From December 2004

Graphic Design NOW!

Not the most interesting topics of conversation I know, but up until yesterday I was getting literally hundreds of spam comments on my site every day. I have long been grappling with the problem and have tried various methods to filter them all out but for the most part a few always slip through the net. This was annoying me so much a couple of days ago I disabled commenting because it was just taking to much of my time to delete all the junk. I wanted a 100% perfect solution (not asking much I think!) which would eliminate the problem for good. After a quick search around I found such a plugin for WordPress called ‘Spam Stopgap Extreme‘. This clever little plugin uses some dark magic in the form of embedded random MD5 hashes to prevent spammers from automatically commenting. It’s a simple and elegant solution which has so far has worked flawlessly and made my inbox a lot lighter!

I received some pretty good xmas presents this year, the highlights being a watch from my parents and some assorted books & DVD’s. Amongst all this I especially liked a hefty sized book called ‘Japanese Graphics NOW!‘ which is packed with some of the coolest imagery your likely to find anywhere.

Graphic Design

“Exploding with eye-popping originality and freshness, today’s best Japanese graphics have been gathered together to make this must-have guide to contemporary aesthetics in Japan.

If you like this sort of thing it’s definitely worth getting hold of a copy. You can take a look inside at some of the cool graphics here.

Speaking of graphics the ‘The Ultimate Matrix Collection‘ (Ten Disc DVD Set) is also a must-have for serious fans. I’m only about half way through the 35 hours of special features and am loving every minute of it. Some might argue that seeing how a film is put together spoils the magic but personally I am fascinated to see how something of such epic scale is put together, especially from a technical viewpoint. I think my perfect job would be in visual effects but I have no idea how you would begin getting into such a position, from what I hear it isn’t easy.

Discovered a cool service today called Audioscrobbler courtesy of another tech-head which builds up a profile of your music listening habits automatically allowing you do some pretty nifty things. If you’re so inclined you can see what I’ve been listening to recently here. Not exactly Mozart I know!

As with many others I have some Gmail invites to give away. If you want one drop me a line and it’s yours. First-come first-served!

I think I’ll round things off today with another sunset photo I took last night out of my window. If you like it click on the text just below to see a larger version:

Purple Sunset
Sunset behind the roof tops

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Disasters

Not such a good day today for a variety of reasons, I kind of feel like I’ve been hit in the face by a rather large vehicle right now. Perhaps my philosophical gene is working overtime at the moment – a good bash on the head with a heavy object would put it straight I’m sure! Aside from this the volume of work I have to complete by next term is also weighing heavily on my mind but I’m sure I’ll struggle through it somehow.

This said, my problems are nothing in comparison to how the families of the 100,000+ people who died in the Asian Quake and Tsunami earlier in the week must feel. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be a part of this. It all goes to highlight the fragile nature of life which we should never take for granted – every day is precious. In a way it is ironic that the places which always seem to be worst afflicted by these events are the places which are least able to cope with them. Sometimes we don’t realise how lucky we are to live where we do.

Asian Flood
Image (c) 2004 DigitalGlobe

The above satellite photo shows the coastline of Kalutara, Sri Lanka moments before the tsunami hit. The swirling waves are highly evident – its must have been an awesomely deadly and terrifying sight to behold. According to geophysicists at NASA the quake may have been large enough to slightly alter the rate of the Earth’s rotation, shortening days by a fraction of a second. You can read an interesting article about it here.

Day Trip

Lots been going on the last couple of days… On a very frosty boxing-day morning we ventured out into the cold to visit Blickling Hall & Park and had a nice walk round the lake and gardens. Unfortunately the house itself was closed but it still looked very picturesque. Read more

Christmas Time

Happy Christmas one and all!!!

Just taking time out from the hectic preparations going on here to do a quick update since I missed out on posting yesterday (way too busy!). Echo has come to visit for a few days which is nice, especially as she has never experienced Christmas before. Yesterday afternoon we went to the Cathedral carol service in which my sister was singing in the girls choir. It was very busy but we managed to get good seats as we arrived quite early.

Christmas
Inside Norwich Cathedral

The music was very good and the atmosphere in the Cathedral was nice with the lights dimmed and all the decorations put up. After this we went home and had dinner which consisted of lasagna which I cooked with mum earlier in the day. I think it went down quite well – it certainly tasted nice to me!!

Christmas

Today we went to a short church service first thing in the morning and then had a pleasant walk down by the river. Along the way we encountered a curious flock of swans who seemed very curious about us but considering their size I didn’t want to get too close! Although the weather is pretty cold outside today unfortunately we’ve had no snow yet but fingers crossed there might be some in the next couple of days :-)

Christmas
Outside Norwich Cathedral

The smell of lunch is wafting temptingly from downstairs so I will sign off now. Hope everyone has a good day and most importantly don’t forget to watch the Queens speech!!! hehe

Hitchhiker’s Guide

If like me you’re a fan of the late Douglas Adams’ brilliant book, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, then (with some trepidation) you will probably have heard of the upcoming film adaptation due for release some time next year. I have mixed feelings towards this because the radio series was (and still is) excellent and I can’t imagine that any big-budget film could ever match the very British feel to the whole thing. I have nightmare images of dumbed-down dialog and flashy graphics which just wouldn’t suit it.

Babel Fish

The horribly cheap BBC TV adaptation from the 80’s actually did a pretty good job, mainly because it didn’t try to be something it wasn’t. I’m not totally pessimistic about the new version but it certainly has a lot to look up to. So far early (pre-pre-) previews have been good but where things will go is anyones guess!

Long Hours

Since the day after I got back home last Thursday I’ve been working 8am-5pm in Cambridge which has meant getting up at 5.30am to get to there and then not getting home till after 6pm. I’m basically helping out move/install 250+ computers into a new office so it’s not exactly hard but still a useful experience (and the money is always useful!). The downside of these long hours is that come the end of the day I’m completely dead on my feet (or perhaps more appropriately off them!). This has possibly led to a decline in the *quality* of blog output recently so please bear with it – things should be back to normal soon :)

Photogenic

Yes, it’s that time you’ve all been waiting for (!) – the photos from Red Ted’s trip to Japan have arrived courtesy of Yukari who very kindly looked after him :-) They were taken around her house, Shinjyuku & Ginza (cities in Tokyo) and her college.

It doesn’t get much more cool than this – isn’t the postal system and the Internet wonderful!!! So without further ado here’s a sample of what’s available in the gallery:

RT in Japan

RT in Japan

RT in Japan
Doraemon!

RT in Japan

It’s amazing to think of him being on the other side of the world, further away from home than I have ever been. From what I have seen in books, films and on other peoples blogs Japan really does look like a very beautiful part of the world – I hope one day I will get a chance to visit and experience some of it for myself (I mean why should RT have all the fun?!).

Disk Failure

My old web/mail server suffered a fatal hard disk failure some time this afternoon which basically killed it off. As a temporary measure I’ve restored the site to another machine – thank goodness for automated nightly backups! There may still be errors in the server configuration so please contact me if you notice anything astray! More soon…

Update: I’ve managed to get hold of a *new* computer to use by a server (by ‘new’ I actually mean ‘old’, hehe) which I’ll try and get round to fixing up some time before Christmas.

Viaduc de Millau

After a long stint in the car I’m finally back home for Christmas. I’ve been very unpacking and catching up with my family so I’ll keep this short tonight. My mum cooked a delicious streak dinner for me this evening which was great and a rare treat! Whilst I was away not much has changed aside from my brother growing another inch or so taller and the leaves falling off the trees but it’s nice to be back (for a short while at least).

I’ll leave you today with a photo of what must be one of the most amazing bridges (certainly the tallest) ever built. The Millau Bridge, just opened in France, spans an entire valley (2.5km wide) on the southern edge of the Massif Central mountain range. With spires higher than the Eiffel Tower which rise above the clouds it’s quite a sight to behold:

Millau Bridge

You can read more about it here. (I’ll post better photos if I can find them).

See the tree!

Now I have my very own Christmas tree courtesy of a rather crafty person. Admittedly its only an inch tall but that’s all you’ve got room for in the average sized student room! Some might say Sniffy sized… ;)

See the tree!

Lectures finished today, only one more project meeting left tomorrow then I’m free (…well as far as this metaphor can be stretched!). Unfortunately I’ve run out of time for my little project I was planning for today so it’ll just have to be shelved for another time.

Wei shenme ding wo? …zhe bu shi dong wu yuan!

…quite! 小样