Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Futurama Movie

Forget The Simpsons Movie, that series stopped being funny years ago. Futurama has it's own movie coming out. It will be released on DVD only but beggars cant be choosers. Now if only they would make a Family Guy movie for the cinema the world would be a better place.

GAA Complaints

Do the GAA counties fans and officials do anything other than complain about how unfair everything is? Time was just getting to Croke Park was an achievement, now counties complain if another team gets a second chance no matter how many they themselves got (Cork who have lost or drawn as many matches as they have won, in what used to be a knock out competition) or if their time slot in the stadium is not prime time (Westmeath who were on Newstalk tonight complaining that their time slot in Croker is too early this weekend).

I hope both teams get their asses kicked on Sunday, might make them appreciate the trip to Dublin a bit more next year. Of course I am a Waterford fan so I suppose my opinion is biased and trips to Croke Park are still novel occasions.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Top Gear Polar

Just watched the Top Gear Polar Special on the BBC for the second time. Jeremy Clarkson and James May drove to North Pole in a Toyota Hilux (seriously modified) while Richard Hammond took the traditional dog sled. Of course they had backup cars and teams or real explorers to keep them on track but still driving in the Arctic to the North Pole is not exactly the safest thing to do. Of course Clarkson and the car won, they always do. It must be written into his contract or something that he always wins, but it's still great fun watching someone drive to the North Pole for the first time.

But then I read that they hadn't actually gone to the North Pole. At the end of the show they show their coordinates as being 78° North. That is 12° and about 800 miles short of the true North Pole. Of course one could argue that they could had gone to Magnetic North, which moves and that is exactly where they did go. Unfortunately they did so 11 years late since they conveniently used the position of Magnetic North from 1996, it is currently around 82° or 83° North. It was a bit disappointing, really all they did was go for a long drive in the snow to an almost random point 400 miles away.

Still that fact doesn't stop it from being a great bit of television. There was stunning scenery, a sense that it was a dangerous place even for experienced explorers, a challenge that most people would never dream of taking and Clarkson with a car nut frozen to his lip. Anyone who likes Top Gear will love it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

I finally finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. Don't worry I wont reveal anything of the plot or the ending and I will try to avoid any spoilers but I'm going to discuss the book so if you read this and decide that I spoiled something don't complain to me, I'm warning you now, if you are the type of person who takes any hint of a spoiler seriously, STOP READING NOW and stop searching the internet for information on the book! I just don't want to listen to complaints :-)

While I enjoyed the franchise as a whole and have read the other books and seen the movies. Sure they were kids books, but they are entertaining and easy to read. At least they were. I have to say that for the first 400 pages this book has been more Harry Potter and the Dreary Shallows. Since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the storyline has been spinning its wheels to a certain degree, trying to avoid jumping to the final show down that had been set up at the end of the 4th book. Unfortunately JK Rowling had a 7 book deal so we've been left dealing with Harry Potter's impersonation of Kevin the Teenager for 2 1/2 books. Most of the characters from the previous books get sidelined in this one in favor of Harry wandering around aimlessly, followed by his friends whom I began to feel sorry for. The odd few pages of danger repeat themselves every so often just to make the reader think that the story is actually progressing but for most of the book we have to read about Harry clutching his scar and being depressed.

I had pretty much written off this book as a total flop until just after page 400 when the story finally kicked off and the adventure started feeling like an adventure. Several of the scenes over the final 200 pages are great. Large battles, mythical creatures, adventures, tragedy, bravery and sacrifice more make up for the previous 2/3rds of the book.

This is a book that needs to be converted into a film script and trimmed down. When it is it will work really well. I'm already looking forward to the movie which I already think will be the action adventure hit of 2010.

A final complaint, which may seem odd considering my previous complaints, but I would have liked to have seen more pages dedicated to what happened after the main adventure ended. I wanted to see what happened to all the characters not just a select few. To revisit Hogwarths, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley and see how things change with the outcome of the story. Instead the last 10 pages felt like they were added on at the last minute before the book went to the printers. A real, "oh crap, we need to tell the reader what happened next" addition Maybe JK should have kept the original ending that was reported to have "scar" as the last word.

At the end yes I liked the book, when it finally kicked off as a proper adventure story. I'm glad I bought and read it but I'm also glad it's come to an end as I feel the story was beginning to suffer for being dragged out over so many books.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Half Price Art

I keep hearing an advert on the radio for an art sale by Kevin Sharkey. Now I'll admit I wouldn't know art if someone hit me with a frame, wrapped me up in the canvas and dropped me in a vat of paint, but is it not strange to have a half price sale for an artists work advertised on the radio? I also have to ask when did people start buying gift tokens from an artist?

Sharkey an abstract painter, and apparently a good one, but to me the adverts make him sound like the art version of Harvey Norman. Also, if last month I bought a painting and then heard adverts on the radio telling me there was a half price sale going on I think I'd be a bit pissed off. But hell, I've probably never going to buy art like this, I much prefer photography and all the paintings I like are old, hanging in museums and come with security guards.

Monday, July 23, 2007

EU Citizen Vs Nationality

The problem with the Roma gypsies living on the M50 roundabout outside Dublin airport is beginning to puzzle me but not for the reasons you might think. Sure it's dangerous to them and to traffic to have them living on a busy roundabout and yes it's unsanitary to be have over 50 people living in a temporary camp. Now I do believe that the government should deport them, they are taking the piss and challenging the authorities by setting up camp on the first piece of empty land they came to outside the airport. As a representative of the Romanian community in Ireland said on the radio today this is like a test-case, let 50 people set up a camp on the M50 and prove the government cannot stop them then next month more will arrive, and more after that.

However what puzzles me is the attitude of the Roma gypsies in their attempts to stay. They are appealing the governments attempts to remove them based on their rights as EU citizens as to freedom of movement and making them sign on each day at a Garda station is an "unnecessary and disproportionate interference" with their rights to reside in the State.

Are our rights as EU citizens the same as out rights as national citizens? Do those EU right supersede our own national rights? For example if an Irish citizen accused of a crime was required to sign on at a Garda Station could they appeal that as "unnecessary and disproportionate interference" with their rights to reside in the State? What would happen if I set up a camp on the M50 would I be moved on quicker than someone from outside the state?

Personally I think it's all rubbish. They came here to test the limits of what they could get away with. They aren't trying to integrate or settle down, they are living in a makeshift camp on a roundabout on a motorway. When are we going to stop granting rights but not enforcing responsibilities? We should send them home on the next plane to Romania and if they come back send them home again and keep sending them home until they get the message. In the meantime we can let in others, just take these 50 and never let them back in again. Then maybe the next 50 will be a little more willing to settle and integrate. If the EU objects than I suppose we can just put the 50 of them on the next plane to Brussels with a list of nice roundabouts outside the EU parliament and see how long they stay there.

Then if the EU still insists that we should let people come and go as they please and do what they want because they are EU citizens then maybe we should give up and just move to Romania, I hear it's a beautiful country and the weather has to be better.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tracking photographers

Following on from my last post about the new Harry Potter novel having been made available online when someone took photographs of every page and made them available in a torrent you can understand the publishers are a little annoyed. Having spent so much time taking the photographs I suppose the book owner was quite keen to publish their work so it never dawned on them that they could be tracked down by those very photographs.

By examining the vital information - or 'metadata' - built into each photo, the company's [Canon] technical officers have established the serial number of the camera that was used, which could in turn lead to the identity of the camera's owner.

The information, known as Exchangeable Image File Format (Exif) data, has already revealed that the camera used was a Canon Rebel 350. Because the model is three years old, the device would likely have been serviced at least once since it was purchased, in which case the owner's name would be known.

The lawyers are now involved so you can bet they wont let this one go until the trail runs cold or they have the copyright violator roasting on their spits. This is pretty trivial stuff but I'm sure the same technology could be used to track down photographers, both those who committed a crime but also those who just pissed off a government somewhere with their photograph.

[via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter for crazy people

The last Harry Potter book goes on sale on Friday, as I'm sure everyone who can read and has access to radio and television knows. There is huge security around the book and especially the identities of the characters that die. My money is on Ron, poor guy has seemed the most likely to come to a bad and painful end since the start. I'd also guess Snape has to be on the short list.

Anyway, for those who cant wait and have too much time on their hands, some complete nut job has taken photographs of every page and made it available as a bittorrent. Personally I'd rather wait and get a real copy of a book than go blind staring at pictures of pages but as the article points out the people who download the torrent will probably be in the queue to buy the book at midnight on Friday night.

[via Boing Boing]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rugby players are tough SOBs

Here's a story from the BBC about an Australian rugby league player, Ben Czislowski, who had a clash of heads with Tweed Heads player, Matt Austin. During the clash Austin lost several teeth and had his jaw broken. Czislowski just needed some stitches to a cut above his eye. Nothing serious, happens all the time. Four months later Czislowski suffered an eye infection and shooting pains until doctors discovered the cause. One of Austin teeth was embedded in his head. Czislowski now keeps the tooth on his bedside table as proof of the incident. I bet that gets the ladies all excited.

Now, one might think that was an freak accident until you read down through the BBC story.

In 2004, Widnes hooker Shane Millard also had an opponent's tooth removed from his head.

Two years earlier, Wigan's Jamie Ainscough's arm became so badly infected there were fears it would be amputated before the source - an embedded tooth - was discovered.

Bloody hell. Someone should do a tooth count at the end of each game and if the number coming back doesn't match the number going out it may be worth an quick look into the bloody gashes on the players.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Concert Goers

Lots of people are on the radio today giving out about bad experiences and suffering around the Barbra Streisand concert last Saturday. Fortunately for some of the poor unfortunates they were delayed in traffic or had no seats when they finally arrived so they missed half the concert or the suffering would have been even greater.

Thats what you get for being silly enough to pay 500 euros for a ticket to any bloody concert.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Look who's back

Older, tireder and many more miles on the clock but still able to crack a whip? Check out the movie to see how old Inidiana Jones looks now.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Start building an Ark

As I walked to work this morning through the monsoon that hasn't stopped for over a month this "summer" I heard a caller on the Gerry Ryan radio show call for a new election to get a new God. Of course it was meant in jest but it did make me realise the real reason for this awful summer or rain. It's and advertising stunt by Universal Studios for their new movie Evan Almighty, a comedy about Evan (Steve Carell) chosen to build a new Ark by God (Morgan Freeman).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some O2 balance

I suppose after my last two posts I should post a little balance and praise something O2 is doing. Their O2 broadband package actually sounds pretty good. I would almost be tempted to get it for when I'm out and about with my laptop. From Damien Mulley:
O2 Broadband, through a wireless USB modem, will enable up to 10GB of data to be downloaded as standard per month, with no additional charges for occasional usage in excess of this. O2 is the first mobile provider in Ireland not to automatically charge customers if they exceed the 10GB usage limit, subject to fair usage policy.

The service will initially be available for a three month introductory price of €15 per month for those with an existing O2 post-pay voice connection or for new post-pay customers taking a voice connection*. It will be €20 for all other customers. Following the three month promotional period, the monthly cost is €30 (with voice connection*). For all other customers the cost is €40 per month. The USB modem will be priced from €69 (all prices quoted are inclusive of VAT).
Now national coverage is patchy so dont do outside of town, it is through a laptop and I still want real 3G services on my O2 bought 3G mobile phone, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Irish Government and Mobile Research

The Irish government is €2.45 million into a research programme for "the development of television, music and other services for Irish mobile phones". Here's an idea, make it cost less to download a music track than it did to purchase that track and we'll all see vastly improved services on Irish mobile phones. Can I have the €2.45 million now?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

IPhone on O2?

The BBC is reporting that O2 in the UK has won the exclusive contract to sell the iPhone. I'd guess that probably means O2 Ireland will get the phone as well. That's a shame really considering the European iPhone is supposed to have 3G but O2 Ireland don't really seem to do 3G for phones at the moment. Oh they have some scripted response around having a 3G network for since August 2005 but that is only if you bought a data card for your laptop or something. 2005 when Vodafone were showing off video downloads and video calls, O2 were introducing iMode, which is basically WAP with more graphics to enhance your billing experience.

When I bought the K800i in January I was told 3G would be available in March, then it was June, then it was sometime before the end of the year. One time the shop assistant blamed local residents for objecting to masts. I felt like pointing out that Vodafone and 3 had managed it, but wasn't in the mood to argue with someone who had absolutely no ability to turn on the desired 3G services. I contacted O2 customer support via email asking when I would be able to access 3G on my phone and after several "I don't understand your question" emails they explained that video telephony was not enabled but was being tested. At this rate it'll be the most "tested" network in the world.

Finally despite all that complaining I don't think I would really want 3G services on O2 at the moment under their current data pricing plans since they would require me to get a bank loan in order to make a video call or download RTE news headlines. Even just browsing WAP sites and RSS feeds, with graphics turned off, adds up quickly every month. I live in the hope that when they introduce 3G they will also introduce a new price plan.

Still as things stand I'm happy with my Sony Ericsson K800i, I'm getting into this device convergence thing and I want the next phone I buy to completely replace my MP3 player so it'll have to have more than the 8GB memory in the iPhone and not use memory cards like the K800i, a radio is a must and it will have to have 3G video and wi-fi and a proper web browser... hmm, it's looking like I'll be buying an iPhone with one of those annoying radio add on things they are bound to release costing another €100.

Update 11 Sept 2007: I went into an O2 store on Saturday and asked if they had any plans to release 3G services for phones. You know, nothing complex, just things other networks have had for ages now, seems like years. The standard things that comparative new comers to the Irish market, 3, can manage. Like video calling and TV downloads. Easy, or so you would think. Unfortunately the answer I got was that they, O2, are trying to strengthen the 3G network before trying anything like that. Strengthen it? It appears to be strong enough for them to pitch it as an alternative to broadband for computers, but it's not strong enough for me to download a low res video or two? Oh and I can sign up for a 10MB download package for €9.99 and €1.00 for each MB after that. Great, so even if they had a 3G service you'd have to be crazy to spend several euros to download the news headlines.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Cork Coke

After Sunday nights boat accident the clean up crews on the Cork beaches are swamped with new volunteers.

[via Rick O'Shea]

Free energy?

An Irish company called Steorn is about to unveil a "free energy" device based on the interaction of magnetic fields and which is reported to defy the laws of physics. Assuming that Scotty has not been reborn in the body of an Irish scientist you may want to look at slightly more conventional sources for free energy, such and this nice wind turbine from Australia. Still I suppose we should wait and see what the 22 top scientists say before putting this in the storage cupboard beside the cold fusion devices.

Update 05 July: Steorn are having a few technical difficulties, it would appear that the device doesn't work when heated up by camera lights.
Important update on the Kinetica demo:
We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the demo unit in London. Our initial assessment indicates that this is probably due to the intense heat from the camera lighting. We have commenced a technical assessment and will provide an update later today. As a consequence, Kinetica will not be open to the public today (5th July). We apologise for this delay and appreciate your patience.
Go here to see the device in all its glory.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Largest drug haul in history of state

A drugs haul of up to €50 million appears to have been made off the coast of Cork when a man swam ashore this morning and raised the alarm for his mates who were adrift with an overturned dinghy. Unfortunately for the men when the rescue services arrived they also found 40 to 50 bales of what appears be cocaine. The estimate is half a ton of cocaine valued at €50 million.

Understatement of the week comes from the Coastguard.
A Coastguard spokesperson said both men were 'extremely shocked' and suffering from hypothermia.
I'd bet their shocked and more than a little worried about what happens when the crime boss realises his €50 million is now floating it's way back to South America. There has to be a movie of the week somewhere in there, the big screen version has already been made complete with Irish actor. At the very least I'm going to tune into that episode of crimecall.

Update: Looks like it's up to at least €105 million, most papers have it at €200 million but some tabloid newspapers have it up to €300 million.