Saturday 28 August 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

It seems like ages since I late wrote, but it's been a rather quite/empty/boring week. Thankfully that's now changed and I have something exciting to talk about, namely that Carrie and myself watched "The Girl Who Played with Fire" last night... or rather this morning as I'd booked us tickets for the midnight showing. This wasn't the advance preview or anything though as the film came out Friday and thus the preview would have midnight the previous day! We'd both watched the first film/book "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in March and although Carrie hasn't (yet?) read the books she was more than happy to see the second one which was fine by me!

I didn't expect it to be that busy, but as usual I got us VIP seats. I prefer having booked seats simply because I know I'll be guaranteed a seat and there's no hurry to sit down, but also I've become a bit of a cinema snob and I like the fact they're extra comfy and they're in the best viewing positions! However, I really didn't need to have bothered:

I have both halves as there was no one to check them!

When we went into the cinema entrance it was already pretty deserted with very few staff and only a few patrons playing on the arcades. We picked up our tickets and I was enjoying the lovely voice of this Scottish girl until it suddenly increased in volume and changed to some English guy and to Carrie's amusement I was literally saying "hey bring back the Scottish girl!" Oh if you hadn't realised, I'm talking about an automated machine here lol.

Bought some drinks (Fanta Frozen woo!) and popcorn and headed to our screen and we were started to think we were the only people until we walked into the cinema and (to my disappointment) there were actually a couple already sat down. Boo! Don't worry, we made them leave though! :P The girl got up and walked out/return not once, but twice and then 30 minutes into the film they BOTH left! Fair enough... I think they didn't realise it was in Swedish! They never say these things in the trailers because it'd probably reduce ticket sales, but the clue is that if you don't hear any of the actors speaking then you know it's a foreign language film. Not that this bothers me (and we already knew it was Swedish), but just wanted to mention in case it helps anyone out in future!

No one else is here!

After that it was just Carrie and myself (sat in the expensive VIP seats that I really didn't need to have paid extra for!) and of course we could just chat normally and discuss the film as it happened without annoying anyone else! Having read (and very much enjoyed) the trilogy of books I was excited to be seeing the films and I wasn't disappointed. As is normal with book to film conversions a lot of stuff is left out and what was in there felt at times rather rushed (not as rushed as Dragon Tattoo felt though!), but I was happy with the story and thought that everything that *needed* to be in it was, even if I wish some parts of it had been expanded.

The only thing I was a bit disappointed with the character of Niedermann (the blonde giant) because he seemed more grey than blonde and he looked older than I expected. Although he didn't say much, he didn't have the high pitched voice either that he has in the books, but the biggest thing was his build. Although he certainly had the height (he looks about 7 foot tall) I was also expecting him to look something like Dolph Lundgren in "Masters of the Universe" (i.e. muscles everywhere), but this actor just looked like a very tall guy. Although I suppose this was because it was my interpretation, I don't think at any time during the books it says he'd be anything like this and only describes him as "the blonde giant".

Fanta Frozen and salted popcorn that I consumed during the film!

So I thought a rather enjoyable evening, even if I didn't get home until 4am... at which point I had sugar cane to harvest on FarmVille and then spent ~4 hours playing Bejeweled Blitz... Silly addictive game! :)

Wednesday 18 August 2010

USB Plasma Ball

My two desks at work are pretty much a disaster area and you can hardly see any desk at it's covered in "stuff". Paperwork, packaging, optical media, etc... but aside from the chaos it does include lots of cool little things (Avenging Unicorn, Sunshine Buddy, Solar Turbine, USB Fridge, USB Panic Button, digital photo frame, etc...) and now it's joined by my latest toy... a USB powered Plasma Ball!

How freakin' cool is that?! Admittedly when it's BRIGHT sunlight it's hard to see anything, but as the day goes on and the room gets darker it becomes clearer. I actually paid about £10 for this and you can get much bigger ones for the same price, but aside from the fact there's a certain coolness in it being USB powered, noone at work can complain about me using any extra electricity since it's only using that which my computer is already using! :) I'm really tempted to get a massive one for home now as well! (not USB powered this time though)

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Why TomTom are amazing

I've been using the TomTom satellite navigation products for many years now and I've had their Windows Mobile version on my phone, the GO 910 and my current GO 950 and I couldn't be happier with them. They might not be the cheapest, but they always get me to my destination without any hitches and although that's probably the most important thing, the other reason I really like them is that they have fantastic customer support.

I've contacted them a few times in the past to ask general queries as well as query their services and I've always had a prompt and helpful reply. So many companies seem to give you back an automated reply that has nothing to do with the question you actually asked... but not TomTom! Until now I've never had a problem with the hardware, but thankfully it their process for fixing it was is just as smooth.

Last week I unplugged my car charger to lend it to a friend and as I did so it fell apart in my hands. It looked like part of the plastic holding it together had a weakness and had broken under the stress of the spring loaded mechanism, or at least that's what I assume happened! I was annoyed, but these things happen so I was all ready to buy another car charger until the same friend pointed out that it was obviously a defect with the hardware so why don't I contact TomTom about it. Consider a new official car charger is about £18 I figured I certainly had nothing to lose.

I explained the problem and attached a photo to show the fault and later that same day they replied back asking for my serial number and a copy of my receipt. I provided these and then they asked for my details for where to send a new car charger. Yep, it was that smooth! I didn't even need to return the broken one (I guess it wasn't worth their while since they'd seen the picture) and sure enough a few days later I received a brand new working charger.

Now that is customer service for you and that is why I keep recommending them to anyone who will listen! Thank you TomTom!

Monday 16 August 2010

I've pre-ordered a Kindle 3!

I've been toying with the idea of an E-book reader for a while now, but wasn't really sure and then thanks to some rather good product placement, I had the Kindle 3 drummed into me and when I say good product placement, I mean the very large chunk of the front page of the Amazon website!

The concept of E-book readers seem to be something that you either love or hate and over the past week I've lost track of the amount of arguments "against" them. You no longer get that sensation of turning a page, they don't look as nice as a collection of books and my personal "favourite"... you don't get the "smell" of paper... In the plus corner however is convenience (thousands of books in your hands), the fact you don't have to constantly hold the thing open, the nice "look" about it isn't ruined when you damage the spine by actually opening it (paperbacks anyway), the size (real books take up a ton of space and my house isn't that big!) and you're sort of helping the environment by not placing demands for paper (although that's probably offset by the fact you need to charge them up!).

But I have to ask... does it matter what it looks like? So what if it's paper, electronic or even in audio form, it's still the same book. The story and characters haven't changed and it's just the method of how it's being delivered that's different and you still be drawn into it (assuming it's a good book anyway!). I doubt books will just go away anytime soon, but at some point in the future it seems inevitable they'll all go electronic... it's just more efficient... Okay enough rambling, time for pretty pictures!

Soon that'll be my hand! :) Well actually, no it won't. Sadly it doesn't get released until August 27th and because I didn't order mine straight away I'm due to get mine around September 10th (possibly before though) so boo :( But isn't it pretty and thin? :) They make a WiFi model and a WiFi + 3G model and I wasn't really sure that I'd ever use the 3G, but figured I might as well rather than kick myself later!

Like most E-readers it doesn't use an LCD screen (like on computers/phones), but rather an E-ink display so the text looks more natural as well as it works in bright sunlight. It also means it has an insanely long battery life since it only takes power to actually change the page and it doesn't really matter if you leave a page "on" indefinitely (well it still suffers the normal gradual slow battery discharging, but you get the idea!). Amazon are really pushing the fact that it can download books in 60 seconds from anywhere (assuming you have the 3G one and you're in a service area!), but seriously... do people actually want a book that badly?! "OMG MUST HAVE BOOK NOW - 60 SECONDS? THAT'S TOO LONG!" :S Indeed... :S

But for now I have to wait... and grr I want it now!! :(

Sunday 15 August 2010

Vicky's 28th birthday

On Saturday my good friend Vicky turned 28 so we all headed to hers for a mini party and BBQ! Sadly this'll probably be the last BBQ of the year, but it was fantastic and everyone seemed to have a really good time!

Some of the people at the BBQ

Food to go with the burgers/sausages

Birthday cake

Blowing out the cake

Check out my mega burger! :)

We were chatting for absolutely ages and I didn't end up getting home until just after 4am... which didn't result in much sleep as I was going out in the morning, but hey it was worth it, an awesome evening! :)

Futurama: FSM

Is anyone else watching the new Futurama episodes? I thought the last 3 movies were rubbish so I didn't hold out much hope for the new episodes, but thankfully I was wrong - They're great. Check out a scene from the latest one:

It's the Flying Spaghetti Monster!! YAY!!! :) And yes that's all I'm going to write, I just wanted to share this scene because it was brilliant! :)

Sunday 8 August 2010

Dad's 60th birthday

My Dad turned 60 this weekend and we went out for a meal with the the immediate family (Dad, Mum, myself, brother and my brother's girlfriend) and then there was a bit of a party on Saturday night. Mum's been planning the party for about 6 months and he had no idea until she told him the day before and apparently he's been talking about it non-stop so it looks like he had a good time - Yay! I'll put up a selection of pictures so you can see what went on!

Meal - I have a steak and it was yummy!

Card that I had made for Dad

We bought him T-gauge trainset (450:1 scale) - it's TINY!)

Up and running, see the 50p coin for an idea of the size!

Dad - We made him wear the hat as much as possible!

Cutting the cake

There were *6* people called Alan there, so here's my Dad with all 6!

The party in full swing!

Happy birthday Dad!

Thursday 5 August 2010

Rock Paper Scissors

I found this on GraphJam a few days ago, although an Internet search suggests it's been around for quite a while. Assuming the data is actually correct, this should give you a handy advantage when playing Rock Paper Scissors - Happy cheating!

Now if only I could find one for Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock...

Tuesday 3 August 2010


This won't be very long, but I just wanted to show off the plants that I'm growing. Last Christmas Felicity at work bought me these "pocket garden" plants that grow inside the packet they come in. I waited until it was warmer before I started and for the past few months they've been on my window sill at work and slowly growing!

Okay so it's not like I've had to actually do much apart from water them, but I'm still impressed - look at the size of them! There's no actual fruits yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time! I'd best go get some cream so I'm ready... :)

Sunday 1 August 2010

Games day with Vanessa

The title has probably has already summed up what this is going to be about, but if not, I spent Sunday playing games with the wonderful Vanessa. We'd spoke last week about meeting up again and since she only lives about 2 hours from me a little daytrip sounded like a fun idea.

I got there just after 1pm and after chatting to her and her boyfriend Michael for a while we decided to play my Labyrinth board game. Unfortunately I hadn't explained one of the rules very well and Vanessa spent the whole game thinking she had less options than she actually had (i.e. playing at a disadvantage) and I didn't realise what she was doing until right near the end. Oops! Thankfully she didn't hold it against me and made us all lovely toasted baguette sandwhich things!

I say "things", because I'm not quite sure what they were, I just know they tasted fantastic and I remember her saying something about having cheese and onion on them :) Vanessa and Michael's friend Tim arrived and we all sat down to play Monopoly City. It's the latest version of Monopoly and I quite like it as it's "faster" than the classic version, although obviously classic is probably still the best. The main difference with this one is that you build two categories of buildings inside the middle of the board and there are good and bad things you can add to each district. It's hard to explain, but it's good. Vanessa kept landing on "Chance" so only ended up with 1 property so she maxed that out (we dubbed it V-Towers due to the shape)... and I landed on it. I simply didn't have the $14 million I needed and as such she got all my properties and looked like she was now sure to win:

That was her VERY gleeful face after being given lots of properties and realising she was in a very good position now. It was all going really well too... until Michael got a "Chance" card which STOLE V-Towers (!) and then the real kicker was when Vanessa landed on it not once, but twice pretty much bankrupting herself in the process and after that it was only a matter of time before Michael won. It was fun, but we were all glad when it ended, it's amusing how all versions of Monopoly have that effect!

Look up in the top right corner and see the two blue towers with buildings between them, that was "V-Towers". We'd had enough games so we went to the TV and Forgetting Sarah Marshall was on so we all watched that. After this finished Vanessa made us some yummy pasta and I briefly played some sort of Olympic Games game with Michael on the PS3 (I wasn't very good at it sadly!) and then we watched the last 20 mintues of "G-Force" (WTH?!) and then an episode of Top Gear (I think that's the 3rd episode I've ever seen?). It was then like 10.30pm so time for the obligatory photo before heading home!

I like how it looks like that rose is coming out of my head! A fantastic day and really hope to meet up soon for more fun!