Monday, October 29, 2007


I am frantically backing everything on my computer up in a state of panic. I logged into my (work) laptop (while at home) a wee while ago using all the usual settings and everything was different to normal. When I did CTRL-ALT-DEL it said "J Mike Davidson is logged in as rcarvel" which worried me. I hastily logged out and logged back in again. Same again. So I logged out and am now logged in as a different user. And am backing everything up to an external disc just in case.

It turned out that "J Mike Davidson" was an old member of our IT team and I had managed to log in or out of the system at precisely the wrong time, during an update, and my computer had got a garbled file as a result. Or something. Everything actually works fine now. And I am assured that I wasn't hacked. Whew!

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On hold...

Currently on hold to an insurance company.

So far they have played Level 42, Dido and Kool and the gang at me. I'm sure these songs have been specially selected to maximise the likelihood of me giving up and hanging up the phone... but I'm persevering!

[time passes]

Just had The Feeling, which was nice, but we're now on Dire Straits.

Back on hold to the same folk a few days later. They're playing the truly awful 'Life' by Desree at me now. Aaaaaaaaargh!

And now we're back to Level 42. Where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth...

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Spring forward, fall back

You know, I really used to appreciate the extra hour in bed on the last Saturday of October as we switched from British Summer Time back to Grenwich Mean Time.

Now I have kids. Instead of gaining an extra hour in bed, the October clock change now means that I am woken an hour earlier in the morning than I would like to be. The clock read 5:07 when I was woken this morning...

Nowadays, I prefer the clock change in the Springtime - for a few days after that the kids sleep in in the morning, so it is then that I get the extra hour in bed.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shoot the dog!

I like dogs. Man's best friend and all that. I have never actually owned a dog but have got on well with dogs of friends, relations and neighbours. I wouldn't generally advocate any kind of cruelty to dogs. Generally.

Our neighbour has a new dog. She (the neighbour) is generally out in the evenings. The dog is home alone. Barking. Yapping. Growling. Occasionally whining. But generally making some annoying noise for more than two hours a night. Usually when we're trying to get to sleep. Aaaaaargh!

Its just gone quiet, but I know it'll be barking again in a few minutes. Somebody please do something about that dog!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Used car salesmen

I went to the garage to buy one of these (see right) today. A one year old VW Touran. I had previously visited the VW main dealer and priced up the car that I wanted, but on the website of Arnold Clark garage, the same car comes in significantly cheaper, so I went there to see what they could offer.

While they could offer a couple of Tourans which I had a look at on their forecourt, what they couldn't offer was customer service.

I had been impressed by the sales-manner of the guy in the VW garage, he had been nice, approachable and had offered me slightly over the odds on a trade in on my current car against the 56 plate Touran. The guy at Arnold Clark on the other hand just complained the entire time and completely refused to even hint at a trade in price for my current car. Without that vital bit of information I was unable to decide whether to buy from them or from the main dealer. It seems that Arnold Clark will only give you a trade-in price for your old car once you have committed to buying a new car from them. How useless is that?

Oh, and I wanted a blue car. They had several on their website but when I asked in the showroom they said they couldn't find any blue ones. And the showroom prices are completely unrelated to the online prices.

In the end I gave up on them and went and bought a car from the VW dealer. OK, I might have ended up paying a small percentage of the cost more there, but at least the service was good (and they had a blue one). If the pre-sales service is bad at Arnold Clark, I have no confidence at all regarding their after-sales service.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Some reviews (both in the press and by folk I know) say that this is a brilliantly funny film. Others disagree. My wife says its the worst film she's ever sat through.

I can see what they were trying to do. Much of it stands halfway between parody and homage. Then again, it is also halfway between comedy and action film, and that isn't a great place to be. Basically it is not funny enough to be a comedy and not action-y enough to be an action film.

OK, there are amusing bits in it, but few actual laugh-out-loud moments (and they were all in the trailer), so it fails as a comedy. Mark Kermode has this rule of thumb about comedies - something is only funny if you actually laugh (not merely grin or smile) more than six times. I don't think I laughed that much. Yes, there were amusing situations, homages and lines of dialogue, but not enough actually funny.

But if its not a comedy what is it? The action sequence at the end is way OTT and goes on for ages, but if you compare it to an actual action movie, then it is not that great. Similarly the 'whodunnit' aspect of the film, this is a pretty lamely plotted storyline which doesn't satisfy at all.

So we're left with a film trying to be so many things and falling between all the stools. Shame.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Burning the candle at both ends

Yawn. Impending deadlines mean I was up and working until well after midnight last night. When I finally got to bed I found that my head was so full of stuff that I couldn't actually get to sleep, even though I was shattered.

And then I woke just before 6am, head still full of stuff, and couldn't get back to sleep. So here I am sitting at the computer again.

"Life? Don't talk to me about life!"

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

I have finally seen the 1982 movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High".

You're probably wondering about the 'finally' part of that statement. I've wanted to see that movie for a long time. Probably about 21 years...

You see, in 1986 I had a minor obsession with guitar playing rock goddess Nancy Wilson of the band Heart. Perhaps it was more than minor. Well, I was 15 and Heart were briefly one of the greatest rock bands of the moment. The self-titled Heart album from 1985 is the pure essence of 1985 - if you want to know what rock music in 1985 was, that's the album to listen to. All power ballads, power chords, big hair and emotive vocals. Actually, I still think its a great album. But anyway. In 1986 I discovered that Nancy Wilson had a 'starring' part in this movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I desperately wanted to see that movie.

But in 1986 things were a bit different to how they are today. No, no downloads, and (most importantly) in my house, no VCR! Add to this the fact that no video store in Edinburgh had the movie (Virgin could order it in for £25 - which was a lot of money in those days) and you see why I never saw it. By the time I actually owned a VCR my Nancy obsession had diminished and so I never tried to get it then.

But it was on Film 4 last week. So I watched it.

No, it wasn't worth 21 years of waiting. To add insult to injury it turns out that Nancy's 'starring' role lasts less than a minute and she doesn't even speak! Khah!

The film ticks all the boxes of the early 80s 'bawdy teen sex comedy' genre, without actually being particularly bawdy, sexy or comedic. And as usual in American movies, the high school 'teens' are mostly twenty-somethings.

But while it wasn't particularly funny, it was still quite watchable. The cliched characters all seemed actually to be reasonably real people and you were interested in what happened to them. There were some genuinely touching moments in there too, which I wasn't really expecting. But there wasn't actually too much of a plot. About 75 minutes in I found myself wondering when the real story was going to begin.

So it was OK, but not worth the wait.

So here's a clip of Nancy Wilson in her 1985 prime...

Don't believe the video, Nancy does all the singing here not Ann, her darker haired sister.

And here's the other single from the 80s with Nancy on lead vocals. Erm, I have no idea what they thought they were doing in this video...

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