Knackered

Hired a van today and with the help of Graham bought far too much at Ikea and then cleared out my garage. Since we moved in the garage has always niggled at me. 5 windows, a kitchen worktop, some kitchen cabinets and an old decrepit workbench from the 1920’s plus wood and car posters from the sixties had meant I could never get the place organised. Finally it has been.

The council dump was a bit weird though. No vehicles over the height of 1.8 metres is allowed in. The reason I needed a van was the size and weight of the stuff needing dumped. Looks like they want to encourage you to pay the council to take the sizeable rubbish away. Swine’s. Never mind – a good job well done.

Star Wars Revelations

With the news that there is to be a Star Wars TV series (been watching Battlestar George?) and the immenent Episode 3 you may have missed the release of Star Wars Revelations by Panicstruck Productions. This is an independently made 45 minute production that captures all that’s good and bad about Star Wars, namely:

  • Great special effects – the CGI used in this film is impressive, most impressive
  • Good use of sound
  • Crap storyline
  • Poor dialogue
  • Questionable acting ability
  • That’s maybe a little harsh as the CGI is amazing for a free film but to ‘star’ in the film it looks like you had to be American, fat, ugly and have facial hair…and that’s just the girls. Seriously though it’s well worth a download at around 250Mb just for the CGI alone – best to grab the torrent though as most of the mirrors aren’t reliable.

    E4 on Freeview

    By the end of May E4 and also E4+1 will be available on Freeview – the full press release is here. Great news although a bit of a waste to have E4+1 as well. By October More 4 will also have launched on Freeview as well. I’m now more glad that I didn’t move to Sky and also convinced a dual-tuner Freeview PVR is required. Question is, will it be the Topfield or the Inverto? Comparisons with these two plus others can be found here.

    XBox 360?

    xbox_360
    There’s still three weeks before the MTV Xbox 360 announcement but a few sites are saying this is what the 360 will look like. Interesting. Two versions apparently as well with the higher spec one more like an XBMC 360 with a removable hard drive, web browsing, instant messaging, media player/sharing all in one device. Out this year, in Europe too. Time to start saving the pennies. More can be seen on Team Xbox.

     

    Confusion...pity the consumer

    After my PlusNet raves it was bound to fly back in my face. PlusNet have now announced that they aren’t going to implement a Fair Usage Policy after all but instead use contention levels to deliver their service and cut down on those who abuse (i.e. continually download). Instead of a 30Gig + unlimited overnight downloads it will be £21.99 for an unlimited but contended service. Contention will be set at 30:1 and unless you go above 5:1 contention that’s it – no speed cuts, no download limits. Good.

    The confusion this has caused is massive – 16 pages of posts and counting and two very confusing posts from PlusNet employee’s –

    If you mean will shaping apply, then yes, but as I said the amount and type will vary based on the products which haven’t been announced so I’ll say no more.

    and on another thread at almost precisely the same time

    I can confirm that traffic shaping isn’t being applied across the product range. It will be applied on Broadband Plus, but not across the board on Premier.

    While this has totally changed the PlusNet view of the last 3 months they have also announced to compliment this new Premier products, but they felt it would confuse the user if they revealed the specifics – please wait for the 28th of April for more details. Bloody Hell.

    Until now I’ve been happy with PlusNet – great service and support and night and day compared to BT Broadband. Their service is still top notch but their communications team need a shake. All they do is confuse the user and dropping little bits of info through forum posts only confuses users more and leads to, ultimately, users drifting off to other providers. I’m more than happy to be paying £21.99 for 2Meg and the heavy users suffering a poorer service however I will not accept traffic shaping of any kind. Time to check out other providers in case I need to change. Where’s the phone number for UK Online?. Their £29.99 for 8Meg is getting more tempting by the day.

    Google Local & Maps

    Finally a UK version has been launched. Google Maps and Google Local provide high quality maps, directions and addresses for all things local. Here’s my address, how to get to Shakeels and also the essentials in my area. Click and drag the maps to move them around. I really like clicking on the pins in the directions map which gives you a pop-up of the end-point in detail which can also be zoomed and scrolled. Just need the Google browser now.

    Gamics

    Stumbled on gamics.com at the weekend – comics made from game engines. At first I thought the quality would be fairly poor…typical home-brew type affair but I was wrong. The strips are great, look very cool and some of the writing is far better than I expected. If you like comics it’s worth a try. PHWComics is also worth a try – based on the Half-Life 2 engine so quality is top notch.

    Election 2005

    After a slow start the election is starting to get interesting. This time round there are some fantastic websites that really make you think. I’d started to group some links together for a post but plasticbag’s article says it all plus more so it’s a better starting point.

    If you can’t be bothered reading the article then visit some of the following links. Political Survey 2005 is a series of questions that are then used to compare/contrast you with the rest of the electorate..well those that have bothered to take the survey. The results are great – highly recommended. Next up is Who Should You Vote For. This is a bit more simplistic than the Survey as it asks your opinion on 23 statements and from that determines who you should vote for. I’ve published my results at the end of this post.

    Next up are some stat pages. First is The Public Whip which allows you to see how your mp performed in the House of Commons and also has some surveys to try. The Ministerial Whirl is superb and well worth a visit. For more detail on your mp and links to Guardian content try They Work For You. Some very telling stats including how much your local mp claims back in expenses. Shocker. There’s also a good search engine at the site for everything that has been said in parliament since 2001 although that can also be found at the Houses of Parliament.

    The major news websites are also doing their best to explain in plain language exactly what each party stands for. This is partly based on the success of similar sites set-up during the American elections last year. The Channel 4 website has introduced FactCheck and also election blogs. FactCheck hopes to analyse each of the main parties claims and verify who is actually telling the truth seen here when analysing a George Galloway quote. The blogs are also a fairly good read and give an insight into some of the electioneering that goes on although not all of them are up to date.

    BBC also uses a blog but for it’s reporters only though the reporting is more honest than the reporters regular news reports. BBC wins for it’s news coverage, seat calculators and poll tracker. Everything an election stat whore could dream of.

    After all that if you still can’t be bothered to vote, at least register with Not Apathetic and let the world know why. Finally, my who should you vote for results are…

    Who Should You Vote For?

    Your expected outcome:

    Labour

    Your actual outcome:

    Labour -16
    Conservative -29
    Liberal Democrat 39
    UK Independence Party -9
    Green 24

    You should vote: Liberal Democrat

    The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

    Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

    Site Tweaktastic

    Made a few more little changes. First up is the name. Got fed up with ‘pessimism and hope’ so re-named to the original ‘iand.net’. Was so tempted to move domains to ‘turned on by technology’ but resisted due to costs, hassle and a nagging doubt that I would get bored with that domain and want to switch to something else. So the tagline for the site is ‘turned on by technology’ but who knows what I could be turned on by in the future.

    Inspired by the name change I sorted out a wee-mee image for gravatar and the favicon. Next was the updating blog roll which I’ve missed – ended up back with blogrolling for that one. While on links I’ve removed the redundant ones and also pushed the links section down to the bottom right. Tidy.

    Finally…a contacts form has been added and a stats page re-introduced. Sorted. GeoURL is also back up so you can stalk local bloggers. Soon I’ll have a look at Plogger which looks to be a nice simple gallery…although Flickr may be the way to go.