From February 2005

Take-Two

Spent the last couple of days grappling with parsing & updating XML in Perl for my project. I finally got it working but it isn’t particularly memory efficient as it takes in the whole database (5000+ nodes) in one big chunk.

After the ever-rediculus Oscars last night I thought I’d offer my own impartial opinion on the best films of 2004 (as I did last year!). You’ll notice that none of these were even nominated! This list is not definitive as of course I didn’t see all the films last year this represents my own tastes:

Top 5 Films 2004

  1. Kill Bill (Volume 2)
  2. A Tale of Two Sisters
  3. House of Flying Daggers
  4. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
  5. Shaun of the Dead

Update – Just noticed that Shi mian mai fu (House of Flying Daggers) was nominated for ‘Best Achievement in Cinematography’, opps.

Notable Mentions

Worst Film 2004

I haven’t watched nearly as many films as I would have liked this year so far due to being busy with other things but I’ve got a lot lined up so watch this space!

Got an opinion? What did you like/hate the most last year?!

Steak Out

After some expert tuition from my Grandmother last weekend (while I was in London) I cooked up a rather tasty steak meal last night, complete with mushrooms, chips & salad etc. A top tip for other aspiring chiefs: try cooking the mushrooms in the oven with a little olive oil then transfer them to the frying pan with the steak for the last 5 or-so minutes of the process to let the juices infuse – very tasty!

Lord Vader

For those Star Wars fans who don’t mind a few spoilers, check out this pretty comprehensive run-down of what we can expect from Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Although what’s written here is far from concrete I find it amazing that so much has leaked out at this early stage but I guess we all know where it’s headed anyway!

A few random links:

  • Alaskan Alpine Club – Making some amazing artificial ice walls by pumping water up through pipes in the middle of the ice 24 hours per day. Really impressive stuff.
  • Clearlooks – A new theme/style for Gnome. Now my desktop looks better than yours!
  • BowGo Project – A new take on the classic pogo stick that bounces higher, farther and more efficiently than conventional devices. Looks lethal but very cool!
  • How Safe Are We? – Has this advert gone to far? I wonder if this is really appropriate in the post 9/11 era. Maybe, maybe not.

Global Aesthetic

One of my favourite shops, Muji (“no brand, good product”), which sells some seriously cool every-day type stuff has taken things one step further and designed a whole house!

Muji House

What they’ve produced is functional utilitarianism at its best: the value it’s contents are determined by their utility whilst retaining a certain sense of individuality which is often lacking in many minimalistic creations (in my humble opinion!).

Take a peek at the MUJI+INFILL project here, although be warned – your Japanese better be up to scratch! [Crude English translation] Find out more about the house on WorldChanging.

On the design side of things take a look at these ideas for 24 hour analog clocks – “because there are 24 house in the day”! Some interesting ideas about visualising time.

Snow Trees

Even in the harsh sub-zero weather conditions we’re having up North at the moment signs of spring are beginning to show themselves!

Black & White

We got some more pretty extreme snow last night, making my walk to lectures this morning a lot more interesting! Taking photos in the snow isn’t the easiest thing to do but I got a couple of photos while I thought I’d share below. Click on the text beneath each one for a larger version.

Snow
Snow on the river

Snow
More snow!

Although they were originally taken in colour I think they look a lot better in B&W – the contrast of the snow against everything else seems a lot more pronounced.

Canary Wharf

Yesterday was probably the most tiring day I’ve had in years. I got up in the South of the UK at 6am and went to sleep in the North around 2am (this morning!). My epic journey included many trials, including four hours of interviews and many other challenges!

Canary Wharf

On my way I managed to get a few cool pictures in Canary Wharf which is a pretty amazing part of London that was re-generated during the 90’s. The above is my favourite – I’ll try and put a gallery up of the rest later on if I can get it to work properly (graphics manipulation library problems at the moment!).

This morning I opened my curtains to be greeted with a white blanket of snow covering the surrounding landscape. With it being so cold recently I had been expecting it for a while but it hadn’t been forecast until tomorrow! In light of this a trip outside was definitely required. Many snow related assaults ensued!

“This must be Thursday”

Just a quick update today as I’m rather busy with various things (what changes?!). Well done to the Mozilla Firefox team for reaching the 25 million downloads mark yesterday (in just 99 days) – it’s a pretty big aachievement and very well deserved!

“We’re not going to stop at 25 million either. There are still hundreds of millions of people suffering the IE experience and that’s going to change. If you know of people that are tired of the pop-ups, tired of the adware and spyware, tired of viewing the web through the distorted goggles of a browser from the last century, then take a minute to show them there’s a better browser available today, one that puts the power back in the hands of the users rather than the web badguy flavor of the month.”

I hate to rant on about this but if you haven’t tried it yet what are you waiting for? A prime example would be the other day when my Dad called me because the family computer had been infected with some horrible spyware which had got in through Internet Explorer – not any more with Firefox! Download it here now!

I’m off to London tomorrow for some job-finding related business and probably wont be back till late on Saturday night so wont be directly contactable via IM/email till then. Please pray for favourable conditions on the British railways over the next couple of days as I’ll be relying on them pretty heavily!

Oh, and if you haven’t already seen it, here’s a better quality version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trailer which appeared on Amazon the other day. Enjoy 🙂

Reflections

I’m not sure why but I’m feeling unusually grotty today, I just hope I’m not going down with something. You probably wont have noticed but I upgraded the site to the new stable release or WordPress 1.5 and restored the photo galleries (well, most of the anyway!).

I got hold of the photos I took over weekend in Newcastle so I thought I’d share a few:

The Bridge

It was a particually grey and windy day – not exactly prime weather for photography! On the same day Tony Blair and his cronies were in town for their spring conference so there were police everywhere. I don’t mean just a few more than normal but literally hundreds wandering around all over the place looking cold and board (you can hardly blame them!).

Police

Unfortunately the work on display at the Baltic right now was of a pretty poor standard compared to what I’ve seen in the past. The ‘Peninsula‘ exhibition by Phyllida Barlow was particularly pretentious and to my mind presented the worst side of contemporary art – that which pretends to be something beyond what it really is – just plane awful. I think the description which went with it pretty much says everything:

“This new work is based on a series of recently realised projects which have combined physical precariousness with emotional intensity – to a point where the structures appear to be on the verge of collapse or implosion”

Please don’t insult everyones intelligence. I’ve seen better GCSE school projects. This is simply a poor joke. If I’ve made a fundamental misinterpretation of it then feel free to correct me!

Reflections

I took a few interesting shots of reflections which turned out OK but they could have done with a little more colour in them. All of my family are reflected in the shot above, some more than once! Can you work out who’s who?

No… nor can I!

Elsewhere: Strange things are going on in New York’s Central Park. Check out a some photos of the newly unveiled ‘Gates‘ which can even be seen from space! More info here.

High Energy Protons

Had quite a nice weekend with my family coming to visit. I would show you the cool photos I took but since they’re on my dad’s camera (I forgot mine when we went out today!) they’ll have to wait for another time 🙁

Well done to my Dad for having a research paper he’s written (the first in many years from what I gather) accepted for an international conference on respiratory medicine. I have absolutely no idea what it’s all about but it’s quite impressive!

I had a lot to say today but for some reason or other it’s all just drained from my mind, must be the chronic exhaustion setting in again! Instead I’ll just leave you with a few cool links:

  • Father Amorth – A day in the life of the most senior exorcist for the Vatican.
  • I ate my iPod Shuffle – “Next time you need a snacky-treat, Think different – iPod appetit“!!
  • Balloon v1.0 – Build your own Linux powered weather balloon (like you do). I love little projects like this, Genius!
  • Night-Vision – New advances using colour substitution turn night into day. Pretty psychedelic if you ask me.
  • Fractile Networks – Look the same up close or far away. Now you know! Interesting if you’re studying these sorts of things (like I am allegedly).

Ring 0: Birthday

What do you get when you mix a Shakespearian tragedy with one of the most terrifying psychological thrillers of the 20th Century? Possibly Ring 0. Although it bears about as much resemblance to its predecessors (or successors depending on your view) as a cow does to a chicken it manages to bring new light to this classic series.

Ring 0

Ring 0 is a prequel to the origional Ringu, set 30 years before it in Sadako’s lifetime. It’s difficult to place it in a specific genre as it’s neither horror nor costume drama but rather a combination of both. Although it is nowhere near as shocking or chilling as the others it answers just about all the questions you’ve been wondering and wraps things up quite nicely.

Ring 0

The story basically revolves around Sadako and her troubled history. We learn that she isn’t quite as evil as might have been imagined and that she does actually have a human side which has been suppressed by previous traumas. The story is fairly slow paced but as it unravels we discover that even nastier things are lurking in the background which will soon come into play as the body-count begins to stack up!

Ring 0

The cinematography is nothing special and at times feels a little flat but there are some nice flash-back sequences using a grainy sepia film effect which work quite well. Having said this the film does exhibit a certain sense of tragic beauty which is brought home in the final scene where Sadako meets her end in a shocking and quite upsetting way, due to it’s brutality served upon someone who was innocent.

Overall it’s good but not brilliant, worth seeing if you liked the original (7/10). You can find a more in depth review here.

Hands

Hands

Meta: Taken using a Tungsten filter, ISO 50, 1/99 sec, f/4.9.