean. Thereby rendering it unactable. An actor will look at the words and try to work out what they should project from it, struggling because the words mean what they are.
My pictures are currently about themselves. You look at my pictures to find what you should be looking for, and there's nothing there. Because it's all slap bang in the centre - a diagram, not a picture.
I feel a fool. And, as graciously as my wife has explained this to me, I'm sulking about having to learn a new thing that was so simple.
What noone tells you in the apple ads
Is that getting the data off of your old powerbook belonging to work, and onto your new powerbook you own, is going to take the best part of two fecking days. Particularly if you want little things like your iTunes ratings to carry on working. And outlook 2001 - don't talk to me about outlook 2001...
Mind you, it is gorgeous. Noticeably faster, with a smoother keyboard, and seems just a little more robust generally.
TuneCam Gets An Upgrade
But decides it's going to, erm, enhance its realestate on my site. Normal service will be resumed once I've found out what the hell they've done with the latest version...
Things move on
February 21, 2003
Just realised that I haven't got round to adding the fab audi olympics to my blogroll. Which also means I haven't been reading as much as I should.
Apologies Nigel. Its fixed now.
February 20, 2003
And there's his friend Dubya too...
The transcripts of the AIM chats on Realjesus are just fabulous. In a sort of really really childish way. Reminds me of the 'history today' sketches, or Ali G. With a sort of South Park twist.
February 14, 2003
Belated Pier Review
Only just noticed Simon's pics of the recent Brighton Pier fire. Being not from news footage, they seem more, well, real.
I think that, as an inveterate reader of record sleeve info, not enough is being made of the fact that the voice on Lemon Jelly's current single 'Nice Weather For Ducks' is none other than Enn Reitel - voice star of Spitting Image, guest on Whose Line etc etc.
[Young people - this is like discovering a really great record in 15 years time has Alistair McGowan or Jon Culshaw on it]
We think people should be told!
Okay, so after a fortnight of pre-leaving-do drinks, leaving-dos, celebrations of being free, comiseration drinks and networky get-togethers I wake up this morning with the shocking realisation that there is absolutely NO alcohol in my system whatsoever.
But it's certainly in the cellar. Cases of the stuff. And its friends. Waiting. Calling to me. Catching my eye when I go down to get a bottle of water. At 9am. Reminding me that it's not healthy to feel like this. This clarity isn't good. Not natural. Best get back to that vague fuzzy state you do so well and charmingly...
Any advice from anyone out there?
So I'm trying to get home from seeing Rob XPT the other night, and both the circle and hammersmith&city lines are down. I.E. I can't get home. So I stop by a cab company only to be hailed as I press their 'call cab' button.
'Where are you going to?'
Now by this stage I've had a few drinks, so I'm more than happy to cough up for the fact I'm *finally* on my way home. So I get into the back.
'So, where *is* liverpool street? I've not been doing this long" he says.
'Turn right here and I'll give you directions' I sigh. 'Have you got a map?'
So, I pay a tenner to mapread myself to a station, using my own map.
And, do you know what? I was still happy just to be going home.
February 13, 2003
For those who read and care - a meeting breakdown:
1 There's a recession out there. But you'll survive. Go talk to Endemol, and Proctor and Gamble. People always need soap powder.
2 Lovely people. With some great ideas. In a kind of collectivey way. But need to understand 'The Audience'. Will probably end up helping them out.
3 Really really good. Sounds incredibly promising. What a joy to meet someone that, from within my little cloistered world, seemed so powerful and so scary - yet who was completely my peer, and needed more people like himself. Fingers so so so *so* crossed on this one.
4 Another top one. These guys are very interesting. Loads of good ideas and fabulous skills. If they get more work than they can cope with they'll be in touch.
Not a bad two days work really. Will concentrate on piano practice and my wine collection for the rest of the week I think.
Oh, hitlist for next week: Mook, Ogilvy, Tiger Aspect, Emap.
1) Don't assume you're going to remember all the things you were going to blog. Your ability to remember them decreases according to how witty they were.
2) My new powerbook is stock. Yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
February 10, 2003
NTL define 'normal'
Interesting article from The Register about NTL's decision to cap bandwidth usage at 1GB/day for domestic users. Their description of how many music tracks this means rather remind me of Apple or Tivo's slightly over-inflated claims about how much you can store on their iPod/Thomson boxes.
Yes, 1GB is 200 music tracks, if you only listen to short-form pop at crap quality, in mono.
It's going to singlehandedly cut down the amount of progrock or freeform jazz downloaded...could this be the secret agenda?
February 07, 2003
and scaly and smoky and sweaty and generally nasty this morning. But with an enormous grin on my face.
Today is the beginning of something new. And it's really exciting.
I won't deny that my first feeling when I woke was one of huge panic - I'm actually very scared about what's going to happen - but the feeling of goodwill that I got last night from those around me gave me a bit of the strength I need to go out into the world and do good stuff.
I've got IM contacts for loads of people, and I've sent a few emails of the 'hows yer head' variety about last night, but really feel it's time to stop now. I need to make something of a break, or I'll perpetually be living my life in the 'was' rather than the 'will'. Give myself a few days of withdrawl - contact with these people should now be a choice rather than a habit. It's slightly sad to do that, but I console myself with the thought that I'll be back. Without the clinginess.
Ah, yes, well
So the promised blogging didn't quite happen. But a lot of drinking did. It was lovely. Fab present from my colleagues too - a bottle of wine for every year I'd been at the beeb. Including some truly fabulous stuff!
A truly good bunch, doing great stuff. Can't wait to be back. Circumstances permitting - either way!
February 05, 2003
Tomorrow it's time to leave this place. Expect a lot of blogging as I've peaked too early, and haven't actually got that much to do.
Loads of meetings lined up for next week which is very exciting - Channel5, Endemol, Preloaded blah blah. Which is lovely, but a bit of a sod as I was expecting to have at least a week off to prat around. Mind you, it's probably for the best as I might never get around to starting again...
The Evil Influence Of Women
As we all know, Vic Reeves has become a changed man since he started going out with that blonde woman, but this proves that it's not for the better.
Just as well Bob Mortimer's got a nice little career as a TV Exec starting off. Oh, and is far funnier anyway.
February 04, 2003
Cuthbert Dibble and Grubb
Truly shocking pictures of the Brighton Palace Pier fire. It's not often you see something you know really well ablaze - and can imagine being there in such detail...
February 03, 2003
Spirit of the Blitz
Odd moment of cameraderie from last week: On the way home from work - normally an easy journey, from one end of the central line to the other - I was surrounded by loads of other utterly hacked-off people who'd been travelling for two hours and still weren't home. Piling onto a rail replacement bus at Stratford we grumpily sit there to Leyton, begrudging those sods whose journey was already ending. Settling down to another ten minutes of thousand-yard-stare before we get to the next stop we're all suddenly shocked into awareness by the fact that the bus driver has taken a wrong turning. He doesn't know where we're going!
There's nothing for creating a bit of human bonding than the participative experience of 20 people all trying to get the bus on track. Shouting out directions, passing the reins of control on as you finally hit your stop, knowing how bad it *could* have been if we hadn't all pulled together...
It lightened the soul at a grim time.
February 02, 2003
What some people do when snow falls
Thanks to the fab Tim Jokl for this fabulous schoolboy-style image of two penises.
Pass it on...