December 2004 | Main | February 2005

January 19, 2005

With knobs on.

"Moog" documentary at the ICA - must see this.

via Tim

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Not the Greenwich classic.

The editorial independence of fancyapint is going strong in this review of Cutty Sark, Thamesmead

The worst pub in Thamesmead. Or, if you prefer, the best. As far as we could establish, this is the only boozer in the entirety of Zhilmass SE28 and, like anything that seeks to be all things to all people (or, at any rate, all things to all inhabitants of an isolated dystopia), the Cutty Sark disappoints.

Do read it in full. And make sure you don't miss out the travel instructions!

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January 18, 2005

I have a cunning plan

Working in central london, doing a stressful job, has many downsides. The main one being that lunchtime consists of two options:

1) Spending money
2) Not having a lunch hour at all really.

There is of course a third option, which is for the Sushi-at-my-desk brigade, and involves combining the two.

I'm a big fan of pub lunches, and a big fan of shopping, but the harsh realities of raising a child in a reasonably-posh bit of london (and thereby paying nursery fees that are comparable to the mortgage on your previous house in Walthamstow) means you have to rein things in pretty harshly. Sandwiches are pretty much essential, and that normally means eating them at your desk. Thereby allowing work to creep in and rob you of that all-important perspective.

I'm also not that good at window-shopping. It tends to become window-buying all too easily.

So I've been on the lookout for FREE (or at least very very cheap) things to do in W1 of a lunch hour.

And it's pretty sorry, actually. Particularly in winter.

I've wanted to practice my drawing, or just sit somewhere and read entirely non-work books - but the nearest library is 15 minutes walk away. And doing the same in a pub, even with just a half, stretches my drink-nursing abilities to the limit. (Besides I'm not sure it's fair on them as a business)

I have the good fortune to be a member of a posh members club, but that's ten minutes away too, and even a coffee there is going to be the equivalent of a pint of David Blaine at the local Sam Smiths pub. There's no obligation to buy anything, but it looks a bit odd if you don't.

However, the recent influx of screener DVDs I've had as part of my BAFTA voting has given me some inspiration. I'm starting to pilot it today.

I'm taking a DVD to work with me. And at lunchtime I'm going to go for a walk around the block and then sit and watch 45 minutes of a film. Or possibly the other way round. I'll get through a whole film every two-to-three days.

However, where this gets interesting is the network effect, and this is what pushes it under the two-dollars-an-hour.

The missus can also take one of these DVDs into work, and watch it. So by the end of the week we can both (more or less) have watched the same two films. We become a mini book group.

If you then add one of those 'DVD rental by post' schemes into the equation, suddenly everything changes again - you can explore all the films you've ever wanted to, two by two, without having to worry about how long it takes you to watch them, and then talk about them with other people, in a metaphor ideally suited to the media-on-demand-and-when-allowed/sociability-by-prior-arrangement world we seem to be moving towards as mid-30s parents.

If our first experiments work, there could even be a bookcrossing/allconsuming site or blogging tool to be made around it.

Watch, as they say, this space.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

So that was last week..

[Most of the readers of this blog are used to having to work out the subtext, or even actual detail of the arguments, behind the ostensibly light and glib posts for themselves, but this is pushing it to the extreme. Time-poor is, I believe the phrase.]

Prince Harry seems to have rather summarised that age-old argument about whether white supremacists should be allowed to have a newsgroup. With all respect to the various people who may have been offended, if we ban Nazi regalia, how are we going to spot the absolute pillocks?

Someone who gets sent to jail for fifteen years for abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and says they have 'no regrets' was enjoying it far too much. The 'only following orders' argument just doesn't hold water.

A harrowing 48hrs when we realised that our Tivo was playing up - having to watch 'normal telly' is something that shouldn't be wished on anybody. We felt shackled - unable to leave the room without good reason, and having to leave the tv on in ambient mode 'in case'. I guess we can diagnose from that that, despite the downside for lazy broadcasters and producers, the upside for on-demand viewing is a greater immersion and reverence for the programmes that are being watched.

For fans of CGI, Peter Gabriel's "Play" DVD is fascinating watching. it's quite incredible watching The Cutting Edge in hindsight, and seeing that it looks rather ropey by today's standards. The stop-motion videos have stood the test of time far better. But also interesting to see how many ideas he had first. The iconic far-too-long stretch limo from Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker" was in his vid to 'Steam' around 8 years earlier. The man must have been personally funding far too mcuh of SIGGRAPH for the best part of 15 years...

Which to buy on Jan 31st? The new Lemon Jelly album on CD or DVD?

Other stuff in my del.icio.us page. Must get round to feeding that into here somehow.

[Tales too long to be told for now: The flickr contact that finally unmasked themselves; the sinking feeling when bafta tv award DVDs started turning up through the letterbox; some new people-management cockups I've observed; Making a start on documenting some of those ancient thoughts on interactive narrative before they're no use to anyone.]

See you next week?

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January 06, 2005

I get there in the end.

I've finally succumbed to del.icio.us.

Don't bother, there's only one link there. This post is only so I can find it again. But the story in the link merits a BIG blog post this weekend. It's not often someone buys you a high-end DVD player. Particularly such a contentious one.

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January 05, 2005

Here comes old age.



WomenInWaders.com
somehow passed me by. I guess this is what happens when I stop reading boymags. Partly because they contain stuff like this.

I found this site as part of a google search to try and find a way of encasing 90% of my body in PVC. My entire torso, and arms. I may even need a gas mask.

The sad part is that this is because I need to finally sort out the silt at the bottom of our garden pond without getting covered in a million wriggly creatures.

I feel like I'm misusing the internet. Sullying it.

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January 04, 2005

I always said a CD was merely the physical embodiment of an IP licence...

If you can get already an MP3 player that will store 6 albums for less than the cost of six albums... how long will it be before player and packaging merge, and we'll be able to buy albums that play themselves?

James muses on his 25 quid Superdrug 'Chavpod'.

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Top Tip of 2004


Top Tip of 2004
Originally uploaded by tomskerous.
Getting these little halogen lights out is an absolute sod if they blow. I've usually resorted to removing the entire light fitting from the ceiling to get enough leverage to unscrew the unbelievably-grippy ceramic base and brass pins.

But no longer.

Simply squeeze into the wife's washing-up marigolds, wipe *very* dry on a tea towel, and your thumbs will have enough grip to turn the bulb out of its mounting.

NB this only works for bayonet type - not the simpler two-metal-sticks version.

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Onion-like Bloody Good Point of 2004

Q: Imposing meaningless rules seems to turn everything I do into a silly game. Is that normal?

A: Yes, this can happen. But silly games can teach us a lot about serious creative business. Perhaps even more importantly, you might want to think about why you're afraid to turn your work into a silly game - you may be shackling yourself by taking it too seriously.

Unleash your Creativity - P20 - by the fab Rob Bevan and Tim Wright.

After a year of bloody-minded process, still echoing round, that one.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gadget of 2004


Gadget of 2004
Originally uploaded by tomskerous.
How to handle shaver/electric toothbrush/other bathroom device plugs without a huge wall wart you can't put furniture in front of.

Unbelievably simple, but extremely effective.

I just hope you can still get hold of the 2-pin inline sockets - this was made of bakelite and was found in the house of people who'd lived in a very old flat that still had old-skool power sockets. This was an upgrade from something that used to have mini 3-pin mains on the end.

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Unnecessarily Convoluted Sentence of 2004

By the side of Loch Fyne I head north again and back down Glendaurel, finally having to press on once more as I've ever so slightly underestimated the time required - again - and so end up gunning the Defender up the long curving slopes towards the viewpoint looking out over the Kyles of Bute (this is one of the best views in Argyll, maybe on of the great views of Scotland; a vast, opening delta of jagged, joining lochs, flung arcs of islets and low-hilled island disappearing into the distance).

Iain Banks. 'Raw Spirit'. P21.

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