Wednesday 31 March 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

As planned Carrie and myself went to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"! Because everyone I know seems to either have read the book or wants to I figured it might be quite busy so I'd prebooked specific seats to make sure we had a good place. I could not have been more wrong!!! We went in... to an empty cinema. Seriously:

That's Carrie stood where our seats were and you can see our frozen fantas with the dual colours/straws and no one else :) Okay so eventually people DID come in, but in a cinema built for about 250 people there were 10 people total. Haha :)

Oh I also liked that on our seat it said they were reserved!

To be fair that laminated card was on ALL the superior seats, but I felt pretty important all the same! :)

The film itself was longer than I had expected (2 and half hours), but I'm glad because they managed to get a lot of stuff in it, although it still felt a bit rushed to me. Likewise a lot of stuff was missing and in a few cases events had been changed from the book. It doesn't spoil anything, but in the film Anita Vanger died 20 years ago, in the book she lives in London which in turn changes how they get to something else and also it seems to be fairly common knowledge to Milton Security that Lisbeth is a hacker when in the book it's uber secretive. But these were trivial differences and I imagine they made them so they didn't have to explain things more and could just progress on with the story.

Watching subtitled films never really bothers me and Carrie (who hadn't read the book) didn't have a problem following and said she really enjoyed it. The only thing I really did find a bit "weird" was that every now and then the atmospheric music would come out of nowhere... and it'd be VERY loud too. Lots of quiet/talking only scenes... BOOM ATMOSPHERIC EXCITING MUSIC!

I can't wait to see the 2nd and 3rd films! :)

Monday 29 March 2010

Harmony One

I want to talk about my new universal remote control. The main reason I needed one was because I needed one of a few specific models so that I could send extra commands to hack my Blu-ray player so it'd play multi-region DVDs (since 40% of my DVDs are North American, it's not much good to me otherwise!) and then it occured to me that because I have 6 remotes in my living room, a universal remote might actually be very useful so I did some research to find one I could really use and decided to get the Logitech Harmony One which can control up to *15* different devices (at the same time!):

Looks pretty eh? It should do for £117! (US $175). No that wasn't a typo either. Despite all the random "stuff" I buy, I rarely suffer buyer's remorse... and I didn't with this either! Well I did at first, then I started using it and I can see why it's actually worth the money (no really... I'll try and explain!)

It's not very clear in the picture, but do you see that LCD at the top? Well it's not just an LCD, but a touchscreen too. You can swipe it left/right for pages and the usual touch selection as well as softkeys etc like on a mobile. Currently it's displaying some of my favourite channels with their logos (all of which you can customise/upload/make your own). As you might imagine, push the logo, that channel comes on. Cool. Swipe for page 2, page 3, etc. Ordered the way I want.

But it does way more than that, you can create activities so that it powers up multiple devices at once, puts everything on the right input and you're ready to do what you want. For example if I press the "Sky+" activity it turns on my TV, sets it to AV1, sets my AV selector box to the Sky+ and turns on the Sky+ itself. If I then press Media Player it turns on my Freecom media player, turns the AV selector box to the media player and turns OFF the Sky+ (since I'm no longer on that activity). It doesn't touch the TV because both activities have it set that the TV is needed and on AV1. With the Blu-ray player I've made it a bit more complicated, it also turns on my sound system, sets that to the correct input and sets the volume too... snazzy eh? All with a single button press.

There's a mini USB jack tucked in the top of the remote (behind a rubber flap) and even cooler there's a infrared RECEIVER in the bottom of the remote. Most universal remotes can only "learn" by number codes which are limited/complex at times and they can't really learn from actual infrared commands of the original remote. This one can. Simply connect to PC, go into the learn function, point the real remote at the bottom of this and press whatever button I want to capture. The software really is that good.

It's also rechargable (has a little docking station) AND a movement sensor so when you pick it up the screen/backlight comes on :) It's the little touches :) Love it :) In less than a week watching things so much easier! I've even got it setup to control my digital photo frame!!

Unfortunately, even though it is ultra fabby and I'm very happy with it, it isn't the remote control from the movie "Click"... now that would be cool :)

Thursday 25 March 2010

Funny post

On Tuesday the postman left me a card saying there was an item of post that hadn't had enough postage paid on it so I owed them money if I wanted it. The total fee owed was for £1.08 and amusingly £1 of that is an admin/handling charge:

Yep 8p under and they slap another £1 on it... ha. So I went to pick it up yesterday, opened the packet and found a rather large bit of paper from the lovely Lianne Marie that she'd sent whilst at work:

I love the irony that she'd written about it being an expensive poster and in fact it really had turned out to be "expensive" since I needed to pay nearly 3 times what her postage was :)

It also explained the mystery of why it took so long to arrive too. She posted it 1st class (39p) on the 18th so it *should* have got to me on the 19th, but because the envelope was above the "letter" sizes it was technically a "large letter" and as such it's 61p for first class... or 47p for 2nd class (8p above what she paid). So they sent it 2nd class which is considerably slower hence I only got it Tuesday... etc etc. Don't know why I'm explaining all this, you probably already worked it out before I even started typing! :)

Thanks Lee Mee! :)

Wednesday 24 March 2010


On Monday I was hanging around at home waiting for my Blu-ray player to arrive. had insisted that it MUST be sent to the home address (eugh!) so I'd hung around all day and it got to 2.45pm and I thought this was nuts and I needed to go to work and I put my shoes on and started to write a note to tell delivery company to try and leave it with some specific neighbours. As soon as I picked up the pen... he arrived! Fantastic timing! Well... 6 hours earlier would have been nicer, but hey :)

I *don't* yet have an HD-TV and there's no real plans to get one, I've only got the player so that I can buy UK Blu-ray discs now for future use since at somepoint I will get an HD-TV. I borrowed "The Dark Knight" off my brother to test it (since I don't yet have any Blu-ray discs!) and was actually quite impressed. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a DVD menu... huh? And then whilst in the film the scene selection menus (which for DVD meant you had to leave the movie) popped up ON the screen whilst the movie was playing. I don't know if this is normal Blu-ray behaviour? Pretty cool if it is though! Having to click through menus on DVDs was really annoying!

Friday 19 March 2010


The morning started a bit bumpy because I had to get up before 8am (that's early for me!) to make sure I was around for when they delivered my Blu-ray player, but it actually turns out they didn't even try and deliver it at all. Boo. Sadly the getting up so early meant I only had about 3 hours sleep so I felt quite drained, but it was still a good day!

I wasn't expecting many cards in the post, but I was really happy to receive 16 in total. Amusingly 4 of my 16 cards came from, but all completely different and I loved them all!

Gail was kind enough to send me some presents in the post which after unwrapping turned out to be 3 more great books for my collection. These were: All ten chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and Bellwether by Connie Willis. I have lots of things to read now, I need more time! :) Thank you! :)

I went to work and found an "empty" box in reception, or at least it felt like an empty box. I got it to my desk, opened it... and a balloon flew out to the ceiling:

Thank you Michelle, that totally took me by surprise and it was like a movie moment the way it flew out the box! She's also kindly put some chocolates in the box too, although I haven't eaten them yet - but I bet they taste great though :) The balloon also served as a good "prompt" and everyone who came in for the rest of the day then said "Ooh is it your birthday?" - Fantastic :)

I received 2 emails, 11 text greetings, 4 Twitter messages, 1 Facebook message/email and a rather incredible 94 messages/comments on my Facebook wall. Wow.

That's not even the total number of messages, that's 94 different people! I cannot express how popular that made me feel! Interestingly there were no actual phonecalls, but I guess that's how society has changed and I'm certainly not bitter, it's only now I even thought about it!

After work I went round my parents as planned. Mum didn't know what dinner to make me that I'd enjoy so she'd just decided to make a full roast dinner (even had stuffing!) and it was yummy! :) After dinner I opened the presents that my parents, my aunt/uncle, my brother and his girlfriend had got me:

That's all the presents/cards that I received and as you might notice there are a LOT of books! There are the three Gail got me as mentioned above and my parents bought my the Harry Potter collection (yes I know I'm a bit behind, I'm still working on the Twilight saga too!). However, if that wasn't enough, my brother got my the three Lord of the Rings books (black books, slightly off to the left with yellow/red/green circle on each) and also "The Hobbit". Blimey. I have a LOT to read!

I also received another Lego game (Lava Dragon), a make my own bouncy ball kit (cool!), grow my own Triop sea monsters, the "ultimate" puzzle (apparently!), Horse Racing game night (fun DVD home "event" with friends) and Haribo sweets. Epic! After opening the presents we tried out the new Lava Dragon game and it was pretty cool:

I'm getting quite a collection of them now! They're all pretty quick, but I think that's good, you don't get bored and you can make your own rules up/they actively encourage you to make changes (like Lego itself!). Finally my mother brought out the cake which possibly needs some explanation. Every year she makes something based on what I'm into at the time or related to the presents that I've had and so this year she decided to do:

Haha cool eh? Both my brother and I straight away pointed out the lightning bolt was all wrong, but I also stressed it didn't really matter and that I thought it was great. It also tasted fantastic too, so who cares if it's not 100% accurate! :)

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Picture dump from work

I figured I would post some of the fun pictures that I've taken at work over the last week! :)

I made smoothies on my desk at work!

I had two new Dell servers arrive

Bought some Kinder Surprise

Chris got a cool plane thing in his

I just got stupid pointless toys

I did find the world's smallest ladybird though!

In other news, I saw Alice in Wonderland (2D) at the cinema tonight. It was weird, but I did enjoy it. Did I mention it was weird? :) Talking of films, I pre-ordered the Avatar Steelbook set and then decided to get the bundle with the Sony BDP-S360 Blu-ray player as it's a cheap way of getting a decent Blu-ray player.... Shame I don't have an HD-TV, nor do I have any plans to get one! (at least I'll be able to play UK Blu-ray discs though!)

Sunday 14 March 2010

Weekend of games

Laura invited me over on Saturday and I haven't seen her in ages so jumped at the chance to hang out. Normally she comes over mine so she suggested I came over hers instead because then her housemates Emma and Leah would be there too which sounded pretty cool to me. When I got there Laura was playing the new Final Fantasy XIII game and to say I was impressed was putting it lightly. It wasn't the game that I was impressed with, but rather this called "HD" :) Yes it's probably hard to believe, but despite all the gadgets I buy, I've never seen an HD TV/signal and I was shocked at how "crisp" it was - Awesome! I wasn't too interested in the game itself though, I'm waiting for Final Fantasy XIV Online (the "sequel" to FFXI which I played for years!). We were debating on what to play and I was shocked by their "console cupboard":

Okay so there's actually more consoles in my living room, but it was the whole cupboard full of them that I found rather impressive :) Notice that Laura also has the Yuna figure (top right) that I do (she liked mine so much she bought her own). I was told that I had to finish Special Cup on Mario Kart 150CC as she needed that unlocked and I wasn't going to be fed until I had done it so I sat down and did that. Thankfully I was able to do it on the second go (which surprised me as I haven't played in a few months!)

Laura's girlfriend Leah came home from work and we all ordered chinese food and I had a yummy chicken chow mein (it's my favourite meal) and then we all decided to play "Mexican Trains". I'd never heard of it, but it's a game using a set of dominoes that go up to 12 (and blanks) and you have to make "trains" to get rid of your dominoes as fast as you can:

I can't be bothered to explain the rules, but it's a very simple (yet enjoyable) game, but it tooks HOURS. Like... 3 or 4 lol. Eventually we finished and I headed home and got back about midnight. :)

The next day it was Mothering Sunday here in the UK so as every year I went over my parents house. My brother and I had bought mum a Slanket (because she's always saying she's cold and if you don't know what one of those is, where have you been?), some execessively expensive chocolates (that we refused to let her share) and a new Cliff Richard DVD. I've lost track of how many Cliff DVDs we've bought her... he just seems to keep generating them!!!

After eating we sat down to play some games, all of which we hadn't yet played starting with Pirate code which Lucy bought me for Xmas:

It's a Lego game (which you already worked out!) and it's essentially Mastermind where you have a 4 colour code and the other people have to try and work it out. The games don't last very long, but it was fun having to build it all and we played twice. The next game we played was "Ticket to Ride":

You get a load of destination cards (one of mine was Edinburth to Athens) and the idea is to build a "route" with your trains between the two destinations. It sounds easy, but there's only so many "paths" so once someone else has already taken it then it gets REALLY complicated trying to get around it and you end up having to build stations and take long tunnels and ferry crossings... (neither of which are simple) and yeh... it sounded really complicated to start with, but we soon got the hang of it. The picture above was taken at the end and I was blue if you wondered, but my mother (red) won though :)

We only had a little time to kill now before it would be time to eat again so we played this short game call "The Kids are all right" which apparently is based on a TV show with John Barrowman (he's all over the box). The game is largely electronical with voices directing you to question cards although no voice of John himself. Boo. I didn't really like this one, but it wasn't THAT bad. Finally after eating we moved onto the last game... Monopoly City:

It's the latest incarnation of Monopoly and I have to say I love it! The biggest changes are that you don't build houses/hotels anymore, but rather residential, industrial, skyscrapers all on the inside of the board (there's areas marked out for each property - now called a district). It also has hazards where you can build prisons or sewage works on other peoples area and nullify their residential earnings, but the biggest thing is that you no longer need to have all three to build. As such things start moving MUCH faster.

There's an electronic "thing" which tells you how many things you can build (you can't just build unlimited) and you can even build stations (not buy them anymore) to hop around the board - although we hardly used that feature.

I was doing really really well and had all these skyscrapers and it was all going fantastically and I was miles ahead of everyone else until I landed on one of my dad's districts which he just happened to expand and needed to give him something like £19million. I was just expecting to sell a "house" or two from my spare properties and then we realised that you can't sell buildings anymore, yep... you mortgage the property with the buildings intact... except the rent price was about 1/10 of the base property rate. It didn't make any sense, but in literally seconds my huge empire suddenly was made bankrupt because I didn't have tons of spare cash as it was all tied up in property (which I assumed I could sell like in normal Monopoly...) so I was forced to hand over all my properties/cash (about £12 million!) to dad and I was out of the game.

Then 10 minutes later I realised that we'd misunderstood the rules and that where it said the the mortgage value was the rent price, it didn't mean the rent price of the land, it meant the price WITH buildings. So in my case I could have just mortgaged *ONE* district to get the money I needed and would still have had more than enough to have a serious shot at winning the game. Urgh! Of course by this point it was much too late to do anything, but at least it makes sense now! :(

Other than that though I did enjoy the game and can't wait to play it again and it's now my favourite version of Monopoly, yes even more than classic and I didn't think I'd ever say that!!!

Thursday 11 March 2010

Google Street View

Way back in May 2009 I was lucky enough to come across a Google Street View car:

It came about because my brother was waiting outside the house for me to pick him up and I arrived a minute later after the car had driven past so he quickly got in and we gave chase to try and find it. I was hoping that perhaps if I followed it then I'd be on Street View and since last year I've been checking every few weeks to see if it's updated yet. Unfortunately I've had to wait until today to see the images (the same day they've just launched 95% of the UK instead of just major cities) and I'm not disappointed:

I was following him for quite a while, but apparently the main road I was following him along isn't available for viewing (literally a black screen and says unavailable!) and I think that possibly the person "chatting" in the first picture lodged a complaint or something as my brother thinks the guy was filling in a form and possibly now the whole street is exempt! BOO! Still, you can see my car turning into the road to follow the Google car and then turning off because we'd had enough and had more exciting places to be. Oh, but I'm not finished yet... what about the pictures of my brother stood outside my parents house?

Aside from the slight distortion of the lamppost at the bottom of the first picture, that's pretty clear isn't it? He said that in the second picture he was texting me to ask where I was and to tell me the Google car just went by (although I arrived before he sent it) :) Talking of texting, I've just asked where his car was (only mum's car is on the drive), but apparently the reason I was picking him up was to take him to the garage to get his car! Ah ha! (which makes sense really since the main car isn't there either so both parents must be out as if they were home they'd have taken him).

So yeh... Street View UK is now live and there's a good chance your street is on there so go have a look!

Thursday 4 March 2010

Epic evening with Erica

Erica came over and we decided to just hang out at my house and order a chinese for delivery. I ordered my usual chicken chow mein and some chicken tikka samosas etc. Erica had a mushroom chow mein and vegetarian duck, yes you read that right. I didn't even know you could get vegetarian duck, but it comes with the pancakes, the sauce and the cucumbers and I tried some of it and it was really nice! :)

Aside from that we watched silly music videos on TV and we played the Labyrinth board game as well which I always think is cool.

Notice the Bounty Plenty in the background! Woo Bounty Plenty ftw!! :)

New Fiesta

My car's back in the garage again, but it's not as bad as it sounds - It's just in for the scheduled 2 year service. Can't believe it's nearly been 2 years already! Whilst it's in for service I've got one of their cars which this time is the new shape Ford Fiesta:

Shiny! There's absolutely no tech gear in it though and it's literally just the basic model and it's made me appreciate how awesome my own (fully pimped) car is. LOL :)

Really good news is though that less than 2 hours after dropping it off, I received a text message (!) telling me that my car was ready so obviously there were no problems with it. Awesome. :)

Monday 1 March 2010

New alloy

I've got my new alloy wheel - Hurrah!

New tyre too! (and a matching one on the other side). See the previous post for more about it, but basically I hit a massive pothole at about 50mph (in a 60mph limit) and it blew a tyre and destroyed the alloy in the process.

The bill came to £334 / US $499 (ouch!) and that hasn't included the tracking yet (which I'll do on Thursday when it's in for it's 2 year service). It was £150 for the alloy and the tyres worked out at £90 EACH, but they're quite good ones and have speed rating V so I can drive 149mph with them :) (shame the car only has a top speed of 106mph lol)