More observant visitors may have noticed changes in the Questions section over the past few weeks as we trialled some new designs. This visual upgrade has been under work for a while as we wanted to maintain the same tone while giving the site a sleeker look. It was important that we still keep it bright but we wanted to add some depth to the previously flat design. The most difficult decision was whether or not to change any of the photographs but the eventual decision was to retain them all for continuity (and because we like them). I hope we’ve achieved our goals and made it more pleasing to the eye without annoying anyone with the change.
I’ve had half a dozen people all insisting that I must watch Heroes and I knew I would like it once I started watching it. However it has taken me a while because I wanted to give the pilot my full attention so that it had a proper chance. Suffice to say that in a matter of days I have devoured all 17 aired episodes and eagerly await more. Comicbook influences are obvious with the entire story feeling like a modern take on X-Men. The range of characters occasionally works to its detriment as we jump between them slowing the development of each plot strand. Nevertheless most are compelling enough to hold your interest and each episode starts to focus primarily on a small handful of characters (which becomes easier as they start to meet up).
There are strong elements of mystery with the desire not to explain too much too fast. Yet it is clear that the writers know exactly where they are going with the story unlike some rival shows (I’m looking at you, Lost). Hiro is, as Jane correctly predicted, my favourite character but it is interesting to note that this is the first American show I’ve seen where the foreign characters are genuinely the most compelling while the “domestic” ones tend to be rather bland by comparison. If you’re after something new to watch or are another disaffected ex-Lost viewer, Heroes is definitely worth a look.
Finally Sony, despite already having launched in two regions, are still finding ways to screw up the PS3 launch. The European model arriving next month will feature inferior backwards compatibility with PS2 titles as they make modifications to the manufacturing process to save costs. How they have the gall to publicly state this goal while charging fans here more than their American or Japanese counterparts for an inferior product is bordering on ridiculous. Telling consumers you are saving money in manufacturing an already overpriced item and then pocketing the cash is like shooting a man in the leg and then explaining, “It’s okay, I just want your wallet.”
The trouble with obnoxious ringtones is that when you are asleep they sound indistinguishable from alarms. As a result I may have hung up on one of Kirsten’s friends this morning when he phone started making a racket next to my ear at 8:15am, while she was in the shower. I apologise. As should whoever decided that a phone ought to produce the cacophony of a synthesised drum-kit. He ought to have his lungs replaced with a cymbal so he can see just how well such synergy actually works in practice. Nurse, he’s crashing!
This chart of geekdom is not exactly new but I have found it increasingly relevant to several friends, both of the cantab persuasion and externally, upon delving into their backgrounds. Lucia conceded that she fits onto the chart but refuses to reveal where. Now I’m not saying she’s a furry, but I’m not not saying she’s a furry either…
Oh, the Oscars? I missed them. By now you probably know I am rather disenchanted with them, but once again I managed to call all but one of the big four. Best actress for Helen Mirren was a nice surprise. I suppose best director was arguably a surprise too in that I half-expected them to somehow screw Scorsese over again. Still, it was nice to see Pan’s Labyrinth pick up a few, although not the Best Foreign Picture award I think it deserved (it was, after all, the best film I saw last year, though I haven’t yet been able to see The Departed).
I have finally gone through many of my photos since the beginning of this academic year and added them to the gallery. Facebook users got an early look, though the image quality is higher here. Photos from Christmas in Germany will hopefully be added soon.
Tuesday evening was the Danby Society quiz which I attended for the third year running despite the perils of being a lawyer in a room full of NatScis. Irina ushered Angie and me into her team with Andy B and Tom Ash and the resulting hybrid supergroup, dubbed Marshmallow Nipple, proceeded to dominate the quiz every round. Until the final round, that is, in which our winning streak was scuppered by a lack of sports knowledge, relegating us to a still respectable third place (the highest I’ve ranked in the Danby quiz). Having been each year since I arrived I’m actually quite tempted to turn up again next year if the Andy and Irina are up for it…
You will have noticed that site updates are still sporadic at the moment with work rudely imposing itself. However there is good news for those desperate for the regular diversion offered by P-2006. I have recently started using StumbleUpon which is a community tool that shows you random sites that others have submitted based on your interests. Think of it as channel surfing for the web. It helpfully creates an RSS feed of sites you save, which I have then been able to route via Google Reader into my Shared News feed. This now allows me to include any page on the internet instead of just ones that come up in my recent news feeds. I’ll aim to keep it updated with a few interesting bits a day, so do check back regularly. You can now access it from the Feeds page. On social stuff, also note the new Last.fm page which displays a few listening tables and a funky visual display of albums I’ve been delving into for those who like that sort of thing.
Happy Chinese New Year to you all. Angie (and several others) are hard at work in the kitchen preparing a veritable feast for the corridor’s collective celebration this evening. If I were the sort of person who actually puts on weight I imagine I would have picked up a few stone by the end of this weekend with the combined detrimental health effects of last night’s delectable kleftiko and tonight’s culinary festivities which include sushi, dumplings and multiple varieties of satay. Good thing I don’t, really.
Recently I’ve dabbled in the new offerings for webmasters from Yahoo! and Google. Both Yahoo! Site Explorer and Google Webmaster Tools offer site owners a way to delve into the wealth of information stored in their respective search indexes. Okay, so in fairness it’s hardly a wealth of information compared to that offered by traffic analysis products, but it does allow you to browse external links that point to your site. Surprisingly the Yahoo! index was actually more comprehensive when it came to sites linking to mine, although a few were out of date. Google’s interface seems slightly more accessible. Both services, however, informed me that apparently Copernic came across my review of their Desktop Search product and are now quoting from it themselves.
And finally I also got a mention on the latest GameSpot UK podcast (at around 14:45 if you’re interested) with some thoughts on the “original title vs. franchises” debate.
Happy, uh, Wednesday. Yes, I am told it is a special day but given that the people keenest on informing me also produce chocolates, print cards and run restaurants you’ll forgive me for being a little sceptical. Personally I just object to the notion of scheduled romance. It’s like betting on every horse in a race — you can, it’s just not that fulfilling.
I had previously suspected that my feelings about Mr. Valentine’s 24 hours were really a not-very-secretly harboured bitterness about being single, but evidently that is not the case. Fortunately I have found an awesome girlfriend who is (nearly) as cynical as me. Either that or she’s just happy that it means we’ll probably have dinner together several times this week just on different days. You may see us — we’ll be the couple at the secluded table in an uncrowded restaurant sharing some quiet, quality time. So you probably won’t actually. Which is kind of the point.
That said I would like to acknowledge how great Kirsten, my girlfriend of fifteen and a half months, actually is and I figure this is the day readers will probably put up with it having been suitably desensitised by the tacky saccharine dross filling every shop in the country (and heaven help those who actually turned on a radio). I love her uncontrollably and anyone who knows me has seen just how good an effect she’s had, though since a lot of you have partners yourselves I won’t tell you that she’s better. But she is*.
For those of you not engaging in dinner-for-twos this evening, I prescribe Voltaire as the antidote to a V-Day alone. He ought to bring a smile to the loneliest of souls — in the past he always has to me.
The Dutch are now 5cm taller than the average European and thanks to EU standardisation will have to be destroyed.
– Sandy Toksvig
I have been toying with Google Reader for some time, but recently finding that I am checking far too many websites far too frequently, I decided to make better use of this powerful feed reader. It allows you to collate and browse the latest additions to any website which has an RSS feed (including this one). Aside from being accessible from any internet-connected machine, it also allows you to group multiple feeds into a single folder so that you can browse, say, all the latest technology news at once. If you do start using it, Lifehacker’s Getting Good with Google Reader is well worth a look, explaining some of its more powerful features.
I also found that with this wealth of information at my fingertips I don’t have enough time to mention everything that I’d like to here in detail. However Google Reader also allows you to share items so with a single click I can now let all of you see the most interesting news, technology and blog posts that I think were worth reading. You can take a look them in the appropriately titled Priyan’s Shared Items. It even has its own feed if after reading this post you are that way inclined. I will continue to discuss my favourite findings here, of course, but this way you can still see the ones that slip through the net. If you have comments about those items, just make them in the latest post here. In particular the one about the Airbus A320’s new in-flight entertainment system is a cool look at what I hope will eventually become the standard for air travel comfort.
The end result is that I hope this will give you a bit more to read while I’m slaving through the horrible amount of work that the second term as the 3rd year law student inevitably brings. A talk given by distinguished IP judge Robyn Jacob was a high point last week, if only that he covered most of the year’s syllabus in about an hour. I believe I may even have seen him in action before having sat in on part of the RIM v. Inpro dispute over the Blackberry. At least the judges seem like level headed human beings even if the patent owners decidedly do not.
I fail to understand the apparent secrecy surrounding Ball themes up until their launch parties at which the spilling of their respective beans occurs. Aside from particularly gimmicky choices the theme has relatively little impact upon the overall experience of the average Ball, merely being a well from which its aesthetics may draw inspiration. As such the level of secrecy seems somewhat defunct. Sure, in 2005 Emma’s Monopoly sponsorship came out of left field but you’re not actually going to surprise people into buying tickets. You have to ply prospective guests with alcohol at the launch party like every other self-respecting Ball Committee. All this secrecy really does is make it more difficult for people to plan their Balls in advance, since the websites inevitably remain content-free until “all is revealed” or “soon has come” or whatever. Obviously everyone here is going to Downing, that’s a given. A bunch of us are toying with the idea of dining tickets at the moment, but that requires enough interest — the food looks good so now it’s just the company we need.
Luke has written a short (no, really) piece on the moral hazard created by Apple’s new ads. They are certainly creating a major risk for the future should their market share increase as they have educated users to believe that security-wise they are “safe” because, as he puts it, “they’re using a white computer”. I am also bemused by people who try to convince me to “switch” for this reason. On this reasonably locked down machine (NOD32, Norton Personal Firewall, Windows Defender) over the past 3 years I have experienced exactly zero virus infections and the one instance of spyware was firmly my own fault. I am sure it is a relevant consideration to some people but they are not me.
I would like to extend a personal congratulation to Jamie and Andy, or the Defenders of the Free(ze) as I believe they should now be known, for winning their long-running battle against College regarding the use of mini-coolers. Downing have long banned students from keeping fridges in their rooms but the position on mini-coolers has been open to interpretation with a blind eye generally being turned. However my friends were informed that their brand new mini-cooler breached their rental agreement (allegedly, I assume, posing a serious fire risk) and would have to be removed. They staunchly refused, citing that it not being a fridge they were not breach and apparently went so far as to threaten the establishment of a student complaints commission. College eventually not only backed down but are proceeding officially to change the rules expressly allowing the use of mini-coolers from now on, although it may be required that students register the item from next year. Surviving battle with the domus bursar et al is impressive enough, but emerging victorious shows a grit and determination that would make a Spartan proud. Yes, they’re lawyers. What’s your point?
Everyone’s offers from Law Schools have started to trickle in and I have been offered places by both institutions to which I applied. Both in London I still have absolutely no idea how to distinguish properly between them and making the choice will be rather difficult. More of my intake at Bird & Bird are going to BPP but the people I know best will be at College of Law. The decision will likely involve a proper visit if I can spare the time away from Cambridge during the term.
I have mentioned the recent plight of Croydon’s Beanos, once one of the largest second hand record store in the world, several times before, but as work continues apace to establish its new amalgamation of music and market stalls the local press have also become interested and printed several positive articles. The Advertiser went one step further and put together a tribute/history/future/slideshow/audio thing called Music You Can Touch, narrated by managing director David Lashmar.